We often like to think of our big little city as a village, filled with a cast of supportive characters no matter what stage of life you happen to be in. After all, we travel, work, play and live in such close proximity to each other, we’re practically all related anyway. But when it comes to giving birth, that village is often absent, despite our common journey and the clear benefits we could all gain from a little teamwork.
It doesn’t have to be that way. And at Carriage House Birth, it’s not. Samantha Huggins, Domino Kirke and Lindsey Bliss organize a collective of birth workers--from birth and postpartum doulas to herbalists to placenta encapsulationists--that provide support from the minute the pee stick turns blue to well after the baby is sleeping through the night.
Below, Carriage House’s founders clue us in to life as a NYC doula, and give us 6 tips for a smooth and satisfying birth experience, no matter what our birth day looks like.
Why is doula care such an important part of the birthing process, and especially in a place like NYC?
Lindsey: Doulas are essential because we help to normalize the birthing process by offering informational, emotional and physical support. Doulas are so important in New York City, especially because most midwifery practices and/or OB practices are extremely busy and unable to give their clients the individual attention and time that they deserve. We are a constant source of non-judgmental support during their entire childbearing journey.
How does having a doula on the big day enhance the experience?
Samantha: When a doula attends your birth, the family is able to focus on each other and most importantly, giving birth. The doula will clean the house or the hospital room, and offer suggestions, water and breaks. We will take care of all of the small stuff and then fade to black once you have your footing. We weave a fabric of normalcy and calm around you so that you can make honest and informed decisions for yourself and your family.
Tell us a little about Carriage House and your concept of recreating a village.
Samantha: We started Carriage House Birth with “the village view” because we believe in our hearts that it takes a community to raise our children, and to support each other as families and our doulas as birth workers. With this level of support, everyone is safe and confidence grows organically. This can only benefit everyone! Carriage House Birth offers complete pregnancy support for all versions of family. We are with you from the moment you hire us, which could be once pee on the stick or two weeks before your Estimated Due Date, until you take wings and want to fly on your own. We offer guidance on birthing options (hospital or home, practices, birthing centers, etc), and we branded several versions of our own Childbirth Educations series, covering first-time families of singletons, families of multiples, and childbirth education review for second-timers and beyond.
How does your team fit into this vision?
Samantha: Our doulas work with the security of support from Carriage House Birth, which means they are heavily backed by other Carriage House doulas. So if you have a long labor, or something should happen to your doula so that she cannot attend, her back-up will be there, fresh and full of new energy to bring to your birth. It’s a total win for everyone. We also offer tons of postpartum support and classes as well: doulas, breastfeeding, DIY postpartum offerings and a very solid system of referrals for anything that falls out of our scope.
What are some of the trends you’re seeing in the doula world right now, and especially in some of your NYC births?
Lindsey: The doula community and the childbearing community seem to both be gravitating towards a more holistic and natural approach to pregnancy and childbirth. There is a surge in our expecting clients that are seeking energy work and alternative modes of healing, to help foster the mind-body connection during the childbearing process. I think this is our peaceful backlash to an over medicalized maternity care system.
Since you started carriage house birth, what kind of changes have you seen? Are more women (and doctors) more open to doula care?
Samantha: We have seen a lot of change in the hospital and birth center realm for doulas. At Carriage House, we certainly have been working with specific practices more regularly. The care providers that actually know what a Carriage House Birth doula can do to make their jobs easier and their patients happier are referring their patients to us more and more. They know that we are not fighting a war on medicalized birth but are simply serving our clients. We go where our families go and we birth their way. No judgement from us. And in the homebirth world, doulas are widely used, probably always have been!
Having a birth doula is certainly one way to help the big day go more smoothly. Give us your other top tips to help moms prepare for a great birth day.
- Knowledge is power. Educate yourself and know your options.
- Choosing a compassionate care provider is the #1 most important thing that you can do for the birth experience you are hoping for.
- Embrace the beautiful chaos.
- Have a great support team. If you feel that support, you can give birth anywhere.
- LET GO and take each moment for what it is. Do not try to see the end but focus on the task at hand. Each pressure wave or contraction is all you need to contend with at a time.
- And if you are headed to the hospital or birth center, bring your own pillow!