East River Doula Collective
Timestamps & Transcript
0:00 - Introduction & Welcome from Director Lisa
1:18 - What is a birth doula?
4:27 - What’s included in a birth doula package?
5:14 - What’s a postpartum doula?
6:49 - How East River Doula Collective works - structure & logistics
Hi! I’m Lisa Greaves Taylor, director of the East River Doula Collective (formerly known as Astoria Doula Collective). I’m also founder of and childbirth educator for Birth Matters NYC, a birth doula, lactation counselor, and host of the Birth Matters podcast, which shares mostly New York-based birth stories. I’ve been doing birth work here in New York since 2010.
As you’re expecting a baby, it’s really important to thoughtfully plan for support, which is not only needed during pregnancy and giving birth, but also after birth. East River Doula Collective is here to meet that need. We provide several kinds of doulas -- birth doulas, postpartum doulas, full-spectrum doulas, even a fertility doula for anyone trying to conceive a baby. Because most folks coming to us are looking for a birth and/or postpartum doula, I wanted to take a few moments to explain the role of each of these as well as some of the benefits to help you further consider what might be most supportive for you. Because if you’re anything like my husband and I were in my first pregnancy, you might not be entirely clear on what the heck a doula is and does and why hiring one might just be the best investment ever toward protecting your mental and physical health in this journey into parenthood.
What’s a birth doula?
So first, what’s a birth doula?
A birth doula is a non-clinical support provider. Just to reduce a common point of confusion, a doula is a different role from a midwife. A midwife is a clinical care provider, focused on the physical health of the birthing parent and baby. A birth doula provides all kinds of support in pregnancy, labor and birth; we provide emotional, physical, strategic, informational support, and we’re your personal advocate, similar in ways to a patient advocate. We help your voice be heard in times when you may feel vulnerable and unable to readily speak up for yourself.
I also like to liken a doula to a day-of wedding coordinator or a field guide. Someone who helps you feel more peaceful and calm through this very new and exciting but also nerve-wracking process.
Did you know that there’s evidence that shows birth doulas significantly improve outcomes AND satisfaction as well as reduce rates of multiple kinds of interventions, including pain medications and c-sections? In fact, the main ruling authority over our maternal healthcare system, American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, or ACOG, stated in 2017 that one evidence-based way we can improve outcomes and reduce unnecessary interventions is to have doula support.
“Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor.” - Approaches to Limit Intervention During Labor and Birth (ACOG, 2017)] https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2019/02/approaches-to-limit-intervention-during-labor-and-birth
For more on the evidence on and benefits of hiring a doula: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/
Now, in case you’re thinking that doulas are only for folks who want a completely unmedicated birth, that’s actually not true. A birth doula is there to honor whatever your very personal preferences are -- without judgment. This is not necessarily true for all doulas outside our collective, but it’s a prerequisite for joining East River Doula Collective. We value, because our clients value, inclusive, customized support that’s without judgment.
A birth doula helps you labor at home for a longer amount of time, which is important in any birth setting, but particularly strategic when giving birth in a hospital setting.
A common concern we hear from partners (where applicable) is, “I don’t want to hire a doula because I don’t want to be replaced.” Doulas absolutely do NOT replace an involved, supportive partner! (Unless you want to be replaced, that is!) We’re there to support partners, too. We remind you rest, to hydrate, to eat. We give partners support tips. It’s also really nice, important even, to have someone to trade out or team up with as needed, particularly given some labors can be quite long. In the prenatal visit or two that you have with your doula, we get to know each other and learn how to best support you personally. We want to fit in as seamlessly and supportively as possible, like the missing puzzle piece.
What's Included in a Birth Doula Package?
You might be wondering, given birth doulas charge a flat rate, what’s included in the package?
You’ll see subtle variations from one doula contract to the next, but generally, the flat rate you pay for a birth doula covers 1 or 2 prenatal visits, being available to answer questions during pregnancy as needed, being on call 24/7 starting around 37 weeks until you give birth, continuous labor support all the way through to a couple of hours after birth to help bonding and feeding get off to a good start, and an optional postpartum visit.
If you take birth class with me, I’ll give you lots more specific examples of how golden doula support is. But that’s the birth doula’s role in a nutshell.
What's a postpartum doula?
Next, what is a postpartum doula?
A postpartum doula is a professional who’s expert in not only newborn care and infant feeding, including breastfeeding or chestfeeding, but is also focused on and expert in supporting the physical and mental health and healing of the postpartum parent. It’s a different and more holistic role than that of a baby nanny or night nurse. They can often help with some light cooking and cleaning, too. Some postpartum doulas work days only, while others also do overnights. Most postpartum doulas work on an hourly basis, though some offer packages with a certain allotment, and then you can decide on an hourly basis if and how much you might need their services beyond that initial allotment.
Some birth doulas are also postpartum doulas, but not all. For those who are, and when you find a great one for you, having one doula serve in both roles can be a really nice continuum of care.
Whether you’re considering a birth doula or a postpartum doula (or both), I recommend that you make your list of things you'd like to have in a doula and then ask questions based on that list. We do recommend interviewing more than one doula to find just the right fit. Ask yourself, "would I feel comfortable and safe with this person when I'm at my most vulnerable -- and possibly even literally naked?" Again, you want to be sure you’re hiring the best one to suit your personality and needs.
How we work
The last thing I want to explain today is how we work.
The way East River Doula Collective works is that we serve as a referral service for you and a community of support and backup for each other.
For you, this mostly means we help determine who might be the best potential doula options for you and then connect you with them so you can have a complimentary consult with one or more doulas. Our doulas are autonomous in that they set their own rates and contract terms. So, if you decide to hire any of them, all interactions and negotiations from the introduction point forward would be between you and the doula.
The two ways to find doula support with us are to either attend one of our free MEET THE DOULAS events, or to complete the quick inquiry form linked on our website. Then we’ll respond privately with a list of customized doula options along with their rates. You decide which doulas you’d like to connect with for a complimentary consult, and we coordinate those introductions for you. Nice and easy!
It’s important to be aware, that the 1 or 2 prenatal meetings with your doula won’t provide enough time to adequately educate and prepare you, so all of us in the collective feel the scenario that will best equip you is a team approach -- that is, for expectant parents to pursue both birth classes AND doula support.
To that end, please do take a look around our website (which, if you’re not already there, is eastriverdoulas.nyc for other supportive offerings such as workshops and classes). If you need birth classes, I’d be honored to have you in class -- please visit birthmattersnyc.com for a number of options, including group classes, private classes, and an online, self-paced version of my all-in-one comprehensive course. Some of the other doulas in our collective also teach birth classes from time to time -- mostly privately.
East River Doula Collective and Birth Matters are passionate about helping growing families have healthier, happier, more fulfilling journeys into parenthood. We’d truly love to serve you in this exciting time in your life, and we hope to connect with you soon to find out what optimal support looks like for you!