How to Find a Doula

You’ve already decided that hiring a doula to attend your birth is the right decision for you and your partner. You already know all the amazing things that doulas can do for you during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum after reading my previous article  and you’re blown away by the research supporting the use of doulas. There are many ways to find a doula….here are a few ways to get started!

Word of mouth

Consult with your friends and family in the area. Did they have a good experience with a doula? Ask your chiropractor, massage therapist, yoga teacher, childbirth educator, physical therapist, etc. Asking people whose opinion you value and trust may help narrow the field to a handful of doulas that you may like to interview and get to know on a more personal level.

Doula Groups

Doula associations, agencies, and collectives are groups of doulas in a community. These groups meet on a regular basis for continuing education, support, and networking. These doula groups often have a website with their members listed with links to their profiles or personal websites.To learn more about the different ways doulas work, check out this concise article on the topic. Here in central Iowa, the Central Iowa Doula Association, Iowa Doula Agency, and Mid-Iowa Doulas are some great options!

Websites and Doula Match pages

Most doulas and doula groups have websites, social media pages, and/or a Doula Match profile. By viewing their online content, you should get a feel for a particular doula and the services they offer. Some doulas offer services at additional cost including placenta encapsulation, photography, childbirth education classes, breastfeeding and/or postpartum support, and fitness classes. Doula fees range in price, often by several hundred dollars based on their experience and services. Look for testimonials from past clients, or ask for references. If having a doula who is certified through a professional organization is important to you, you should be able to find that information on their website or profile. Doulas of North America (DONA), Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA), and Birthworks International are some of the more widely known certifying organizations.

Start early in your pregnancy and schedule interviews

Doula schedules often fill up quickly, so don’t wait! You may be able to view a doula’s schedule on their website or Doula Match profile; otherwise, email or call to check availability for your estimated due date. Plan to interview at least two to three doulas and bring your birth partner! Doulas usually offer an interview or consultation at no cost or obligation. These interviews last about one hour and are often held in a coffee shop or other public place.

The interview

One of the most important aspects of the doula interview is to see if you and your partner feel comfortable and relaxed with the doula, and if you feel a personal connection. You may decide to ask questions about:

  • the doula’s background, training, and experience with birth
  • why they became a doula and what they enjoy about doula work
  • what services the doula provides, including number, length, and topic of visits
  • the doula’s fees and payment schedules
  • if the doula has a back-up, what circumstances will one be used, and if you can meet the back-up
  • the types of comfort techniques the doula typically provides
  • experience with certain providers, birthing locations, or types of birth

Be prepared for questions from your doula! Doulas often want to know about the type of birth you envision, if you are taking childbirth education classes, and how you’d like your doula to support you and your partner. After you’ve interviewed the doulas you are interested in, think about it! Most doulas give you a few days or a week to consider your decision. Once you have chosen your doula, she will provide you with a contract to consider. This contract protects both of you by outlining fees and when they are due, back-up doula situations, expectations of both you and the doula, and more.

Now that you know how to get started, go out there and find the doula that is right for you! Because every mom deserves support, encouragement, respect, and peace on the day of her baby’s birth. You got this!

About the Author

Kelli Brus CD(DONA) is a mom of two wonderful girls and has been married to her husband since 2007. She lives in Urbandale and is currently taking a break from teaching with Des Moines Public Schools to take care of her little ones and focus on doula work. After her second birth experience, attended by a doula, she knew this was the type of work she wanted to do. She is certified through DONA International (Doulas of North America) and is part of the Central Iowa Doula Association (CIDA). Making sure all moms have support and respect during their birth experiences is so meaningful to Kelli and why she is so dedicated to doula work.



What is a Birth Doula?

Do you want to be fully supported during your pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period? Do you want someone in the birthing room solely dedicated to providing you comfort and experienced information?

Do you want to have the best possible birth experience? A doula may be right for you!!

A certified birth doula is a trained and experienced professional who is hired to assist with birth. A doula meets with her client and birth partner two to three times during pregnancy to learn their personalities, hopes and fears, and past experiences with birth. Birth plans, basic childbirth education, community resources, interventions, comfort techniques, and newborn care may be discussed during these prenatal meetings. A doula comes to the birthing woman during labor, remains until the baby is born, and stays an hour or two afterwards. Examples of the types of support a doula may provide during labor include, but are not limited to:

  • Massage and touch
  • Encouragement of mobility, motion, and vocalizations
  • Counterpressure on low back and hips
  • Position suggestions for labor and pushing
  • Assistance with breathing, relaxation, and tension release
  • Heat and/or cold to ease discomforts
  • Encouragement to use water, including shower and/or tub
  • Verbal praise and feedback
  • Reframe thoughts, fears, and feelings during labor, if needed
  • Continuous presence with main role of supporting mom
  • Assistance with decisions during labor
  • Encourage partner to take bathroom and meal breaks, and rest if possible
  • Leave the medical tasks (i.e., blood pressure, heart tones, etc) to the nurses, doctors, and midwives

Doulas support women and their partners regardless of the type of birth they are planning, whether that be in a home, hospital, or birth center, if they plan to use pain medication or not, and if they decide to bottle feed or breastfeed. In other words, doulas support you in the type of birth YOU want!  

After the baby is born, doulas visit within the first week or two to assist with basic breastfeeding concerns, discuss the mother and couple’s adaptation to a new baby, and discuss their thoughts about the birth experience. For more continuous support during the postpartum period, consider hiring a postpartum doula.

As the birth of your baby is one of the most memorable experiences of your life, consider hiring a doula to assist you with your birth! “A woman, as long as she lives, will remember how she was made to feel at her birth.” ~Anna Verwaal

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will discuss how to find a doula!

About the Author

Kelli Brus CD(DONA) is a mom of two wonderful girls and has been married to her husband since 2007. She lives in Urbandale and is currently taking a break from teaching with Des Moines Public Schools to take care of her little ones and focus on doula work. After her second birth experience, attended by a doula, she knew this was the type of work she wanted to do. She is certified through DONA International (Doulas of North America) and is part of the Central Iowa Doula Association (CIDA). Making sure all moms have support and respect during their birth experiences is so meaningful to Kelli and why she is so dedicated to doula work.




Titles and Professions to Know While Pregnant

Titles and Professions to Know When Pregnant

When you become pregnant everything is a little overwhelming, or way overwhelming! You are making sure your eating healthy, taking the right supplements, creating a birth plan, looking for a postpartum doula 🙂 and so on!

While doing your research, you will come across a lot of professions and  titles that are important. It gets confusing. What’s the difference between a lactation consultant and a lactation educator? Which one do I need? Why?

Titles and Professions to Know While Pregnant

I have done some research and created a guide for you. This is here to help you know who is who and who does what!


Midwife – A midwife is a traditional care provider for mothers and infants. They are trained professionals that support a mother, so they can receive the optimum personalization of care. With a midwife you receive personal, woman-centered care.

OB/GYN – An OB/GYN is a gynecologist and obstetrician. A gynecologist is someone who specializes in women’s reproductive health. An obstetrician cares for women during their pregnancy and after the baby is born.

Doula – A doula is a trained individual to provide support to the mother and partner during childbirth. A doula is someone who you meet before your birth and you create a personal relationship. They take note of your wishes while you are in labor and make sure you have confidence to express your wishes and concerns. They also may support before birth and shortly after birth. Doulas do not do any medical procedures.

Labor & Delivery Nurse – A lot of women, who are new to pregnancy, think that they may not need a doula because their nurses will be present. Nurses can be great coaches and support, but one major drawback is you never know who will be your labor and delivery nurse. You do not create a special bond with your nurse before you go into labor, like you do with your doula. Nurses are not only coaching you, but also assisting the doctors.


Lactation Consultant – Lactation consultants are professionally trained, breastfeeding specialists. They are specialists who teach mothers how to feed their baby. They help in all areas of breastfeeding whether it be poor latch, painful nursing, low milk production and more. It is important to know that when looking for a certified lactation consultant, they will have IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) after their name. This means they have sat for the International Board of Lactation Consultant Exam (IBLCE), which is the only certifying body that can award this credential.

Lactation Counselor – A certified lactation counselor (CLC) can help with issues such as helping a baby latch, counseling mothers, they have knowledge of milk production, prevention and management of sore nipples, and a lot of other various issues. A CLC is not required to sit for the IBLCE. They are required to have a lot of hands on hours and to complete a program, to become certified.

Lactation Educator – A certified lactation educator (CLE), is usually a nurse, doula or other type of birth profession that have taken a course to gain more experience and knowledge in breastfeeding. They provide encouragement, guidance, referrals (to a lactation consultant), education, and support. When searching for a doula or provider, checking if they are a CLE may be beneficial.


Postpartum Doula – A postpartum doula provides emotional, physical, and evidence-based informational support after birth. A postpartum doula is an individual that allows the mother and newborn to create a special bond, without having to worry about everything else. They may do light housekeeping, listen and answer questions, make light meals, watch the baby while mom sleeps, and much more.

Prenatal/Postpartum Fitness Instructor – A prenatal and postpartum fitness instructor is trained specifically to instruct fitness classes to pregnant women and postpartum women. They are knowledgable about the pregnant and postpartum body anatomy.

Childbirth Educator – A childbirth educator is trained to be able to provide education and support to pregnant women and their families. They prepare women and families on what to expect before labor and after.

What profession or title am I missing? Feel free to ask below and I will get it added!


Local Doula Spotlight: Blessed Bean Birth & Belly

In celebration of World Doula Week I had the privilege to interview one of the many doulas, in Central Iowa, Michelle Conkling. Michelle’s doula business is Blessed Bean Birth & Belly and has been a doula for almost two years. Below, you will find some basic questions of why she became a doula, her education, and why she enjoys it so much!

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Why did you want to become a doula?

“Before my daughter was born, I didn’t even know what a doula was. After she was born, I started to read a lot because my birth did not go as planned and ended in a c-section. I joined a local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) group and doulas kept coming up. The more I read about doulas, the more passionate I became about the idea. I wanted to support women through this very important time.”

What program did you use to become a certified doula? How long did it take you?

“I certified through the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA). There are many organizations now that certify doulas but I felt that ICEA and DONA had the most name recognition. I also liked that I could go back and certify as a post partum doula, a childbirth educator, and a prenatal and postpartum fitness educator all under one umbrella. There are eight books you need to read through ICEA on topics of birth to breastfeeding to postpartum depression. After I completed the reading, I attended a doula training workshop – this was an intense, hands on, two days full of information, workshop. I also attended a childbirth education class. And then I jumped in to attending births. You need three births to get certified – I am a volunteer doula through Mercy West so that helped a lot. I have subsequently attended additional training on VBAC’s and on utilizing a rebozo for labor support (a rebozo is a traditional Mexican shawl that can be used to apply pressure to the hips or support the belly.”

What is your favorite part of being a doula?

“I am continually amazed at the strength and power that women have during birth. And there is always the part when the mother gets to see her baby for the first time. It is a privilege to be a witness to both.”

Why should every pregnant woman hire a doula?

“We spend so much time and money planning our weddings but often we don’t give equal consideration to planning our births. Now granted, there are many things you can’t control during birth. But it is worth the time to educate yourself not only about the birth process but creating a support team around you – that support team includes your medical providers. One in three births in this country end in a c-section and those stats are very true in Iowa. We need to start asking our medical care providers tough questions about evidence based care long before we are in the middle of labor – questions about inductions and c-section rates. Having the continuous support of a doula has been shown in numerous clinical studies to result in shorter labors, reduces the need for Pitocin and c-sections, and reduces the mother’s need for pain meds and epidurals. The continuous support that a doula provides is invaluable!”

Do you have children and did you use a doula for your birth?

‘I will absolutely be using a doula for my next birth!”

What differentiates you from other doulas in the area?

There are many great women offering doula services in the Des Moines area. I really think it’s important for women (and their partners) to meet with several doulas to find the best fit for them. My role is to not only support the expecting mother but if she has a partner, help him or her best support the mother.

How many births have you attended?

“I have attended 15 births.”

How much do you charge? What type of packages do you offer?

“My fee is $600. I don’t offer different packages – I do offer a bellycast to clients if they are interested in that. I can work with people on payment plans and take Paypal.”

To celebrate even more Michelle has been gracious enough to give away one FREE belly cast! A belly cast is a plaster cast of a pregnant woman’s belly. It is a beautiful keepsake you can keep for years to come and show your children. This is one, of the many, unique things Michelle offers to all her clients.

Follow these rules to be enter into winning a FREE belly cast! I will announce a winner Sunday, March 29th on my Facebook page.

Belly Cast Giveaway

 Happy World Doula Week!


Doula: Why Do YOU Need One?

It is World Doula Week! World Doula Week officially began on Sunday.

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What is World Doula Week?!? “The purpose of World Doula Week (“WDW”) is to empower doulas all over the world to improve the physiological, social, emotional, and psychological health of women, newborns and families in birth and in the postpartum period.” – World Doula Week

I did not even know what a doula was when Monte was born in 2012. Since his birth, I have slowly learned what a doula is and why EVERY pregnant woman should have and deserves a doula during their birth. When I discovered I was pregnant with Amelia, I knew that this was a necessity for me. I knew I wanted to accomplish a completely different birth, then what I had with Monte. A doula is what helped me achieve those goals!

What does a doula do? 

  • A doula is your advocate when you are giving birth. A doula will make sure the birth you want is accomplished. If something does not go as plan, your doula will know what you are comfortable with and will always be their to speak for you. A doula will keep you informed at all times.
  • A doula does not take the place of your partner. A doula will help your partner feel more confident during your birth and help guide your partner with things to do.
  • A doula will help you feel comfortable. A doula will wipe your face, place a washcloth on your head, remind you to breathe, will know different massage techniques, and be knowledgable in different ways to sit, stand and move during labor.
  • A doula will help postpartum also. A doula will help you become comfortable with skin-to-skin and breastfeeding.

There are several benefits to having a doula including: 

  1. Reduces the incidences of c-section
  2. Lowers the amount of epidural and pain requests
  3. Can shorten the length of labor
  4. Increases successful breastfeeding
  5. Decreases the incidence of postpartum depression

There are several types of doulas and each may be certified in one area or multiple areas.

  1. Birth (Labor) Doula- This is the most common. The doula is available before and through out the labor and birthing process. They help with breathing, advocating for you, massaging, breastfeeding, and more.
  2. Antepartum Doula – Doulas assist with mothers who have been placed on bed rest or who are high-risk. They provide a lot of emotional support and listen. They have resources for great support groups and sometimes will help with light housework.
  3. Postpartum (Postnatal) Doula – A postpartum doula is another set of hands, after your birth, when you are adjusting to life with your baby. The provide light housework, cooking and cleaning. They also provide support and coach with breastfeeding, sleeping, calming, and much more.

I cannot wait to begin my journey as a Postpartum Doula in May. If you have not heard, a CAPPA Postpartum Doula Training is coming to Des Moines. If you have not signed up, do it soon! I am excited to support mothers and their families after birth.


Types of Doulas – How To Become A Doula 

World Doula Week


CAPPA Postpartum Doula Training

World Doula Week is fast approaching!


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I had never heard of a doula until after the birth of Monte and I definitely wish I had the support of a doula with his birth. When I discovered I was pregnant with Amelia, I knew I needed and wanted a doula. The women in the Des Moines area are very lucky with the amount of doulas that are available to help with birth.

During World Doula Week, I am looking forward to sharing with you the awesome resources we have in our area, why you need a doula for your birth, what is involved to become one and an AWESOME giveaway 🙂

For now, I want to focus and share with you an awesome opportunity coming to Des Moines.  Midwest Mom & Wife is hosting a CAPPA Postpartum Doula Training! If you are wanting to become a postpartum doula or are interested in increasing your skills and education, in this field, this is for you.

CAPPA is a pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum organization.

“Since 1998, CAPPA’s mission has been to offer comprehensive, evidence-based education, certification, professional membership and training to childbirth educators, lactation educators, labor doulas, antepartum doulas and postpartum doulas worldwide. CAPPA is proud to provide new and expectant families access to these professionals here. Cappa is a non-profit organization headquartered in the USA, with branches worldwide.”

You will learn:

  • Scope of your Doula Practice
  • How to support parents
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Baby care techniques
  • Calming & soothing techniques
  • Postpartum mood disorders
  • SIDS/Back to sleep campaigns
  • Listening & communication skills
  • Record keeping & contracts
  • Creating & Marketing your business
  • Networking soultions

This whole workshop is going to be AWESOME 🙂

The After Baby Lady, from Michigan, is a certified CAPPA instructor and will be leading our Postpartum Doula Training.

This event will be held May 30th & 31st in Des Moines, Iowa. Location is to be determined! Please share and spread the word!

Please print, post & share the flier!