Birth Doula Services
Hi, I’m Rebecca Overson, owner/director of Salt Lake Prenatal Massage. In addition to being a maternity massage therapist, I am also a trained birth doula and have four other massage therapist/doulas on staff, Marianne Olson LMT , Kristen Tesch LMT, Marin Mattingly LMT, and Julianne Smith LMT.
If you don’t know what a birth doula is, read on, and watch this short video.
(For information on Postpartum Doula services – help in your home AFTER you give birth - click here. )
Doula is a greek word for “servant” or handmaiden, and in this context, a birth doula is a professionally trained labor and birth support person.
A birth doula provides support to the laboring woman/couple in three ways: informational support, emotional support, and physical support.
(Oh and please note that in this article we refer to the birthing woman’s partner as the “dad/husband”, but we realize that some moms to be are also single, or in a same-sex relationship, or in an unmarried partnership. No problem – we are happy to support anyone.)
Birth Doulas do not perform medical tasks. In other words, they do not deliver babies (that’s what midwives and doctors do), nor do they perform clinical tasks such as monitoring baby’s heart rate or checking the cervix for progress during labor.
A birth doula is someone who can help you navigate the territory of labor and birth and help you have a satisfying and empowering birth experience.
If you are interested in exploring the possibility of our doula services for your birth, please fill out this request form and we’ll get right back to you!
Frequently asked questions about hiring a birth doula:
Why would I hire a doula? Isn’t my husband the support person?
Of course your husband is a support to you in labor. A doula does not replace your husband or undermine his important role and presence in your labor. A doula supports BOTH of you. Sometimes as women we forget that the husband is having a baby too; he is emotionally involved, invested, and concerned for the well-being of mom and baby. He needs support too.
What exactly does a doula do?
Simply put, doctors and nurses worry about the baby and the uterus; a doula takes care of the laboring woman’s heart and mind and is concerned for her emotional experience of birth. You could also think of a doula as an extra pair of TRAINED hands who knows what to do and say to help a woman through labor and birth.
Birth is a sacred experience. In a hospital, it can be a very medical, clinical experience. As a doula, we provide whatever support is needed throughout the entire course of labor, which usually starts at home, through birth itself, and usually stay until mom is complete with birth (placenta, etc.), stable, and baby is latched on well and nursing.
We help empower birthing women/couples to be educated about their options. We provide information needed to make clear choices and to be well supported during the process.
Watch this short video addressing what training and qualifications doulas have.
Aren’t the nurses and/or doctors supposed to provide support?
Ah, my favorite question. Many first-time parents have the idea that they are going to waltz into the hospital upon a woman’s water breaking and just “have a baby”. I liken this to walking into an airport and just hopping on a plane and expecting to arrive 4 hours later in New York City. It just doesn’t work like that.
I have worked with AMAZING doctors and nurses, and I have also been HORRIFIED by a few. Please understand that hospitals are bound by rules and regulations that ultimately serve THEIR interests (think: massive liability malpractice insurance) – they can not and do not always do what the mother/couple “wants”.
Consider that hospitals are set up to maximize convenience for the staff, not comfort for the mom. I have seen midwives rush through procedures simply because they have another mom ready to push in the next room. I have seen some doctors take over with little input from the patient. I have heard some nurses say the stupidest, most inappropriate, fear-inducing comments to women in labor in an effort to get the woman to comply with their wishes. I have seen couples inadvertently hijack their own birth plan by making unwise choices early in labor. (I’ve also worked with really incredible, caring, amazing, respectful doctors, nurses, and midwives! The point is… sometimes you just never know who’s going to show up at your birth! When you hire a doula, she is the ONE person you can count on to be there for you!)
Sometimes even the best of plans take an unforseen detour. It breaks my heart when I hear that a birth was traumatic or disappointing for a woman or couple. We try to spare our clients from any negative experiences and make sure that they choices they have to make are THEIR choices. As a doula, we advocate for the woman and for the couple. We help women stay out of the way of unnecessary medical interventions and help them to feel comfortable with chosen or necessary ones.
We also sometimes help interpret into plain english what medical staff says in medical terminology.
We typically ask our doula clients to keep us updated after each of their prenatal care appointments with their doctor or midwife. Watch this video explaining how much contact we typically have with my clients. (Bear in mind, if you are also seeing us for massage during your pregnancy, we will have even MORE contact!)
We ask our doula clients to call us as soon as they are showing signs that they MIGHT be in labor, or if they know for certain they are in labor. We will go to the laboring couple’s home as soon as they are ready for support.
We will help the mom labor in effective positions to optimize contractions and help her be as comfortable as possible. We help her cope with the intense sensations of labor by providing massage, acupressure, essential oils and other means of comfort. We make sure she is staying hydrated by encouraging sips of water between contractions. We help her stay connected with and relaxed in her body as it labors. We help her be calm and courageous and confident in her body’s ability to give birth. We help the couple decide when it is time to go to the hospital (if that’s part of the plan… or birth center… or when it’s time to call the midwife to come over for a home birth.)
Most first-time parents don’t realize that if they are birthing in a hospital staff, there is no dedicated support person to help you. Nurses change shifts, check on other patients, and so forth. Labor can be looooong and slooooow and boring or crazy and stressful. Some dads feel like they just need to go take a nap, but they feel guilty at the thought of leaving their partner in labor. A doula can stay and provide support if dad wants or needs a break.
Some things we have done on the job as birth doula:
- Coached moms in the pushing phase
- Ran to get food for the couple, or coffee for dad, batteries for the camera, etc.
- Taken pictures or video
- Supported one of mom’s legs during pushing
- Kept mom focused during transition (the most intense part of labor)
- Reminded parents of their birth preferences when medical staff goes on “auto pilot” and forgets the express wishes of the couple
- Provided massage therapy for feet, back, hips, neck, shoulders on an as-needed basis during labor
- Provide calming relaxing music during labor, essential oils, honey sticks, coconut water, snacks and such
- Leave as needed if the couple wants alone time
- Take notes throughout the whole birth and provide a written “report” for the couple
- Helped with proper breastfeeding techniques
- Taught parents how to swaddle their baby the way my midwife taught me
- Asked chatty, inconsiderate medical staff to please be quiet during contractions
- Pay attention the mood and environment in the room – dim the lights, adjust the thermostat, make sure mom is positioned comfortably in bed or wherever she is laboring
- Helped take care of older siblings during labor and birth
- Help moms find effective positions in which to labor, so that their pelvis has as much space as possible to move baby down
- Crouched in the back seat of a car with a mom ready to push, helping her slow her body down until we got to the hospital
- Grabbed and held barf buckets, gotten and applied cold compresses, provide emotional support during the most intense parts of birth and helped her stay grounded, helped dads participate when they don’t know what to do, provided support and reassurance to parents during emergency procedures.
…As doulas, we’ve pretty much done it all, and we love it. It’s joyful, it’s intense, it’s beautiful. It’s invigorating and breathtaking and always a deep honor to support a woman in birth.
If you are interested in discussing the possibility of doula services for your birth, please fill out this request form and we’ll schedule an initial 30 minute conversation to see if our services might be a good fit for you.
Regardless, we’d love to provide any information, referrals, and resources that would be helpful for you to have a powerful birth experience!
“It took me awhile to find a doula. Nobody felt exactly right for me. I had a unique situation and I really needed a doula that could be there for me not only as emotional and physical support, but as my birth partner. So, what I was asking of the doula I hired, seemed to me, to be quite a bit. The circumstances that led me to Rebecca were serendipitous to say the least. When my birthing teacher mentioned her name, for some reason, I knew that Rebecca was supposed to be my doula. At the time, I didn’t exactly understand why. But, months later during my 52.5 hours of labor, I knew exactly why Rebecca was perfect for me.
It was a long, painful, challenging, emotional, and incredible labor and delivery. During the first 14 hours, Rebecca was there for me through texts and phone calls, keeping a vigilant eye on my progress and continually asking for updates and for what I needed. She joined me in person at 14 hours into my labor and stayed with me until hour 53. She worked tirelessly for over 36 hours. 36 HOURS! And for most of the 36 hours, Rebecca was applying counterpressure to my back, because my labor pains were so bad there. All I can say, is that woman is strong. So strong. I would constantly say, “push harder Rebecca” and she would. I know she gave it all she had. And when I told her days after my baby was born, I couldn’t have done it without her, I meant it. I really could not have. I remember there was one point where she needed to run out and grab something from her car and I wouldn’t let her go. I needed her there every second. Just knowing she was there created a sense of safety for me. I knew if she was there supporting me, applying pressure to my back, and giving me words of encouragement and coaching, I could make it through the next contraction. She was always positive, always alert, always strong for me. I will be forever grateful that Rebecca was there for that incredible experience. She is a truly compassionate, kind, intelligent, and strong woman. To me, Rebecca is the perfect doula.”
~S.M.P., first-time Mom. Kaysville, Utah
I was lucky enough to have both Marianne and Rebecca as my doulas for the birth of my baby boy. I was induced and a bit nervous about going natural with the Pitocin, but the second my doulas arrived I instantly felt at peace and ready for however the birth would happen.
It was my first time meeting Marianne, but with her friendly and kind personality I instantly felt comfortable around her. There’s a quote that says your doula should make you feel like a birthing goddess and that is definitely true of these two ladies! Marianne’s genuine compliments and encouragement helped me to feel more sure of myself and to trust my body more fully.
During early labor, Marianne was such a soothing presence. She massaged my feet as the nurse put the IV in – a much needed distraction. She also massaged pressure points to help with the contractions. Marianne was an absolute lifesaver as I progressed into active labor. Her rhythmic squeezing of my shoulders and massaging up and down my arms helped to ease the intensity of the strong contractions. She is a fantastic doula and I am so happy that she was at my birth.
mom of three
“Marianne, I saw your client the day after her birth and she recounted your amazing efforts to help her–and I truly believe she couldn’t have a vaginal birth without your wisdom, care, and patience. I’m so glad to have had the chance to see you work and get a glowing recommendation for future doula referrals! Thanks and I hope to work with you again soon.” ~TL, Certified Nurse Midwife, U of U Hospital
“Rebecca, I just wanted to write you and let you know that we are SO grateful for your help yesterday with the birth of our son. We could not have done that without you… in no way, shape, or form! Henry’s doing well now and he and mama are resting. We are so grateful to you for your skill and knowledge.”
R.V., first-time dad, Salt Lake City Utah