Expectant mothers make many decisions during their pregnancy – what to name their baby, if they should find out the sex, if they want a natural birth, to name a few.
But what about hiring a doula?
Doulas are trained individuals that offer everything from educational classes and labor support to postpartum care, and there is a team right here in Central New York.
Family Times recently talked Christine Herrera, one of the founders of CNY Doula Connection, about the importance of a doula, their role before, during and after childbirth, and the inspiration behind her business.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
1. What is a doula? What are the benefits of having one?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves.” She is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother, before, during and just after the birth of their baby.
Birth doulas are trained to understand the normal process of labor and birth. This can help ease any anxiety or worries that may be present in either the birthing person, partner, or both. A birth doula can give you individualized care based on your circumstances and preferences, from offering a soothing touch, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to assisting with movement and positioning, fetching beverages or snacks, or giving your partner much needed rest.
According to Continuous support for women during childbirth, “Overall, people who received continuous support were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, and Cesareans. In addition, their labors were shorter by about 40 minutes and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar scores at birth. There is a smaller amount of evidence that doula support in labor can lower postpartum depression in mothers. There is no evidence for negative consequences to continuous labor support.”
2. How do you choose a doula?
When looking for a birth or postpartum doula we select the best person to support you. We do this by taking into account the talent, experience, and knowledge you are looking for, along with matching you with someone we feel will compliment your personality. We also invite you to explore our team profile and select one or two doulas to interview based on reading about their professional and personal backgrounds.
3. What was the inspiration behind CNY Doula Connection?
In 2008, CNY Doula Connection was founded by three local doulas, Christine Herrera, Rosmyn Squitieri, and Elizabeth Baer, who felt there was a need in our immediate area to spread the word on doulas and make doula support more accessible. CNY Doula Connection was created to pull together independent doulas throughout the greater Central New York area and work collaboratively. By doing this, we are able to reach more families by offering a diverse set of skills.
We are proud to serve Central New York families with our doula team! Unlike many agencies, CNY Doula Connection offers outstanding, individualized support as well as building community connections through our monthly meetings. Work with us, and you’ll work with professional doulas – talented and committed to exceeding client expectations.
4. What is your goal or mission?
We truly believe in the philosophy of non-judgmental physical, educational, and emotional support to parents and families through a warm and respectful approach.
5. What services do you offer?
We are a one-stop shop when it comes to supporting you through your pregnancy and beyond. We offer a wide range of services, including a variety of educational classes. From your traditional childbirth education classes to classes geared to helping you learn new parenting skills, and even infant CPR, you are sure to find a class that fits your exact needs and schedule. Our prenatal yoga instructor will teach you techniques that will help prepare you for childbirth, including breathing exercises and beneficial poses to ease your labor.
The CNY Doula Connection birth doulas are your reassuring presence who will listen to your birth wishes and support you in your chosen path. Your doula will ease any worry, anxious feelings, or doubts that you may have and replace it with strength and self-confidence. Your doula will help you navigate and cope with the intensity of labor, from beginning to the birth of your precious baby.
Once your baby has arrived, you also have an array of postpartum options. Our team offers placenta encapsulation, which is the process of collecting your placenta after delivery and turning it into capsule form that you take similar to a daily vitamin. Benefits may include lessening postpartum mood disorders, increasing your breastmilk supply, shrinking your uterus back down to size, among many other potential benefits.
We also offer in-home postpartum care. The transition of bringing your new baby home can be overwhelming, and our postpartum doulas are ready to ensure that you are rested and relaxed so you can ensure your own needs are being met to confidently care for your baby. Our team offers both daytime and overnight support, and assists families with everything from how to soothe your new baby to folding a load of laundry while you nap.
Belly binding is another service that we offer. Belly binding is inspired by the ancient Malaysian tradition of binding your torso during your postpartum period. Doing so assists with your body returning to its pre-pregnancy state, supports your loosened ligaments, and improves your posture.
If you are having trouble getting your baby to sleep well or are feeling like you could use some tips and tricks to improve settling your baby, our newborn sleep educator is a great resource. Not only will she help you understand what normal infant sleep patterns look like, she will help your entire family get more sleep.
Our team also offers breastfeeding support for families who may simply want an educational class before the baby arrives, as well as in-home lactation guidance. Although breastfeeding is natural, there can be a learning curve for both the baby and the nursing parent, and we want to help you achieve your breastfeeding goals.
And the icing on the cake (or perhaps I should say lactation cookies that our chef makes), is the amazing meal preparation service that we offer. The furthest thing from your mind after having a baby is what to make for dinner. Our postpartum chef comes to your home and cooks a week’s worth of delicious meals while you snuggle your baby. This service includes grocery shopping, cooking, and cleanup, while respecting any dietary restrictions and/or preferences.
6. Is there anything else you would like Family Times readers to know about CNY Doula Connection (and doulas in general)?
The transition to becoming parents or adding to your family is such a precious time and we want your family to be able to enjoy this experience. We are committed to providing inclusive care by creating a safe space and building your confidence. We are always beside you.
For more information about CNY Doula Connection, visit cnydoulaconnection.com.