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Expert Birth Doula Care

Wondering what expert doula care can add to your experience?

Perhaps you already have a lot going well for you; an emotionally present partner, supportive care providers, a healthy pregnancy, and a natural confidence in your ability to birth normally. Even in this ideal scenario, experienced doula care can give you a big boost towards having a beautiful birth you’ll feel great remembering. My goal is to use my well-honed skills and years of experience as a doula and midwife to help your family have what you define as a healthy and positive birth experience.

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❊   Prenatal Visits with a Birth Doula

After the free initial consultation, birth doula care with Warm Welcome includes up to 4 hour-long prenatal visits, one of which is at your home. This gives us ample time to converse about your hopes, values, and vision of your birth. I can also give you up-to-date information about the full range of options at your chosen place of birth. Based on your vision, I can help you and your partner craft a written ‘birth wishes’ page that can serve as a guide to everyone involved in your care. Between visits, you can keep me up to date on how you are feeling by phone, text, or Skype check-ins. If you are interested in how strategic use of movement and positioning can help you have a smoother birth, we can practice labor positions during a visit. Clients also receive a free pass to Creative Movement: Practical Prep for a Positive Birth.

“Choosing Michelle was the best decision my husband and I made. Three of my sisters ended their long labors in emergency c-sections and I thought I was doomed to do the same until I met Michelle. I knew right away that her calm, in control manner would quiet all my fears during labor. I was right. Michelle anticipated my every need and kept me mentally focussed during my whole labor. After only 12 hours of labor and a half hour of pushing without any medications, we welcomed our little girl to the world. Michelle worked wonderfully with the hospital staff and she will be a requirement at our next birth. Thanks, Michelle for making labor day such a great memory.”
-Lorraine, Michael and Michaela LaPlatte

❊   Doula Care during Your Birthing-Time

Birth Doula Care - Sarah Prall PhotographyFirst-time parents often appreciate being able to call directly during early labor, getting guidance on how to pace themselves during this sometimes lengthy phase of labor. I can join you as you step into early active labor (often at home) and I assist you in using the comfort techniques, movement, and other strategies that we discussed prenatally. Some birthers find themselves easily dropping into an instinctual state and coping beautifully with the waves of sensation; in that case I’m simply a quiet positive presence, reflecting back your strength and power with simple words between contractions. With your partner, I can help create a soothing environment that makes it easier for you to deepen into your mammalian wisdom. If your effort veers into overwhelm, you and your partner know I’m right there to give clear suggestions and active support.

Numerous clinical studies have examined the effects of the presence of a professional doula at birth.

Consistent findings include:
  • average labor is shorter, with fewer complications
  • reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
  • reductions in the need for pitocin (a drug used to induce or intensify labor)
  • reduced requests for pain medication and/or epidurals
  • reduction in the use of forceps or vacuum extraction
  • increase in the rate of vaginal birth
  • reduces the likelihood that the newborn will be admitted to a special care nursery

  • Research shows parents who receive birth doula care often:
  • Feel more secure and cared for
  • Are more successful in adjusting to new family dynamics
  • Have a more positive experience with breastfeeding
  • Have greater self-confidence
  • Are less likely to suffer from postpartum depression
  • BIrth Doula Care - Sarah Prall PhotographyPartners frequently comment after the birth that having doula support enabled them to trust and enjoy the birth more. They are relieved to know that they don’t have to be a walking encyclopedia of every labor support technique they read or heard about; that their vital and unique role is to love up their dear one, to be emotionally present. When physical support is desired (massage, acupuressure, positional support), partners appreciate trading off with me. In this way birthers enjoy constant support, while still allowing partners to keep their energy up with time for meals and perhaps rest times. This enables them to be ready for the big moments of witnessing the birth and welcoming baby.

    Read more about my support for partners

    After your baby is born, I stay near you for an hour or two. Typically in this time I help make sure birther has something nourishing and warm to eat or drink; and help set the scene for baby to have a good first feeding. I can take a sweet picture of your newly expanded family on your phone or camera, and leave you to rest and enjoy each other.

    ❊   Postnatal Contact with your Birth Doula

    young mother newborn florence western mass doulaAt your convenience in the first week or so, I visit you at home. This is our time to review and reminisce about your birth, talk about how your adjustment feels, how baby feeding is going, and more. A second optional office postnatal visit can be used to brainstorm about changes when partners return to work or other changes occur. If you desire more postpartum support,  schedule blocks of time for Postpartum Doula Care and receive deep nurturing for your family during this tender time.

    ❊   FAQs

    Working with me as a Doula

    Yes, either. In the doula role, I am not a health care provider; my focus is on you having a positive emotional and physical experience, working in cooperation with your medical care providers.
    I have seen that there are so many ways to have a healthy birth experience that you can feel good about. Sometimes the use of medication for pain relief (an epidural, narcotics, or nitrous oxide), helps a birthing dyad avoid the more major intervention of a cesarean birth. Sometimes a cesarean birth is the way to the healthiest birth for this particular birther and baby. My role is to support you in gathering accurate information about all your options; to help you develop a vision of your idea birth, based on your personal history and values; and then during your birthing time to use that vision for guidance, while remaining flexible and creative as actual circumstances unfold. Always the ultimate goal is for you to have the healthiest birth possible, in a way that feels emotionally positive for you.
    Your nurse probably wishes to have more time to give labor support – that’s why they entered the field of nursing. However, nurses frequently juggle multiple responsibilities; they may be caring for several laboring women simultaneously, and they must stay current with clinical tasks and copious documentation. A study by Tumblin and Simkin (2001) found that new mothers expected their nurse to spend 53% of her time offering support, but only 6%–10% of the nurse’s time was actually engaged in labor support activities.
    In the 20+ years that I’ve been attending births, I’ve supported people with a wide variety of issues, including twins, birth after age 45, VBACs after 2 cesareans, anxiety, history of trauma or abuse, bicornuate uteri, gestational diabetes, clotting disorders, and more. If a birth requires a high-tech approach for safety, the concurrent personal care of a birth doula helps shine a light on the precious human aspects of the birthing-day.
    The cesarean rate in my practice is under 9%. I have great appreciation for the well-timed cesarean; and if that becomes necessary, my work remains focussed on helping the family navigate this perhaps unexpected turn of events. At most local hospitals, birth doulas are welcomed into the operating room. Staff recognize that the doula is a calming, reassuring presence to parents; as well as being a helpful extra pair of hands to support vital skin-to-skin contact for newborn and birther as soon as feasible.
    Yes, every professional doula will have a backup in place. Though I seldom use a backup, she’s on-call in case of illness, overlapping births, teaching commitments, or unusually long births which might call for extra support.
    I care for families who live within about an hour’s radius of Florence/Northampton, Massachusetts. As a doula, I most frequently attend births at Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield; Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton; Baystate Medical Center in Springfield; and Holyoke Medical Center.
    I accept a limited number of clients for care each month. Repeat clients often call me when they are just a few weeks pregnant, and sometimes the calendar fills surprisingly quickly. In other words, if you are considering doula care, now is the best time to be in touch!
    Yes, I have training and experience supporting families who choose to use hypnosis (such as Hypnobabies) during their births. It's remarkable how much more quickly those who practice hypnosis can deepen into the 'laborland' state of mind. I'm glad to help enhance that process for you.
    Book your Free Doula Consult Now

    “I think one of the best things we could do would be to help women/parents/families discover their own birth power, from within themselves. And to let them know it’s always been there, they just needed to tap into it.” -J.H. Kennell, MD

    “Every family deserves a Warm Welcome! ~ Todas las familias merecen una cálida bienvenida!”

    Michelle L’Esperance, Certified Professional Midwife, Doula & Doula Trainer. (413) 858-5048. Supporting families in Western Massachusetts.

    Serving Northampton, Amherst, Easthampton, Southhampton, Westhampton, Williamsburg, Hadley, Holyoke, Deerfield, South Deerfield, Greenfield, Conway, Turner’s Falls, Palmer, Leverett, Sunderland, Belchertown, South Hadley, Ashfield, Worthington, Chesterfield, Ware and the surrounding region.

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