Doula Services for Birth + Postpartum
©Lisa Gendron | Agroterra Birth
Doulas are professionals trained to care for families during pregnancy, birth and the early months of a baby’s life. They offer physical, emotional, and informational support to help your family work toward a healthy and empowered experience of the childbearing year. Once a month we host “Tea With the Team,” where you can join the Open Circle Doulas for a sip of tea, snacks and a chance to meet. This is an opportunity for families interested in working with us to ask questions and spend some time exploring whether we are a good fit. There is no cost to attending these informational sessions.
OPEN CIRCLE DOULA PROGRAM
Open Circle is now offering a Group Doula Program which allows us to provide increased birth and postpartum support to expecting and new families.
During pregnancy, attend unlimited group meetings (minimum of two required). These meetings offer time to build community, learn about the birth process and life with a baby, and get to know your doula team. During labor receive ongoing support as you birth your baby and begin bonding and recovery. After the baby is born, receive the nourishment of three weekly in-home prenatal visits. Finally, reconnect to your community in a group gathering (after baby is 4 weeks old). Extended postpartum care is offered on an hourly or package-fee basis by some members of our team.
To learn about our group program in more detail, please visit the expanding boxes below and our doula bios. To learn more about doulas outside of our organization, visit the professional associations, Doulas of Rhode Island, or the Umoja Nia Collective for Doulas of Color.
Birth Doula Package Details
- Up to 2 monthly group meetings at Open Circle throughout pregnancy (families may attend as many as they like, with a minimum of 2). Group meetings provide time for education, questions, getting to know the doulas, and peer-support.
- One private prenatal meeting between week 34 and 38
- Unlimited daytime phone and email support
- 24-hour on-call support from weeks 38-42
- Continuous labor + birth support
- Three in-home (or hospital) postpartum visits
- One group postpartum meeting at Open Circle
- Community Gatherings and Workshops with Other Doula Families
Extended Postpartum Care Details
Postpartum Doula Care is structured on an hourly or overnight basis (9-10 hours), with a minimum number of 4 hours per visit, and no more than 24 consecutive hours*.
*unless special arrangements have been made with a team of doulas
TEA WITH THE TEAM
WHY USE A DOULA
- Increased sense of satisfaction with birth experience*
- Increased breastfeeding success*
- 28% fewer cesarean sections*
- 34% fewer negative birth experience*
- 9% drop in use of pain medication*
- 31% less use of Pitocin*
- 40 minute shorter labors*
- Physically and Emotionally Healthier transition into Parenthood/Postpartum
- Improved Bonding and Parenting Skills
*from Childbirth Connection, National Partnership for Women + Families and Choices in Childbirth 2016 brief on insurance coverage of Doula Care.
WHAT IS A BIRTH DOULA?
Birth doulas provide your family with physical and emotional support during pregnancy and birth, help you understand your choices, and help you learn how to advocate for yourself/selves and your baby.
Open Circle doulas support families in all types of births: medicated/epidural, un-medicated, cesarean and adoptive. We also support all types of families: heterosexual and same sex couples, teen mothers and single mothers by circumstance or choice, adoptive parents, families of color from within and without the US, and families of all traditions. Our doulas have different cultural backgrounds, professional expertise and specialties.
Birth doulas respect your family’s individual beliefs and needs. They work to understand and support your family’s particular vision of an empowered and healthy birth. This including helping you find information, practitioners and birth locations that are a good fit for your family.
Birth doulas provide referrals to other practitioners and specialists in the community to support any additional needs of your family during pregnancy, birth and the newborn stage.
WHAT IS A POSTPARTUM DOULA?
Postpartum doulas work in your home to help your family adjust and thrive after your baby is born. They provide education to help families develop strategies and rhythms that support whole family health and mental-emotional wellbeing. Doulas may work daytime or nighttime hours, always with the goal of helping you develop skills and confidence in your ability to parent and care for your baby. A doula is different from a baby nanny or babysitter (which can also be helpful during the postpartum time): a nanny or babysitter’s focus may be entirely on infant care to allow the parents to focus on other things (sleep, work, etc.). The doula’s focus is on providing the resources and education to help parents feel confident in their abilities to care for their babies, themselves and their family as a whole — gradually supporting a family’s independence from her help. The types of support offered depend on your family’s specific needs, and may include any of the areas listed below.
- Infant Soothing, Feeding & Sleep Support
- Organizational Support for a Newborn Household
- Physical & Nutritional Support for New Parents
- Emotional, Psychological & Social Support for All Family Members
- Referrals to Community Professionals + Groups
- Light household duties
How Our Group Doula Program Works
Our Roles a Doulas
We draw on our training, knowledge and experience to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to birthing people, partners and their families. We do not offer medical advice or perform clinical tasks. Our scope of practice includes but is not limited to: emotional support, physical comfort techniques including massage, counter pressure, position + movement support; use of water and temperature therapies; breath support, guided meditation and imagery; providing nourishment and hydration for mom and the birth team; taking pictures or video; providing education to support informed decision making; fostering positive and effective relationships with your medical providers; and provide prenatal and postpartum referrals to other professionals as needed.
We are independent and self-employed. We are hired by and work only for you. We are not associated with a medical practice or hospital. As independent practitioners, we strive to maintain and foster positive and respectful relationships with entire birth team, and have spent many years building collaborative relationships with medical providers and hospital staff.
Choosing Your Doula/s
How Group Doula Support Works in Pregnancy
Through group and private meetings and remote support, you will have a chance come to know all your doulas. Similarly, as the team gets to know you, we are able to work collaboratively to support you more fully. All communications will be noted in your family file, so that each doula is kept up to date and fully informed.
Group Prenatal Meetings and In-Person Support
We offer two group prenatal meetings each month where families gather to learn more about birth and parenting, form community, and get to know us. You are invited to attend as many of our monthly meetings as you like, but are expected to attend a minimum of two. Dates, topic areas and doulas attending the monthly meetings are listed on our website on the Doula Services page.
Between weeks 36 and 38, each family has a private prenatal meeting (either before or after a group meeting). This offers an opportunity to discuss your birth vision, any concerns you may have, and any matters that are better suited to a private, more intimate time with your doulas. This meeting can be scheduled on the Doula Services page.
How Group Doula Support Works During Your Birth
When we transition from one doula to the next we are careful to be sensitive to what is happening in your birthing environment and to the trust that has been built in the space. Most commonly, when transitioning, both doulas will be with you for an hour or two, working together to support your family, until a secure and safe connection with the incoming doula has been established by all members of the birthing team – both you and your partner, any other family members and/or support people, and your medical team. We do not transition doulas in moments of high intensity during birth, but, if appropriate, may have more than one of us there to support you.
How Group Doula Support Works After the Baby is Born
Email, Text and Phone Support
When Labor Begins
It is up to you to decide at what point in your labor you want us to come and be with you continuously. Once you make that choice, one of us will be there within 90 minutes, and from then on, as long as it is your wish, one of us will always be with you until after you birth. If there are times during your labor where privacy feels important, we simply step out and stay close until our support is needed again. If labor stops for an extended period, we may leave until you are ready for us to be of support again. We generally stay with you after the birth until you are settled in your postpartum room and until we have been able to provide support for the baby’s first feeding (usually about 1 to 2 hours).
If, due to extraordinary circumstances we are unable to be with you, we will find a back-up doula who will support you. You will not be left alone unless you request this. We reserve the right to call our back-up doula if we become ill, or if we discover that we cannot properly support you. This is in your best interest and protects your birth experience. This is the rare exception and has not happened thus far in our practice.
- Our role as your doula is to provide continuous emotional support and physical comfort measures.
- We can offer direct help as well as guide you and your partner with comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation techniques, movement, effective labor positions, and physical support to relieve pain. We strive to support birth partners’ participation at whatever level you as a family desire.
- We take seriously our job of helping you practice informed decision-making. We will support you to have the confidence and skill to communicate questions or concerns with your practitioner or nurses, and to exercise your right of informed choice, consent, and refusal.
After the Birth
One of our doulas will visit your home once each week in the first three weeks after the baby’s birth. During these visits we offer support with postpartum questions, newborn care and family sleep strategies. These visits are also a time to talk about your birth experience, discuss how your family is doing and whether you would like any help finding mental or physical health resources in the community. We will also inquire about feedback on our doula support, and, of course, spend ample time admiring your beautiful baby!
After the baby is 4 weeks old, you are welcome to attend a group postpartum visit when it feels right for you and your baby. We will contact you about scheduling these visits.
As your doulas, we are not responsible for your birth process or the choices made by you or your practitioner. We commit to being responsible to offer you non-judgmental and compassionate support throughout our work together. We commit to respecting your choices and knowing that you are doing your very best for your family. We commit to doing our very best to help you stay as present and connected to yourself and your birth support as possible while you birth your baby and transition in the early postpartum months.
It is important to know that our births often call us into deep personal and relational journeys that can be as challenging as they are growth-inducing. Most families, regardless of how they feel about the birth experience soon after it’s over, continue to process and gain insight on their births over days, months and years as they integrate the experience within personal and family identities and belief systems. We have profound respect for both the challenge and opportunity inherent in birth, and the capacity of each family member to find their way.
Understanding What We DO NOT Do
We do not:
- Perform clinical tasks (i.e. taking blood pressure, fetal heart checks, vaginal exams, etc).
- Make decisions for you. We will help you get the information necessary to make an informed decision, but we will not push you toward any one decision or another. We will also remind you if there is a departure from your birth preferences during your birth, so that you can provide consent or refusal or request more information from your medical team.
- We do not, except in extreme circumstances, speak to the staff on your behalf. We will discuss your concerns with you and suggest options, but you or your partner/birth support (if applicable) are the best people to speak directly to the clinical staff.
- We do not prescribe, diagnose or treat any medical problems that may arise and will not be liable for interpreting diagnostic procedures. This is the role of your clinical provider.
Preview of Our Group Doula Program Meetings
COMFORT IN PREGNANCY + LOCAL RESOURCES
THE LABOR JOURNEY: UNDERSTANDING THE LANDSCAPE OF BIRTH
SELF-ADVOCACY + MODELS OF MATERNITY CARE
COMMON INTERVENTIONS IN BIRTH: INDUCTIONS, AUGMENTATION + CESAREAN SECTIONS
COPING IN LABOR: TOOLS FOR SUPPORTING LOW-INTERVENTION BIRTH + EMPOWERED FAMILY
POSTPARTUM PLANNING FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
LIFE TRANSITIONS: THE BIRTH OF A FAMILY
Open Circle Doulas
Birth and Postpartum Doula
Lisa Gendron has been a doula since 2007 and has worked extensively with families in pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum. She is a certified Birth Doula (Childbirth International) and Birthing From Within ® Mentor. In her years of work with families she has developed a whole-hearted understanding of the complex process that accompanies the transformations of pregnancy, birth, and new parenthood. She works in a holistic process, focused on building individualized support for every member of the expectant family. In this practice she seeks to center and uphold the value systems that define each family culture, with mindfulness and compassion. Lisa is the mother of three children, an artist, passionate community advocate and lover of all things green. She is currently a midwifery student with the National College of Midwifery.
Felicia trained as a birth doula with Birth Arts International, and is the incoming co-president of Doulas of Rhode Island, RI’s professional doula association. Felicia had her first child at seventeen, doing her best to navigate her pregnancy and birth, but often felt overwhelmed and unsupported. This experience, and the powerfully positive birth of her second child with the support of a doula, set her on a path to supporting birthing families. Felicia is committed to the spiritual and sacred nature of pregnancy and birth, and to supporting a birthing woman/person’s sense of her own inner power. She believes that evert birthing person deserves to determine their own birth preferences and approach, and offers nonjudgemental, respectful support.
Isabel is a DONA certified birth doula, a Certified Lactation Counselor and an artist living on a small farm in rural Rhode Island. Isabel approaches birth support with a goal to keep calm energy and strength in the room. She practices a supportive, attentive, and nonjudgemental approach, focusing on the values and preferences of the birthing person. She has worked in childcare, education, and the arts. Isabel values supporting all families and has an LGBTQ+ inclusive practice. She believes doulas can be advocates for better access to care, and that our support continues beyond the birth room and into the political landscape.
Sianna Plavin (pronouns she/ her) is a DONA trained doula and midwifery student based in Providence, RI. She provides birthing people and families with thoughtful and compassionate doula care, honoring and holding space for each person, on their terms. Currently in her 4th semester of midwifery school, she brings her deepening clinical knowledge to her doula work, offering support rooted in the physiology and psychology of pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. Sianna is committed to expanding doula access with income-based fees, creative approaches to care, and informed advocacy. Sianna is also a musician and farmer with a background in international peace studies and community health.
Birth and Postpartum Doula
Gina Rodriguez-Drix is a birth and postpartum doula based in Providence’s Washington Park neighborhood. Trained by ToLabor (2010) and the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (2014) Gina has supported families in home and hospital births for the last eight years. Gina is the co-founder of the Rhode Island Doula Collective, RI’s first no-fee, bilingual social justice doula organization that primarily served pregnant and parenting teens through a partnership with the Nowel Academy (2014-16). Gina is also an artist, mother, and organizer rooted in values of love, solidarity, and reproductive justice. As such, Gina views her doula work as a practice of building sisterhood and by extension, a healthy resilient community. Gina supports families to make empowered and informed decisions during their pregnancies and birth through a practice of deep listening, respect, and intention.
Birth and Postartum Doula, Certified Lactation Counselor
Kaeli trained as a Birth Doula with ToLabor (2009) and as a Birth and Postpartum Doula with The International Center of Traditional Childbearing (2016). She is a Certified Lactation Counselor (2016), pregnancy and postnatal yoga teacher (2005), childbirth educated (2007), and massage therapist (2001) specializing in pregnancy and mother massage. Kaeli recognizes pregnancy, birth, and the first few years of a child’s life as profoundly formative for each individual family member, and for the family as a whole — a rite of passage filled with potential for deep growth and real change. She believes that each family’s health can be supported through unwavering respect and care as it moves through this major life transformation. Kaeli is committed to supporting access to skilled, culturally competent, and compassionate care for all families in our community, and to acknowledging and addressing the structural systems that lead to injustice and inexcusable health disparities in our state and country.