The word Doula is a Greek word that means “with mother” or “woman servant”. In modern usage, it refers to a woman who assists another woman during labor and provides support to her, the infant, and the family after childbirth.
In the old days, women with a new infant had the support of their entire community, extended family and church. Everyone around them helped out and many had a general knowledge of babies and breastfeeding. Now, in modern times, we live in a fast-paced society where families generally live far away and everyone is busy with work and obligations.
Women no longer have the community support they used to have and most people do not have the basic infant-care insight. Most women when they have their first baby have never even seen a mother breastfeed. Most fathers have never changed a diaper or held an infant. This is why the need for Birth and Postpartum Doula support arose. A Doula is a professional who provides families with the nurturing support and care that they need during this very magical and intense time of their lives.
Why use a Doula?
From the Doula Organization of North America (DONA):
Facing unprecedented pressures to reduce expenses, many hospitals are targeting the largest single budget item – labor costs…. An unintended consequence of nursing cutbacks may be an increased Cesarean rate.
The inability of a pared down nursing staff to provide continuous coverage to laboring mothers (has been) shown to increase the chance of a Cesarean…. Doulas clearly improve clinical and service quality; they provide an absolutely safe way to reduce Cesareans and other invasive birthing interventions.”
Coming to Term: Innovations in Safely Reducing Caesarean Rates. Medical Leadership Council, Washingtion D.C. 1996.
Right now in the United States, the Caesarean rate is about 30% of all births!
The Responsibilities of the Birth Doula
- Support the family by facilitating a nurturing and gentle birth experience. Carefully considering the mother’s birth wishes and facilitating this vision.
- Create a safe and supportive environment where the mother can labor and birth in peace, free of undue fear and anxiety.
- Ensure that the baby comes into the world with as little birth trauma as possible.
- Initiate infant and parent bonding and provide breastfeeding support.
- Teach the birth partner and family how to best support the mother during the birth.
- Empower the mother’s partner by facilitating the bonding of the couple.
- Care for the emotional needs of mother and family.
- Translate confusing hospital information to decrease anxiety.
- Advocate for families in the hospital.
- Make suggestions concerning labor positioning.
- Offer natural pain management through hydrotherapy, visualization, aromatherapy, sound and breath work.
- Give massage, acupressure, and nurturing comfort measures.
- Provide continuous reassurance, comfort, respect and encouragement based on individualized needs and preferences.
Postpartum Doula Support
- Creates a restful, nurturing, and loving environment.
- Offers breastfeeding support and education; screens for breast feeding complications.
- Prepares healthy well-balanced meals.
- Provides hands-on education on baby and mother care.
- Provides emotional and informational support to family members.
- Encourages parents to trust their abilities, instincts and talents.
- Helps parents gather skills and confidence.
- Cares for baby while parents sleep and shower.
- Offers suggestions on integrating new baby with siblings.
- Shops for groceries, does baby’s laundry and light house-keeping.
- Helps to organize the nursery.
- Screens for postpartum mood disorders.
Click on our Birth Doula’s names to view their Biographies:
Lyndsey Milton, CD(DONA), PCD(DONA), HCHD
Lyndsey first began working alongside pregnant women and new moms in 2002 as a prenatal and postpartum yoga instructor. She soon realized that it was her passion to positively affect women during this profound time of growth and transformation. To further her understanding of birth and the transition to motherhood, she trained as a birth and postpartum doula. Her aim is to prepare families for an easeful birth and a joyful postpartum experience.
In pregnancy and during birthing, she uses the tools of hypnosis–such as visualization and affirmations–as well as yoga to help you and your baby experience the benefits of deep, relaxed breathing; a comfortable body and a clear mind. The same techniques will continue to serve in parenting and partnership as your family expands and unfolds.
Lyndsey lives with her husband and two daughters in Los Angeles. She is always happy to chat with expectant parents about how a birth and/or postpartum doula can serve families during this sacred time.
Please contact her to inquire about doula services in the greater Los Angeles area including the San Fernando Valley, West Los Angeles and Santa Monica.
Certified Birth Doula, CD(DONA)
Certified Postpartum Doula, PCD(DONA)
Certified Hypnobabies® Hypno-Doula, (HCHD)
Certified Prenatal & Postpartum Yoga Instructor, (IYI)
Julie Mcinally C.D. (DONA)
Julie Mcinally was born in Scotland, and came to California in 1982. She is now a mother of three grown children and, as of September 2011, is the proud grandmother of a beautiful baby boy. Julie loves dancing, cooking all natural healthy meals, and nurturing women in their early postpartum days to become confident new mothers while teaching them how to care for their newborns . She says that “Being a mother has been the most soul expanding and powerful experience of a woman’s life.” Having children has transformed her perception of being a woman, and has taught her so much about love, compassion, and what great strength women have. Julie believes that it is a gift to be part of the sacredness of birth and parenthood and she cherishes the opportunity to guide and support mothers and fathers on their own scared journey to parenthood, and share in the joy of a new baby and family.
She brings years of experience to the services that she offers which include PostPartum Doula Support, Breast feeding Consultation, Preconception Counseling, Nutritional Counseling for Pregnancy and Postpartum, Preparation of Healthy Balanced Meals, Prenatal Yoga Instruction, Body Ecology Consultation, and Baby-Friendly Nontoxic Home Environment Consultation. Julie lives in the mountains of Topanga, CA and services the Los Angeles County.
Gabrielle Scott, CD(DONA)
Click on our Postpartum Doula’s names to view their Biographies:
Rachel Forbat, CD(DONA), EMT
Rachel received her first introduction to the world of birth in a global medicine class as a freshman in college. Overnight, her world changed. She couldn’t learn enough about birth, and it quickly became obvious that she had found her passion in life. Since then, she has dedicated herself to helping women smoothly transition through one of the most exciting times of their lives. Rachel has prior experience working as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in both Los Angeles and Orange Counties and has spent years working with pregnant and parenting teenage girls in Watts. Through these experiences, she discovered just how frequently women were not offered choices in birth. Rachel decided to direct her passions towards providing a means for women to make empowered decisions about their care, and became a birth doula. She believes that her role is to help her clients have the best birth possible, in the most meaningful way to them. Birth is not simply introducing a baby to the world, but also creating a family – and she will do what she can to involve a client’s partner and any other family members as wanted, at their own comfort levels. She wants to encourage the creation of memories, but never be the center of a story. Her goal is to empower her clients in everything they do. Rachel received her Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Studies from the University of Southern California in 2012. She is currently working full-time as a doula while studying midwifery through the National College of Midwifery. At this time, Rachel is able to serve women throughout Ventura and Los Angeles Counties. It is such a blessing to support women as they choose what is best for them and their families, and to witness families welcome their new baby into the world.
Jennifer Kelly, CPT, KRI Instructor, Postpartum Doula, Nutritionist
She started her journey towards health and alternative healing in 1998 when after becoming pregnant with her son. She chose to have a homebirth not knowing where it would lead. Thankfully, it has lead to a beautiful journey working with amazing people and sharing the information she has learned to facilitate healing and transformation. Jennifer was introduced to yoga during pregnancy by Gurmuk Khalsa at Goldenbridge Yoga. She became a student of prenatal, post natal, mommy and me, women’s yoga and regular Kundalini yoga. Then started informally studying health, nutrition, homeopathy and essential oils. It became obvious to Jennifer that this was her true path in life. This led her to a search for more formal training. Jennifer obtained a Personal Training Certification, it was great information, but it wasn’t enough. She felt like there was much more to this puzzle of health and wellness.
Jennifer went on to study nutrition and therapeutic grade essential oils and received a CARE certification in Raindrop and Vita flex Techniques with therapeutic grade essential oils. She was starting to see amazing results for people, but knew there was more to learn. In 2004 Jennifer completed Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training and in 2006 Completed Postpartum Doula Training. She felt that she was getting closer to the right combination of body, mind, & spirit tools to really make a difference for her clients. It wasn’t until she found and trained in FNRA, Functional Nutrition Reflex Analysis that she knew the journey to truth, health and joy was complete. Jennifer’s spiritual name as given by Yogi Bhajan, Master of Kundalini Yoga, is Lakhmi Chand Kaur which means princess who is blessed with wealth and moon energy. Moon being the feminine energy, She has always had a passion for supporting and healing women and children. Jennifer’s theory is, if you start in utero and teach children how to care for themselves at an early age we can avoid many of today’s health problems. This theory inspired Jennifer to become a postpartum doula, so she could support new families and help them create a non-toxic, spiritual, and bonding start to their new journey as a family.
Men don’t be discouraged, Jennifer loves working with you too. Men are often the missing link in creating a peaceful and harmonious life together as a family. It is important for our dad’s and dad’s-to-be to become knowledgeable about health as well. Jennifer is a Certified Personal Trainer and Kundalini Yoga Instructor trained in the Khalsa Way, a Certified Postpartum Doula and Nutritionist, and has been teaching, training, and working with private clients in the Los Angeles area for the last 8 years. The Khalsa Way emphasizes healthy birthing and child rearing using the ancient principals of Kundalini Yoga and combines well with her Postpartum Doula practice. She has studied FNRA and is extremely knowledgeable in nutrition as well as creating a health non-toxic environment for families. She has one birth child and has fostered 8 children over the past 10 years ages 13 weeks to 18.
Zoë Etkin, CPD (CAPPA)
Zoë is interested in and supportive of natural methods of birth control and conception, women’s health and menstrual care. She is an enthusiastic promoter of breastfeeding, having breastfed until the age of four, and is interested in becoming better educated in child and pre and postnatal nutrition. She is an avid home cook and loves creating healthy meals for Mamas. She specializes in vegan, vegetarian and macrobiotically inspired dishes. She is also a long time student of yoga and dance.
In her “other” life she is a poet and teacher of writing. She holds an MFA in Critical Studies and Creative Writing from California Institute of the Arts and a BA in Creative Writing from the College of Santa Fe. She hopes to incorporate poetry and journaling into her doula practice by encouraging new mamas to pen their birth narrative and journal through their experiences. This writing is not only cathartic, helping mamas to process their births, but can serve as a beautiful record to share one day with their children.
Zoë lives and serves families on the Westside of Los Angeles