Meet Doula Heather, an experienced birth doula on our team based in Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA. With an impressive six-year presence in the Vancouver, Washington birth community, she proudly serves as a certified doula at Baby Nest.
She is the class clown on our doula team, always making us laugh. Her light-hearted nature is matched with a brilliant brain and an incredible calm in stressful times (which makes her an amazing doula). Join us for a cozy chat over tea or coffee as we delve into her world of being a professional labor support, and what it’s really like to be a doula.
What made you want to become a birth doula?
After the birth of my two children, I realized not everyone got to have the amazing, empowering births that I experienced. So many others I knew had traumatic births! Though my births were not without complications I felt heard, informed, respected, and supported every step of the way by my birth team and doula. I became a birth doula to help others have positive experiences.
Describe your doula style.
My doula style is to support my clients in their desires and choices for their birth. I learn what my client’s preferences are, then help them to access the evidence-based information they need in order to make decisions based on risks, benefits, and alternatives. My ultimate goal is for my client to feel they had a positive birth experience in which they felt heard, supported, and respected.
What is one thing you wish your clients all did?
Sleep during early labor!! The number one reason a client whose goal was to labor naturally gets an epidural is not because they’re in so much discomfort – it’s because they’re tired! Even if you can only doze off between contractions, those little bits of rest can help you make it through.
What advice do you give to someone hiring a professional birth support?
Have some questions to ask, but also just have a conversation! See if the potential doula feels like a good fit for your birth goals, as well as personally. See what other people are saying – always check for testimonials and reviews.
When you aren’t being a doula, what do you love to do?
I enjoy spending time with my husband and kids! We love to travel to Idaho to ski with Grandma and Grandpa every winter. During the summer I spend a lot of time in my garden, growing fruits and vegetables (last year I grew over 15 pounds of potatoes!).
Tell us the training you took to become a doula.
I trained with the wonderful midwife Gerri Ryan to become a DONA certified birth doula. I learned so much during my training, and have learned even more with over six years of birth work and over 80 births attended.
What advice would you give to a new doula?
Give yourself grace! You’re learning and growing, soak in every bit of it and take time to reflect on what you did well, and what you could do better. Be humble when you walk into a birthing space, for both your client and the rest of the care team.
How do you include the partner during labor?
I start by including the partner in prenatal. We discuss the partner’s needs and desires during labor and birth. The partner and I practice comfort measures and positions with the birthing person. During labor, the partner and I work together as a team to support the birthing person emotionally and physically. I have the tools and training to support, but the partner knows the birthing person better than anyone else in that room! Whenever there is a decision that needs to be made, we all discuss options, risks & benefits, together.
What’s your doula superpower?
Observing and acting. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Oftentimes I can help my clients make adjustments that help get them through – for example, if their vocalizations sound high and panicky, helping them bring their voice low and jaw soft. When the client is doing amazing and everything looks & sounds good, holding space with them, encouraging them, and providing hydration.
What would someone be surprised that you do?
Someone might be surprised that I am there to support the partner as well as the birthing person. Partners benefit from reminders to stay hydrated and nourished, and plenty of emotional support as well. Birth is a winding road, and can be emotionally exhausting for partners too. One of the wonderful parts of getting to know clients in prenatal appointments is that the partner feels comfortable relying on me for this support!
What’s one of your go-to items in your doula bag?
A sleep mask! I always have a brand new one in my bag to give to the birthing person – whether it’s for the car ride on the way to the birthing place, or for getting some much-needed rest during the daytime hours – always comes in handy!
After a birth, how what is your doula self-care ritual?
Sleep, sleep, and more sleep! I do the same self-care that I advise for my clients: rest, hydration, and nutrition. It typically takes about 3 nights of consistent sleep to get back to normal!
How has being a birth doula changed you?
Being a birth doula has changed me in so many ways! I feel much more emotionally open, compassionate, and patient. I’ve become a better listener, teacher, guide, and companion. I have become more involved in my community, even advocating to local representatives for better maternal care here in Washington. Being a birth doula has also helped me to become a better advocate for my son, who has special needs.
What are some of your loves and interests outside of birth work?
I love spending time with friends and family. I like to craft – sewing, needlepoint, cross stitch, and more. When I’m not on call, I love to enjoy a pint of local craft beer. I take time off every winter to go skiing with my family, a long-standing tradition that will remain until I’m too old to hop on a pair of skis!
What’s the most rewarding thing about being a birth doula?
The most rewarding thing about being a doula is getting to see birthing people and their partners really take hold of their immense power, become advocates for themselves. Oh, and of course seeing babies be welcomed into the world!
What’s the most challenging thing about this job?
The most challenging part of this job has, hands down, been the recent pandemic. Restrictions on support people in hospitals and worrying about the health of the families I serve.
What is included in your doula support?
Included in our Baby Nest doula support package:
- two prenatal visits in my client’s home;
- unlimited email/text/phone support;
- on-call from 38-42 weeks;
- labor and birth support from the onset of active labor;
- immediate postpartum support for 1-2 hours to assist with recovery and breastfeeding;
- two postpartum visits to process and celebrate the birth;
- provide additional breastfeeding; and newborn care support, resources
We offer free doula consults for anyone who is wanting birth support and looking for a birth doula to join their team. <Schedule a FREE consult online here>
As a team member of the trusted Baby Nest Birth doula team, doula Heather extends her fabulous care (and humor) to families in and around the Vancouver, Washington metro area. She has extensive home birth and birth center experience but also supports clients in all local Vancouver and Portland, OR hospitals.
If you’re on the lookout for compassionate and dedicated doula support, consider reaching out for a FREE CONSULTATION. Baby Nest birth doulas. This is a chance to connect, ask questions, and discover the perfect fit for your family and birth team so you can have the most empowering birth experience.