As a newborn and baby photographer, I interact with a lot of women who are expecting babies, or who have just recently given birth. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I can support these women in more than just the realm of photography! I will be doing a series of blog posts on special services available to expecting mommas in the area. (If you have any recommendations of any other people or services I should feature, please get in touch with me!)
My first feature blog post is an interview with the lovely and talented Holly Yeager, head Doula and owner of Lancaster Doulas. During our interview, I learned a lot about what a doula does and why you might want to hire Holly and her team of doulas. It was obvious from talking to Holly that she is a very passionate and skilled doula. Her mission in life is to empower women to be all they were meant to be and do all they were meant to do!
The following are a few of the questions that we discussed as I learned more about Holly’s business.
Why hire a doula?
Everyone has a different reason for hiring a doula. Hiring a doula is not a necessity, but a luxury. Women have been having babies for thousands of years without a doula. However, a lot of women choose to hire a doula in order to make the process of giving birth feel less scary and overwhelming. We are there to make the journey easier and to help on the big day, so the mom can focus on what is important – giving birth to her baby. Having a doula present can alleviate the stress on birth partners to be the sole supporter during the whole process. We are “walking-talking” birth encyclopedias and we can answer questions about procedures, or listen to any concerns the women might have. We provide physical comfort measures as well like massage and hydrotherapy. We can offer suggestions on when to walk around, when to get in the shower or how to get into a more comfortable position.
Do women only hire a doula if they are planning a natural birth?
We’re all over the spectrum. We’ve had people hire us for a planned Cesarean section. There’s a lot that a doula can do to alleviate stress in what can possibly be a scary situation. Most hospitals will allow our doulas into the OR to support our clients. We can help to facilitate skin-to-skin time with baby, breast feeding in the OR, etc. There is a lot that we can do to support our clients regardless of the way their baby is arriving into this world.
What other services do you offer your clients?
In addition to supporting women throughout pregnancy, labor and delivery, we also offer services such as placenta encapsulation, lactation counseling and childbirth education. But I think one of the most important services we offer is our post-partum doula and infant care services! Many women don’t think of a doula offering care after the baby is born, but this is so important! It can be a very stressful time for a new mom, or a mom with other young children at home. Hiring a doula for post-partum and infant-care services is kind of like having your best friend come and stay with you for a few days after your baby is born! We can help our clients with all sorts of tasks such as bathing baby, diapering, swaddling, etc. We’ll even wash the dishes and do loads of laundry for our client so she can relax, heal and bond with her new baby. If there are older children in the home, we can help older siblings adjust to having a new baby in the home as well.
When is the best time to contact / hire a doula?
Some clients contact us before they even get pregnant and some contact us when they’re already in labor! One of the benefits of having a team of doulas is that there is always someone available. Most clients reach out to us when they are in their in their second trimester, but there is a lot we can do at all stages of pregnancy. For post-partum care, you can actually hire a doula any time in the first year of baby’s life! Maybe your baby is 6 weeks old and is having trouble sleeping – we can help! Or maybe you have an emergency illness and you are unable to care for your baby for a few days – we can help with that too! We’re like nannies and house keepers and birth specialists and therapists and best friends all rolled into one!
What sets your business apart from other businesses?
I believe experience and professionalism set us apart from other doula services in the area. I’ve been a doula for 8 years. Many new doulas often burn out from the stress of the job within a few years of starting their business. Because of our unique business model (see below), we have been able to sustain a successful business.
Another aspect that sets us apart is the priority we place on fostering a strong relationship with care-providers (midwives, OB’s, etc). We want to be a cohesive unit, working together towards the common goal of providing the best birth experience we can for our clients. When we enter a delivery room, we want the care providers to know that we are not there to fight against them, but to work with them in caring for our clients. If there is a wedge driven between the expecting mom and her OB, nurses, or midwife, it creates a negative atmosphere that creates unnecessary stress and tension. Our goal is to create an atmosphere where women are fully supported by everyone on their team, both care-providers and doulas alike.
Tell me a little about your business model. How is it unique?
We have a team approach to business. I have six doulas working under me and we always work in teams of two. When our clients hire us, they actually get two doulas at their disposal. They can email us or call us throughout their pregnancy to receive encouragement and support. They are guaranteed to have someone they know and trust during labor. Many other doulas outside our company work as individuals, and their clients are not always guaranteed to have the same doula that they have made a connection with. If there is a family emergency or the doula is at another birth, their clients may get a “backup” that they have never met before. Our clients at Lancaster Doulas do not ever have to worry about who will show up to support them during labor. They know it will always be one of the two doulas that they have been communicating with all along.
If you would like to learn more about the services of LancasterDoulas, or if you are interested in hiring a doula for your pregnancy and birth experience, you can visit their website at www.lancasterdoulas.com or you can contact them directly HERE. You can also visit Lancaster Doulas’ Facebook page HERE.
LVR Portraits is a fine-art photography studio in Lancaster, PA, specializing in custom newborn and baby photography.
If you are interested in finding out more information about LVR Portraits, start HERE. You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 717-344-9577.
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(PLEASE NOTE: PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS PAGE WERE NOT TAKEN BY LVR PORTRAITS)