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Before you plan your newborn session, and you’re pregnant trying to figure out your birth plan and goals, its nice to have someone to be completely there for you like a Massachusetts doula, assisting in all the things related to your pregnancy and delivery.
As a doula, my focus is on communication and education, helping clients work with their medical/birth team to feel prepared to make decisions. Birth can happen fast and your care providers see it a lot. It may be hard for them to know when you need them to slow down the conversation and explain things. In our prenatal meetings, we’ll talk about what you want, how to make that space in the conversation. We know how to ask questions to get the answers you need, and how to make you feel more comfortable if things don’t go according to plan. During birth, I’ll be there to support you and your partner(s) (if you have one with you), offering labor support, comfort measures/massage, and encouragement.
Somewhere in between working on her PhD (researching rights during childbirth) and her own two births, she wound up in the amazing world of birth work. With training from Birth Monopoly’s “Know your rights in childbirth,” and certification from Birthing Advocacy Doula Training’s full spectrum doula program, Amber supports clients with evidence-based health research. She is also finishing her childbirth educator training through Birthing Advocacy. Paired with the 40 hours of training she received from the Trauma Center at the Justice Research Institute in Boston, Amber brings trauma-informed pedagogy to childbirth education and beyond.
There’s a ton of medical research on how doulas decrease rates of unwanted interventions including cesareans, increase rates of nursing/chest-feeding, and decrease your chances of postpartum depression. What’s behind most of these numbers is the real story: birth is hard, and the more people in the room that support you, the better off you are. Doulas provide education, we help birthing people self-advocate, and we offer comfort measures like different labor positions, massage, acupressure. And we’ll definitely keep snacks on hand in case you get hungry.
For me, the best part is supporting families. I love helping clients be able to decide what they want and develop the confidence to communicate it to others. I also really like being in a place to help remind clients that their choices are valid (whatever type of birth experience they’re hoping for). So often people experience shame related to how they gave birth (whether they had an epidural or a c-section or a home birth), and I like to be in a spot push against that and say, “no, all births are valid, and you don’t need to be ashamed of your choices/preferences/experiences.”
I haven’t been to a home birth yet (aside from mine), but I’d love to work more in that community. I also do hospitals and, when possible, birth centers. I’m mostly in the Quabbin, Wachusett, and Worcester areas, but I’ll go throughout Worcester County.
As soon as a pregnant person decides they want a doula, they should start looking. Currently, my schedule is pretty flexible, but I would say at least a few months in advance. I only take a few birth clients a month, though, so spots can always fill up fast.
Completely by accident. For my dissertation, I interviewed 117 people who have given birth in Massachusetts. One thing I noticed in all of their stories was how much a doula helped many of them. Completely by coincidence, a friend had started a doula training business. I only wanted to take the childbirth ed class, but she offered me a discount. The minute I started the training, I was hooked.
Would it be bad to say quirky? I’ve had the c-section and I’ve had the home birth, so in general I’m not really one to push any kind of experience on someone, and I’m very clear about this. I’ve also been a professor for 14 years, and from all my public health research, I’m pretty strong about providing people with evidence-based research and helping them understand that in their own words. I’m also really pragmatic. I’ll support whatever your birth plan is, but we’re going to have a conversation about what happens if it doesn’t go the way you want. The most important question I ask, and one I think everyone should ask themselves is: “if it doesn’t go the way you want, how can we get you the information you need to feel good about having to make hard decisions under those circumstances?” I’m also pretty chill about most things, so if we work together, be prepared for me to send you silly gifs.
To Contact Amber:
Crossroads Support Service