What's a Doula?
In short: We’re here for you.
The longer version: A doula is your perinatal lifeline for support, evidence-based information and helpful resources. Multiple studies have shown that working with a doula during pregnancy as well as during labor and delivery benefits everyone—birthing parent, baby and partner. Additionally, in the days, weeks and months after baby arrives, a postpartum doula can assist with newborn care, feeding, delivery recovery and sleep (glorious sleep!).
Finding the right doula match starts with where you are on your parenting journey.
I’m pregnant, and I do not want to be. Can a doula help me navigate the next steps?
Yes. We have trained, full spectrum doulas who can support you in navigating your right to choose what is best for your physical and mental well-being. If you reside outside of Illinois and need assistance getting to Chicago, please click here for additional details and resources.
What’s it like to have a birth doula?
You’ll build a trusting relationship with your team of birth doulas from day one. That means you’ll have an experienced, caring companion available by phone or text to ask questions throughout your pregnancy. Once you’re in labor, your birth doula can help with comfort measures at home, answer questions and give you peace of mind about the process ahead. She’ll provide continuous labor support at your chosen birth location, which usually means some combination of hands-on comfort measures, emotional support and offering support to the birth partner, if needed. Your doula will stay with you immediately after birth, to make sure you’re settled and to help with any lactation questions you might have. And she’ll also make a home visit, within the first few weeks, to check on you and your baby.
If I have a midwife, isn't a doula redundant?
Nope. Birth doulas don’t replace doctors or nurses. Think of them more as a trained complement to your birth team, so you have ample support and guidance during the magical, exhausting, thrilling, scary, empowering process that is childbirth. While your medical team will likely be popping in and out, as they check on other patients and make rounds, your birth doula is present for you 100 percent. For most clients (and the nervous partners with them), that’s wildly reassuring.
Will my doctor or midwife think I don’t trust them if I bring a doula?
Our team of experienced birth doulas has partnered with dozens of medical providers at most hospitals across the Chicagoland area. We have yet to meet a medical provider who is unhappy that a doula is attending the birth. Remember, you, your doctor or midwife, and your doula all want the same thing: For you to feel empowered and as comfortable as possible during your labor and delivery.
I’m 100% team epidural. Is it a waste to hire a doula?
We don’t think so. A birth doula offers hands-on help and emotional support, epidural or not. She can assist with comfort measures during early labor, provide emotional and informational support during labor’s later stages and, once it’s time to push, help with everything from keeping you calm and focused to holding your legs in the easiest position. Once the baby arrives, she can help with skin-to-skin bonding and baby’s first latch. And if you’re worried at all that you’ll feel pressured to forgo medication, fear not: Third Coast Birth + Baby is a no-judgment team that firmly believes there is no “right” way to have a baby.
Does COVID-19 make having a doula nearly impossible?
No doubt, the pandemic has changed a lot—but it doesn’t have to mean skipping the support you deserve. Birth doulas are considered essential workers, meaning they are welcome to attend and actively support births at Chicagoland hospitals. As healthcare workers, most of our team was vaccinated in early 2021. We’re happy to chat through specific questions, concerns or needs you might have about all things COVID. Or, if you’re interested in going the virtual route, we offer virtual doula support as well.
I’m pregnant, and I also have an older kiddo at home. Can a doula help with that?
Yes. A dedicated sibling doula can be 100 percent focused on the needs, questions and curiosity of your older kid while you’re laboring and delivering. This person would be on call to respond when needed (so no worrying that your neighbor who offered to babysit will be at work when your water breaks) and is trained in both childcare and fielding kids’ tough labor-related questions. You’ll have a chance to introduce the sibling doula to your child in advance and, because most Chicagoland hospitals do not allow children to be present during childbirth, you’ll have peace of mind that the sibling doula will stay with your child as long as your labor and delivery last.
I have a baby.
Why didn’t anyone tell me this would be hard?
We feel you. After nine months of pregnancy care and support, it can feel like it all comes to a screeching halt once you’ve had the baby. Suddenly, you’re left to figure out everything from breastfeeding to nap schedules, post-birth healing to poop-color decoding all by yourself. Oh! And you’re probably not getting more than a couple of hours of sleep at a time, right? Trust us: We’re here for you. Our team of postpartum doulas will support you, educate you, connect you to the right resources and recommendations and, if you want, care for your baby overnight so you can sleep. (Though our team can handle any of the million tasks and questions that pop up postpartum, sleep is absolutely the No. 1 reason people tend to seek our support!)
Is a postpartum doula the same thing as a night nurse?
Not exactly. While some families might hire a night nurse to care for their medically fragile or complicated infant, a postpartum doula is a non-medical, newborn-trained support person that cares for baby overnight. During the early weeks and months of caring for a new child, sleep can be as impactful as it is elusive: Studies show that sleep is essential for healing and has a positive impact on postpartum mood. What the families we’ve worked with also report is that uninterrupted sleep makes them feel more functional, better able to bond with their babies and parent their other children during the day.
But what does a postpartum doula do overnight?
The absolute top priority is taking care of your baby. During the very early days—when newborn sleep is fitful and feedings frequent—that likely involves plenty of feeding (or bringing to the birthing parent to feed), diaper changes, soothing and rocking. As baby’s sleep cycles lengthen, there’s more time to help prepare the entire family for the day ahead, whether that means prepping meals for tomorrow’s breakfast, folding laundry, tidying the kitchen or addressing birth announcements. We’re here to care for your family and to help this massive transition go just a bit smoother. Let us know how we can help.
I’m breastfeeding, so I’m bound to be up all night anyway. Right?
We fully support your decision to breastfeed, but doing so doesn’t have to mean you get no sleep. If you work with a postpartum doula, she can handle all of the small tasks that happen around breastfeeding—bringing the baby to you, changing diapers, soothing back to sleep—that often take just as much time, if not more, than the feeding itself. She’s also available to answer any latching or lactation questions you might have. And if pumping is part of your schedule, she can set up the machine, wash pump parts, and store breastmilk, so you can get back to sleep sooner and sleep more soundly.
Can a postpartum doula help with sleep training?
Absolutely. And though our team is trained and experienced in a variety of methods, we want to stress that we want to partner with you to develop a plan that feels appropriate for your family, whenever your little one is ready.
I have twins or a tiny apartment or a giant dog. Does a postpartum doula still make sense?
We’ve helped hundreds of families adjust to having a new baby at home—in all different types of spaces and all different types of families. We will find a way to make it work so that you get the support and attention you deserve. The first step in that journey is a candid conversation, so we know enough about you to pair you with the right doula and offer you the just-right services. Let’s talk!
I need help finding more parents with babies to commiserate with. Can you help?
Absolutely. There are several inclusive, non-judgemental online communities that we can help you gain access to. Here is one place to start. Check our Community Directory for more ways to meet other parents and find resources for you and your family.