The Embodied and Well Mom Show – Virtual Doulas: What They Do and How They Can Help

Why this podcast?
In short, because they have an episode on virtual doulas and as I have recently launched my own Virtual Doula services, I was curious to hear a discussion featuring this topic.

The Embodied and Well Mom Show used to be known as The Nurtured Mama Podcast and their website is www.intuitiveeatingmoms.com so the various names could be a little confusing.

The website looks great however and the podcast itself is all about –

“Changing the conversation about food, feeding, body trust and living well while mommin’ up”

Sounds interesting to me!

Why this episode?
Over the past few days, I have been finalising my Prenatal / Virtual Doula services and am feeling really excited about this new step.

I have to admit that when I first heard about Virtual Doulas I didn’t really get it.

I mean, don’t most people hire a doula specifically because they want that experienced person there supporting them at birth time?

However, the more families I have worked with the more I realise how incredibly important all of the support, conversations and preparation that happens prenatally is.

Approaching your birth in a calm, confident and knowledgeable way is essential.

That way, no matter what kind of twists and turns your birth may take, you can continue to play an active role and have the final say in any decisions that may need to be made.

Of course, ideally, I’d love everyone to have a doula for their pregnancy, birth and postpartum but realistically, not everyone wants or has the financial resources for that.

The idea that people who might not have the resources for a full birth doula package can still benefit hugely from doula support is something that I find so incredibly exciting!

Finding a podcast episode about virtual doulas seemed like fate as well as a great way to open up the conversation about this relatively new aspect of doula-ing!

The episode
The Embodied and Well Mom Show is hosted by Lindsay Stenovec, a Nutrition Therapist and Body Image Coach.

For this episode, Lindsay is joined by Jessica Zablan, who is, amongst other things, a Doula, Maternity Consultant and owner of The Birth & Baby Company.

 Jessica describes how she became a doula and goes into some detail about her work as a Postpartum Doula before getting to the part I was waiting for, yes, her Virtual Doula services!

Jessica explains that with small children and a busy life she simply is not in a space where she can be on call for births.

She adds that many of her clients were not actually looking for a doula to be present at their birth. What they valued in working with a doula was the support, conversations and preparation that happened prenatally.

During the birth, Jessica’s clients appreciated being able to reach out to her over the phone but felt like all the work they had done together prenatally had prepared them well enough to handle the birth without her physical presence.

What do virtual doula services look like?
Jessica holds her two prenatal sessions in-person.
She covers birth preferences, interventions, various scenarios that might occur, provides tools for the clients so that they feel comfortable asking questions before making any decisions and comfort measures.

Other doulas may hold these sessions virtually or, as I do, let each client decide what works best for them.

Most doulas will then be available virtually for, amongst other things:

– Emotional support
– To direct you to solid, evidenced-based resources so that you can make informed choices around your birth preferences
– To encourage you to ask questions of and hold open conversations with your care provider
– To simply be there for you, a constant source of warm, non-judgemental support.

I love that Jessica comments that it is so important to have someone to turn to when you are feeling overwhelmed who is not your partner, family or medical provider.

Someone who won’t try to push you towards one decision or another but will simply listen to you, reassure and support you.

During labour and birth, many Virtual Doulas will be available by phone or SMS to offer emotional support, remind you of positions and comfort measures and encourage you to ask questions before making any (non-emergency) decisions.

I also include a meeting, either virtually or in-person, postnatally as well as support via email and SMS for the first three weeks after birth.

Aren’t doulas only for people who want intervention-free births?
NO!!!!

Doulas are there to support YOU and YOUR choices, from medication-free water births to hospital births with an epidural and planned Cesareans.

As a doula, do I prefer if your choices have been well researched and thought through? Sure!

Will I push you to do that research if you absolutely don’t want to? No!

Why?

Because the whole point is that you feel empowered to make the decisions and choices surrounding YOUR pregnancy and birth.

I love that Jessica underlines that, even without your doula present in the room with you, she can still remind you of all the things that are so easy to forget once you are in the midst of labour –

–  Positions to try
– Asking for intermittent monitoring
– Freedom to move around
– To eat and drink and pee
– To breathe
– To utilise the BRAIN tool
– To dim the lights
– To ask for time alone with your partner to discuss options.

The list of ways that a doula can support you throughout pregnancy and birth is, quite honestly, endless.


To wrap up
Jessica and Lindsay go on to discuss other aspects of Jessica’s career, including her work as a Maternity Consultant, but I’m going to end here.

I hope that this post has been both useful and thought-provoking.

If you or someone you know would benefit from doula support please explore my Prenatal / Virtual Doula services and get in touch.

There is also a mini package of three, one hour long virtual conversations as well as hourly rates so I hope I have included something to suit everyone.

If you have worked with a Virtual Doula I’d love to hear your experience.

Until next time!

Emily Wills is a doula based in Stockholm. She believes that birth can be a beautiful and empowering experience and started this blog as a way of sharing some really great podcasts. She is also a mother of three and an enthusiastic runner.
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