Oftentimes, when expecting parents think about hiring a doula, they imagine one woman who will help them throughout pregnancy and beyond. While this is an amazing option that does wonders for hundreds of thousands of moms every year, some moms will also receive help in the form of a team!
When looking for a doula, parents will typically find two things: a standalone doula who does all her own work, from managing the website to in-home visits, or a doula service where one management team will help pair you with the services you need as well as provide social events and offer parenting classes to help you through your journey. One of the doula conglomerates in Chicago, Third Coast Birth, will connect women with three doulas!
Why use more than one? We talked to Shawna Mertens, Co-Founder of Third Coast Birth, and she explained that having a team provides a bigger support network. Each doula will take the time to get to know mom and think through her individual needs, just like a one-woman team would. By adding a couple extra minds to the mix, a woman can receive specialized care in all areas and gather advice from multiple points of view. For example, all doulas will know about pretty much anything your body can throw at you, but one doula might be specifically well versed in working through your prenatal exercise regimen while another might be great at finding your best sleeping techniques! By expanding your circle of helpers, you can get the non-judgmental support that doulas provide and walk through your pregnancy with the confidence and expertise of three doulas behind you.
Shawna’s biggest piece of advice for new moms? Be prepared ahead of time! She knows the importance of “identifying who you’ve got and what jobs they’d be good at so you’ll know what to ask people to do.” This of course can mean knowing that you’ve got your doulas behind you, but it extends to friends and family as well! Maybe your friend is a great cook but happens to be quite loud. If you identify these traits, you’ll know ahead of time to ask them to bring over lunch rather than dinner, neutralizing the risk of noise arousing the baby right before you’re about to go to bed! People are always willing to help, they just might not know how. If you can plan out who’s good for what jobs ahead of time, you can channel that love and support into real benefits and take more time to focus on yourself and on the baby!
Shawna Mertens is a Co-Founder of Third Coast Birth as well as the Directress of Prenatal Programs and the Outreach Manager. She became a doula about 4 years ago, after her second child was born. She helped to found Third Coast Birth with her business partner, Margarita Valbuena, where they offer parenting classes, social events, birth photography, and more.