Birth and Postpartum Doula Support for Families in the Silicon Valley

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients who want to learn more about our doula services. Hopefully this will answer most of the questions you have for us, but if not, we would love for you to schedule a time for us to meet and answer all your questions.

What is a doula?

Good question! Doulas provide emotional, physical, and informational support to people, especially those who are preparing to conceive, are pregnant, are in labor, or who have recently had a baby. There are doulas for all stages and flavors of life but are most well known for support during pregnancy and birth. 

What kind of emotional support do doulas provide?

Lets just going to be honest here: this is hard to quantify. And we tend to be verbose so I’m going to try to keep it succinct.

We are there. Really there for our clients. With presence. Holding space. Staying connected. Noticing the nuances of your body language. Gently asking questions to understand your hopes, dreams, and fears about birth and parenting. Helping you find coping strategies to deal with stress, anxiety, and other mood challenges. 

We provide support without judgement. Whatever comes up, we know its not our circus. Its yours. And we’re not there to run your show. We want you in charge. Feeling confident. Feeling supported. Feeling safe to speak up for what you want and what you need. 

Pregnancy and birth are often the first opportunities many people have to really interface with the medical system. And its nice having someone there with you. Who has been through it personally and professionally. Someone who isn’t scared for you. Someone who is excited for you. Someone to share in your joy. Someone with a shoulder to cry on. Someone who knows how to be there for you, no matter what comes up. 

And that being said, we are not therapists and while we can provide emotional support and psycho-education, we know how to assess for needs beyond our scope and know when to refer to a qualified MFT or LCSW. We maintain connections with providers in our community that specialize in supporting emotional and mental health during the perinatal period. 

What kind of physical support do doulas provide?

Oh this is a fun one. We love getting to talk about this because most of the time people ask this question and they think we’re going to talk about massage and positions. And indeed, during labor, we help with massage and we help with positions.

But if we’re being honest it doesn’t always look like it sounds. Massage in labor looks less like a 90 min deep tissue and more like constant pressure in one or two spots. Or acupressure on very specific points. Or light strokes that are almost like petting. For hours. And the positions are not just for the sake of moving. They are positions to bring comfort, or balance comfort with progress, or help provide a safer more comfortable space and passage for baby to move through. 

And it doesn’t start or end in labor. Our physical support looks like helping people connect to yoga and other exercise classes for fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum. We help our clients with activities and exercises to help them bring balance to their pregnant body to optimize their opportunity for a safer, more comfortable, and maybe even faster birth. We assess and make referrals to the best specialists in pregnancy and postpartum: physical therapists, massage therapists, acupuncturists, chiropractors, etc.

We discuss all the things about sex. We help navigate postpartum recovery. We talk about what is normal (and not normal!) with the childbearing body. We talk about using your chest differently for the first time in your life. And other bodily secretions. We are there for you to be the place where you can ask about the weird thing you don’t want to ask anyone. 

How do doulas provide informational support?

Ok, no THIS is our favorite question. Why? Because we are nerds about pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Basically, we want to be your google. Because theres a lot of noise and trash out there and sometimes its hard to know what to read first. We’ve taken the time to suss out the resources that are going to be the most helpful. They’re probably the ones that are based on evidence. We like science. We also like a healthy dose of skepticism, so we aren’t just sending you the ACOG bulletins either.

For our team specifically, we are educators at heart and we often talk about being your childbirth educator in the room with you. We know all about birth and combined we have taught thousands of hours of childbirth and parent education to Bay Area families. We also teach in-person and online childbirth education classes and workshops.

And then there are the options you have along the way. The best way we like to talk about it is with this analogy:

Have you been to In-and-Out burger? I bet you have. Now, if you were going for the first time, you might order a cheeseburger, fries, and a vanilla milkshake. And you’d have a lovely meal. But, we’re like the friend that goes with you to help initiate you to the ways of the secret menu. There are grilled cheese sandwiches. And animal style fries. And Neapolitan milkshakes!

We’re like that friend that takes you to In-and-Out and shows you the way. If you don’t know what your options are, you don’t have any options. And we know the secret menu of birth. And we want to help you have an amazing experience.

Does your team help with breastfeeding?

Yes! In addition to our roles as doulas, we also provide breastfeeding support. Stephanie is a Certified Lactation Educator and former La Leche League Leader and Czarina is a Certified Lactation Counselor. We can provide support for families initiating breastfeeding after birth and help with most normal breastfeeding concerns. AND as with all the things we do, we also provide important assessment and referrals to International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) when we see that our clients’ needs exceed our scope. 

When do you join people in labor?

It really depends on the person. We leave our support open ended. We have worked with clients who call us in as early labor progresses towards active labor. We have people who call us in to meet them at the hospital and we have people who have us meet them at home. We’ve had clients who called us in just for pushing, and we’ve had clients who chose not to call us in at all (and we’re completely thrilled with their births!)

One thing that is consistent is that we encourage people to get comfortable with asking for what they need. Self-advocacy is extremely important to us. So we put the onus on our clients. We expect you to tell us when you’re ready for physical support. And once you say the magic words, we head your way.

The tricky part about this question, is that most people are really asking, “Will you come in early labor?” and the answer is yes. Sort of. Early labor is often the longest stage of labor. At the beginning of early labor, contractions are reeeeally far apart. Like, 15-20 minutes in between. Most of the people we work with feel pretty confident about meeting the challenge of early labor on their own or with their labor support person. But as early labor progresses, contractions come closer together 4-5 minutes apart. Honestly, at the beginning of labor, we would be more of a hindrance than a helping hand. But towards the end of early labor, theres LOTS we can do to help! So do we come in early labor? Yes. Sort of. 😉

How does it work with your team? Who shows up?

With our team model, you know its going to be one of the doulas on our team. We maintain relationships with doulas in our community in the off chance that we need a backup in an emergency, however, in the years since we founded Silicon Valley Doulas, we have never needed to utilize any outside support. Our team model means that you don’t have to worry about meeting a backup doula in labor because we have a sustainable model that prevents the need for one. 

Let me back up a bit. Many doula practices are owned and operated by a single doula. That doula is obviously not superhuman so they arrange a back-up doula to be available in case of an emergency, illness, or a long labor. 

In 2016 we decided that wasn’t working for us anymore. Thats when we created Silicon Valley Doulas team model. With a team of doulas, we are able to provide the same continuous support for our clients, without over-promising and under-delivering on our services. The research shows that after 12-18 hours, the ability to be empathetic begins to plummet. And empathy is foundational to our support. We also know that going 24+ hours without sleep is unhealthy and unsustainable. So we created a model that allows our doulas to support families by weaving layers of support around them. Our skillful doulas transition seamlessly during labors, providing truly continuous support from familiar faces no matter how long your labor lasts.

What is your philosophy on pain management drugs?

In birth, everything is a tool. Massage is a tool. Position changes are tools. And pain management drugs are tools. And there are times when some tools are more appropriate than others. We help people navigate labor and birth knowing what tools are available and when they are most appropriate.

When we hear this question, what we think we are really hearing is, “What do you think about epidurals?” And the truth of it is that while we can break down the intended and unintended effects of any drugs, we don’t really have an agenda on what people incorporate into their birth. We want people to have a positive experience and we know there are different pathways to achieving that end.

Some people work with us knowing that they want an unmedicated birth. We help them achieve that.

Some people work with us knowing that they want an epidural. We help them navigate the best time to get it. 

Some people work with us without knowing if they want to use pain meds or not – and we help them navigate the best ways to prepare, gain clarity on their preferences, and achieve their goals for a positive experience.

Know when to use the right tool for the job. Don’t try to fix a fish tank with a hammer. 

What is the difference between virtual and in-person support?

During the Time of Corona, the difference between virtual and in-person support is our in-person support during labor. For our clients choosing virtual support, everything about our services is exactly the same, we just won’t join you when you are in labor. Instead, we will rely on phone, text, and video conferencing, or whatever combination of the three works best for you.

What is the difference between birth doula and postpartum doula support?

Our birth doula package includes prenatal support, birth support, and postpartum support delivered in a combination of email, virtual, and in-person support. Our birth doula package includes one postpartum appointment and phone/text/email support during the fourth trimester. We are available to answer questions, help you troubleshoot, and provide the same level of emotional and informational support that we offer during your pregnancy.

We also offer postpartum doula support, which is slightly different, and separate from the support included in our birth package. With postpartum doula support, we come to your home and stay for several hours, or even overnight. During that time we are able to do more than we would during a 1 hour appointment. We are able to observe and support multiple feeding sessions. We can help you to observe and interpret your baby’s signals. We can help you learn how to care for your newborn; skills like soothing, dressing/changing, and bathing the baby. We can spend as much time as you want processing your birth and postpartum experience. We can capture precious photos of your family during the fleeting moments of the fourth trimester. And of course we can help to hold your baby while you eat a meal, take a shower, or take time to sleep. We are like an extra parent in the house and we remain flexible to support the family however the help is needed.

We also offer virtual parent coaching, including postpartum support. During a parent coaching session, we can discuss everything listed above and more. And – we can continue to support you as you identify milestones as your baby grows older, and continue to offer coaching as you return to work, start solids, navigate sleep challenges, and adapt to life with a toddler/two-year-old/preschooler/etc.

What is the difference between your birth consulting services and birth doula services?

Basically, the difference is that when we are working with you for birth doula support, either in-person or virtually, that we are on-call and available to support you whenever your labor begins and for as long as you are in labor.

With our consulting services, we’re not going to be there with you during your birth, either in-person, or virtually, but we are going to be there for you prenatally to help you navigate pregnancy and prepare for a positive experience so that when you go into labor, there are relatively few unknowns before you.

Why? Partly because of #pandemic2020. We know that hospitals are only allowing one support person, and that means that there often is no room for the doula in the birth room. And we know that virtual support, while valuable and effective in its own way, is no substitute for having a doula physically present with you. We wanted to create a more appropriate option for families who still want our expertise as they prepare for a positive birth experience.

Looking for a Bay Area Doula?

Have you been wondering how to find a doula in the Bay Area? We make this easy for you! You can meet the doulas at one of our community workshops or request a free consultation. When you hire our doula team you become a member of a supportive community of fellow Bay Area families and you'll have access to our Community Workshops throughout your pregnancy and early parenting. During each workshop we cover a topic related to pregnancy, birth, and parenting and provide time for Q&A and community support.

We offer comprehensive preparation and support for Silicon Valley families at every step of the journey. We hold safe space and are an inclusive practice for our vibrant diverse community. We offer services to families in the South San Francisco Bay Area including Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Alameda, and San Benito counties. We're looking forward to supporting you and welcoming you to our community of families.

 

Upcoming Classes and Workshops

Our workshops are included in our birth packages for Silicon Valley Doula clients. Learn more about how our workshops go beyond basic labor prep and comfort measures to help you Rock Your Birth!

 

Serving the South San Francisco Bay Area!

San Jose, Santa Clara, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, San Carlos, Foster City, Redwood City, Fremont, Milpitas, Santa Cruz, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Hollister

We serve families choosing to birth at home or at Casa Natal Birth Center, Full Moon Birth Center, Kaiser San Jose, Kaiser Santa Clara, Kaiser Redwood City, Sequoia Hospital, El Camino Mountain View, El Camino Los Gatos, Good Samaritan Hospital, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, O'Connor Hospital, Regional Medical Center, Sutter Maternity Center, Dominican Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital, and Hazel Hawkins Hospital.

Looking for a Bay Area Doula?

Have you been wondering how to find a doula in the Bay Area? We make this easy for you! You can meet the doulas at one of our community workshops or request a private consultation in your home or our private studio. When you hire our doula team you become a member of a supportive community of fellow Bay Area families and you'll have access to our Community Workshops throughout your pregnancy and early parenting. During each workshop we cover a topic related to pregnancy, birth, and parenting and provide time for Q&A and community support.

We offer comprehensive preparation and support for Silicon Valley families at every step of the journey. All are welcome. We hold safe space and are an inclusive practice for our vibrant diverse community. We offer services to families in the South San Francisco Bay Area including Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Southern Alameda and San Mateo counties. We're looking forward to supporting you and welcoming you to our community of families.

Upcoming Classes and Workshops

Our workshops are included in our birth packages for Silicon Valley Doula clients. Learn more about how our workshops go beyond basic labor prep and comfort measures to help you Rock Your Birth!