Support through pregnancy and childbirth

Congratulations!

Now that the initial rush of feelings - excitement, shock, worry - have passed, take a deep breath.

I know it's daunting. The next few months will be filled with changes. You'll make plans and prepare to give birth.

You've heard of a birth doula, but you're not sure how that relates to you. What do they do? How does it work? Is it just like another midwife? How much do they cost? Why would you want one?

 

Relax! These are really common questions!

Take a deep breath, and read on for your answers.

Image of a woman look offscreen, a thoughtful expression on her face.

A birth doula provides practical, emotional and informational support to families throughout pregnancy, labour and birth.

What does that mean?

It means I provide you with whatever support you need. Doulas occupy a role of continuous support, which is rare for women to receive in our current maternity system, although there are plans to roll out Continuity of Carer across the country over the next decade. In the past your immediate family and neighbours would have provided you with a close-knit network which would have supported you from all sides. Nowadays, though, it is really common for women to live far away from their families, not know their neighbours, and not see the same midwife twice during their ante- and post-partum care. Doulas help to fill that gap by being a familiar and experienced face for you, and also support you unconditionally when you might be faced with questions or lack of support by those around you - whether that be friends, family or medical professionals.

She supported me without any judgement.

We needed our choices to be accepted. Caz provided a flexible, caring and supportive package throughout the pregnancy.

A birth doula will discover what you want from your birth, and help you to (hopefully) acheive it by offering suggestions, helping to write birth plans, signposting to sources of information or specialists. She will support you in your choices and stand by them if others are questioning why. She is employed by you and is not associated with the hospital at all. She doesn't offer any clincal care, and won't give you advice or tell you what to do.

What's life like when you hire a birth doula?

I work with you during pregnancy to debrief your previous births (if any),
discuss your hope and fears about your upcoming birth, write your birth plan,
talk about the postnatal period and discuss infant feeding methods.
We get to know each other really well and you can contact me any time to ask questions.

Usually this will happen in person during one or more visits at your home, but can also
happen via electronic means. Whatever you choose, we remain in regular contact and if there are
any developments during the pregnancy which may have bearing on the birth
then we would talk about them together.

I typically go on-call at 38 weeks gestation. However, I can go on call earlier or later if your
history leads us to believe this would be a good idea. I am available for you to contact 24/7
and I stay on-call until you have given birth.

Here's what some previous clients have said...

Having a doula service made us feel like VIPs and individuals, rather than one of very many being looked after by very busy health services.

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Helen

2019

I had high anxiety about the labour and birth. She helped us become informed on all aspects of labour and birth so that we were in control, which I needed. I knew at any time I could contact her and ask questions.

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Sam

2014

The theme of the pregnancy, with my queries and questions, was reassurance and Caz directing me to look inside myself for the answers. I learnt to trust myself and my body.

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Amy

2015

Hiring me is like having your own personal birth encyclopedia, who never judges you,
gives you as much information about different options as you want,
and stands beside you when other people are doubting you.

I look after your emotional wellbeing, and that of your other birth partners.
I protect and maintain your birth environment so that you can labour and birth comfortably,
remind you of your preferences when they slip your mind, and ask for breathing space
if you are under pressure to make a decision quickly.

My only priority is you and your experience.

Let's talk science!

Image showing a flow chart of the benefits of continuous support in labour.

The research shows that having continuous support throughout labour and birth is associated with a whole host of positive outcomes for both parents and babies.

These benefits include:

  • shorter labours
  • more satisfying birth experiences
  • helping partners be involved with confidence
  • less pain relief
  • fewer assisted and caesarean births
  • higher incidences of breastfeeding

I have a blog post you may find useful, and there are also some research studies listed below if you like that sort of thing!

The authors show that doulas:

  • shorten first-time labor by an average of two hours;
  • decrease the chance of a cesarean section by 50%;
  • decrease the need for pain medication;
  • help fathers participate with confidence;
  • increase success in breast-feeding.

Available from Amazon.

Meta-analysis of previous research studies showed that women who received continuous support (especially from someone who was not a member of the woman's social circle, or a member of hospital staff) through labour and birth:

  • were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal birth;
  • were less likely to have assisted or caesarean births;
  • had shorter labours;
  • had less analgesia;
  • were less likely to have a baby with low Apgar scores; and
  • were less likely to report dissatisfaction with their birth experience.

 

I cannot GUARANTEE that you will have a perfect birth.... ...but doulas DO make a positive birth more likely!

Supporting whole families together

Sometimes dads/co-mothers, or even grandparents, can question why their partner feels
the need for a stranger to be present at their birth. They can feel hurt, rejected, or resentful at the idea of having someone else present at a private and special time.

I am not there to replace your other birth partners, but to support your whole family,
including your partner and any older children. Some partners have specific anxieties surrounding birth: perhaps they are traumatised by a previous experience, aren't comfortable with the sight of blood or are worried they might forget something. They may feel torn between supporting you
and getting the practical things done that need doing.

I will help to create an environment in which each of your birth partners can do what they feel comfortable with, whether that be a very active role or the opposite. I may take on a very active role and be very present with you, or I may step back and protect the birth space so that your partner can be your main support, or I may switch between the two.

On flexible support for families...

My husband is terrified of labour/birth (despite me doing it 3 times previous) and in my first 2 I felt I was supporting him rather than the other way around.

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Lisa

2017

She stepped forward when we needed her and stepped back when we didn't.

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Sam

2014

Both my husband and I were left very anxious about how the pregnancy and birth would be for our second child. He had someone to support him, while I journeyed through labour.

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Amy

2015

Birth is inherently unpredictable and has the potential to take unexpected twists and turns.

If that happens, it is easy for both you and your partner to feel suddenly out of your depth.
It is particularly difficult for partners to see their loved one in a situation where things aren't going to plan. The presence of a doula when that happens often helps partners to remain calm, and helps both parents to maintain some control over the birth experience.

Image of a child playing with a doll that gives birth. An inflatable doll birth pool waits in front of him.

Don't forget the kids!

I carry several useful child-centric
resources (books and dolls) for
learning about how babies are born,
what might happen during the labour,
and exploring feelings around having a new baby in the house.

A black and white image of a toddler cuddling a newborn baby wrapped in a blanket. The toddler is touching his brother's nose.

Everyone deserves support at this time of change!

A woman holds her newborn baby to her chest, and touches her face with a finger. Her partner looks down on them both.

The best start

Having a positive birth is not about what kind of birth you have or what choices you make.

Positive birth is a state of mind.

Whether you have an elective induction at 37 weeks or a homebirth in water, hiring me as your birth doula can be an integral part of planning your positive birth, making choices that feel right for you, and remaining in control.

When you have a positive birth, you are well placed to begin your journey into parenthood, and I will remain available for the first few months, even if you have not booked postpartum doula support.

What previous clients say...

I would not hesitate to book her again (I know many people have also repeat booked her) or to recommend her to others.

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Lydia

2016

Caz helped me acheive such an amazing, undisturbed, peaceful birth; without her there I know this wouldn't have happened and I can never thank her enough!

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Lisa

2017

Caz believed in me when I stopped believing in myself. She will always have a special place in my heart.

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Lenka

2018

Are you ready to hear the details? Keep scrolling!

Support tailored to suit you

I work with you to organise support in the way that is most useful to you and your family.

Below are my standard packages, which are named after fertility/childbirth goddesses.

  • In person interview
  • Pregnancy/birth related telephone, text, WhatsApp and email support, 9am - 9pm
  • 24/7 availability from 38 weeks until birth
  • Support during labour and birth
  • Borrowing any resources from the library
  • Birth pool and TENS hire included
  • 4 x 2hr antenatal visits
  • Attending unlimited hospital appts/scans
  • 20 hours postnatal doula support
  • 2 x Closing The Bones massages
  • Ongoing telephone, text, WhatsApp and email support after the birth, 9am - 9pm

  • In person interview
  • Pregnancy/birth related telephone, text, WhatsApp and email support, 9am - 9pm
  • 24/7 availability from 38 weeks until birth
  • Support during labour and birth
  • Borrowing any resources from the library
  • Birth pool and TENS hire included
  • 3 x 2hr antenatal visits
  • Attending up to 2 hospital appts/scans
  • 2 x 2hr postnatal visits
  • 1 x Closing The Bones massage
  • Ongoing telephone, text, WhatsApp and email support after the birth, 9am - 9pm
  • 10% off quoted bellycasting/Mother Blessing prices

  • In person interview
  • Pregnancy/birth related telephone, text, WhatsApp and email support, 9am - 9pm
  • 24/7 availability from 38 weeks until birth
  • Support during labour and birth
  • Borrowing any resources from the library
  • Birth pool and TENS hire included
  • 2 x 2hr antenatal visit
  • 1 x 2hr postnatal visit
  • 1 x Closing The Bones massage
  • Up to two month's worth of telephone, text, WhatsApp and email support after the birth, 9am - 9pm

  • In person interview
  • Pregnancy/birth related telephone, text, WhatsApp and email support, 9am - 9pm
  • 24/7 availability from 38 weeks until birth
  • Support during labour and birth
  • Borrowing books from the library
  • Up to one month's worth of telephone, text, WhatsApp and email support after the birth, 9am - 9pm

I charge mileage at a rate of 45p/mile for addresses further than 15 miles from my home.
Other expenses are also chargeable but I try to keep them as low as possible.

The next steps...

When you contact me, let me know your EDD and location. Sometimes I am unavailable or the distance is prohibitive. Either way I will do my best reply to you within three days.

We will arrange a mutually convenient time for me to visit you at your home to see whether or not we click, talk about what your support needs are and how we might work together, and iron out any potential difficulties.

If you decide you want to book, you will need to complete a booking form and send your first payment for me to block out your on-call period in my diary.

Frequently Asked Questions

No. I assure you, I have no interest in being a midwife. And a doula is not a replacement for a midwife either.

At your birth, your midwives are responsible for your medical care and that of your baby. I support them by building rapport between the entire team, taking care of practical support that midwives can't always provide due to the demands of their job, and knowing your wishes for when you are in labour land and can't speak. Midwives and doulas work together to support you!

If you are giving birth by caesarean section I will accompany you to the hospital on the day of your planned surgery and stay with you until you have left recovery and are settled onto the postnatal ward.

If you are planning to be induced I will visit you at the beginning of your induction (because inductions often take a few days), and then come to stay with you once labour has started.

Yes. My typical fee structure is three roughly equal payments made at booking, 38 weeks and the postnatal meeting. However, we can also organise monthly payments if you prefer, and the balance must be paid off by the time the baby is 1.

I offer the following discounts on my fees:

  • 10% discount to other home educating families;
  • 10% discount to families where one or both parents are registered as self-employed;
  • free support to teenaged parents.

Please be prepared to provide proof if I ask for it.

There are several options. We can discuss ways to reduce the fees by changing the amount and type of support I provide for you and I have four packages which suit different budgets. You can ask friends and family to contribute towards the cost. I also have a hardship fund which I can use to pay my expenses when supporting those in dire financial hardship - this is funded by clients who have appreciated my services and wanted to help other people access the same kind of support they have enjoyed. To donate to this fund please contact me.

I am currently searching for clients who are (approximately) due in:

  • November-December '20
  • end of March '21
  • end of June '21

However, please get in touch to find out for sure if I can support you.

I can and do overlap birth doula clients. My first priority will be the client(s) who booked first. If you would like to book, knowing that your on-call will overlap with someone else, we can either:

  • arrange shared care with a second doula (we both do ante/postnatal meetings and divide up the on-call);
  • arrange a back-up doula who will cover me for a few days;
  • wing it and take the chance that I may not be able to attend your birth.

I have done all of these in the past and I'm happy to be guided by you.

I cover births anywhere in West Yorkshire, and into surrounding counties:
North Yorkshire, Lancashire, South Yorkshire and East Yorkshire.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is the travel time when you go into labour. Even locally it can take me 60-90 minutes to arrive after you call, so travelling further adds to that time. However, if we are right for each other we can usually make it work.

Ready to start your Starfish Story?