bellies, babies, breastfeeding, and everything in between

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What is a belly cast? Should I get one?

Our answer is, simply, absolutely! A belly cast is simply a plaster mold of your pregnant belly, done in the third trimester.  The mold typically includes a woman’s breasts as well, though can certainly be done without.  Belly casts are a beautiful, artistic way to celebrate your pregnancy and growing family!  They can be painted, decorated with flowers, ribbons, or other decorations, or left plain white.  Many women put them on display in their homes, or keep them as keepsakes in the baby’s room.  We’ve even seen professional photo shoots of the newborn laying in the plaster cast!

Casts can even include hips, arms, and legs.  The options are endless!  One of our doulas, Rachel Vorhauer, uses her extensive artistic skill to create beautifully artistic belly casts.  Materials are relatively inexpensive and are covered in the belly cast package.  It’s a keepsake that you can treasure for years to come.  Your pregnant body is beautiful and should be celebrated!  The experience is also a great way to bond with your doula, and become accustomed to her caring touch.  Many moms comment that they feel even more comfortable with their doula after a belly-casting session.  

The casting takes place in the comfort of your own home, or in your doula’s home if you prefer.  A sheet or blanket is laid down to protect the floor.  Your doula will cover your belly, breasts, and any other area that is going to be casted with a layer of Vaseline, or Alba Unpetroleum Jelly.  You may wish to wear an old bra or old pair of underwear that can be ruined during the casting.  Some mamas like to have their nipples outlined in the cast, others do not.  Wearing a thin bra can disguise the nipples, and give heavy breasts a more lifted look if that is your wish.  Your doula can also wrap you with Glad Press’n’Seal or Saran Wrap to help protect your skin and bra.  The plaster sheets are then dipped in water and draped over your body in layers.  This can take anywhere from twenty minutes to over an hour, depending on the size of the area, and how thick you want the casting to be.  You can stand or sit on a stool during this time.  Once the cast is completely dry (this will vary depending on the thickness), it is removed and dried further before decorating.  

Questions?  Interested?  Contact us! 


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Why do doulas cost so much?

Why do doulas cost so much?  This question has a variety of answers.  For one, the cost of a doula varies depending on where you live, as does the cost of anything.  In a small rural community, a doula might only be a few hundred dollars.  In cities such as New York and Washington, DC, they are usually in the thousands.  This has a lot to do with cost of living, operating expenses, etc.

In our area standard doula packages are often between $700 and $900.  Packages with more advanced services such as reiki, photography, private childbirth classes, extra postpartum support, or other extra support will cost even more.  Doulas with extra skills and certifications often charge more for their packages because the client is getting the benefits of their additional skills.

When you are hiring a doula, you are paying for a lot of different services.  You are paying for her education and experience.  Doulas are experts in labor support, the physiology of pregnancy and birth, and how to navigate the policies and protocols of their local birthing facilities.  Many have advanced training and education in other areas. You are also paying for her time.  A doula comes to you, and can spend up to three hours or more with you during your prenatal visits.  She also spends a lot of time behind the scenes preparing for these visits.  Your doula wants to make sure she can answer all of your questions related to your specific situation.  In addition, she will be with you for a few hours during your postpartum visit after the birth.  Speaking of the birth…

Most doulas are on call for births from 38 weeks to 42 weeks.  This is an entire month of her life that she puts on hold for you.  It means she can’t go on vacation, or anywhere that’s more than an hour or two away.  It means she might plan a birthday party for her child, but could miss it.  It means she can’t have more than one or two glasses of wine at any given time.  It means she has to get enough rest, eat well so she doesn’t get sick, have babysitters and backup lined up at a moments notice, have her phone on loud, and generally be “on point” while she waits for your call.  Our doula packages also involve 24-hour text and phone support, meaning we are always available to answer any questions you might have.

More importantly, the birth itself can be anywhere from a couple hours, to a couple days!  Many doulas have at least one birth where they end up being with a laboring mama for 48 hours or more.  If you break down their fee based solely on hourly work, they end up making less than minimum wage!  One of the benefits of a doula is that she provides you with continuous support.  Unlike nurses and doctors her shift doesn’t end until a couple hours after your baby is born.  During incredibly long births your doula might snatch a cat nap, but for the most part she is with you, supporting you, the entire time.

Birth work is incredibly rewarding, but it is also very emotionally and physically draining.  Your doula puts a lot of time and effort into the service that she provides for you!  When broken down, you get a lot for what you are paying.

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Why every pregnant woman deserves a doula

Many pregnant women have heard of doulas, but wonder why they would need one.  Aren’t they expensive? (Yes, but worth it.  More on that later)  Why do I need one when I have my husband?  The nurses?  The doctor or midwife?

First of all, a doula is a professional in something that none of the above people are, and that is called ‘labor support.’  While your husband may be fantastic at many things, he has probably not received this training.  In addition, a doula can help your husband or partner be a more full participant in the experience.  A laboring woman often needs many things at once.  Someone to hold her hand, and speak encouraging words.  Another to rub her sore neck or spray cool water in her hair.  Another person (or better yet two) providing counter pressure to her lower back, hips, and buttocks in order to help her manage the contractions better.  One or more people are often required to help a laboring woman change positions, especially if she is in a hospital bed and hooked up to an IV, External Fetal Monitor, and other devices.  Someone is needed to grab snacks and drinks for dad and other people who might be helping mom.  Everyone uses the bathroom at some point!  Someone is needed to prepare the warm or cool compresses, change the radio because mom hates the song, dim the lights, etc.  One’s partner simply cannot be all of these people at once.  And if he is, he is not participating fully in the experience.  If mom wants him up by her head, talking her through the contractions, who is providing counterpressure from behind?

Labor and Delivery nurses often receive very little (if any) training in labor support.  They have a lot of other work to do!  They often have more than one laboring patient at a time and are responsible for watching all of the machines, coordinating medications, informing the doctor of any changes, and a ton of other tasks.  In the United States, it is nearly unheard of for a doctor to provide labor support in the delivery room.  Doctors are often accessible only to the nurse, by phone, until birth is imminent.

Having a doula is like having a person pregnancy and birth concierge.  She is basically there to do everything she can to make you more comfortable during this incredibly important transition from pregnancy to growing family.  A doula provides education about the physiology of labor and birth, what to expect at your local hospital (she has experience there, so she knows!), what to expect when you go home, a list of referrals for problems that might arise, and more!  She provides the physical and emotional support that is so crucial to relieving the pain and stress of labor.  It’s hard work having a baby!  Every woman deserves the support to make it easier.

Many of our most staunch supporters are dads.  Fathers who experience birth with a doula report that they feel much more connected to their wife and baby, as they were relieved of a lot of the mundane duties that would have detracted from the experience.

Many studies also report on the benefits of having a doula, and they go far beyond just the emotional benefits for mom and dad!  An in depth study can be found here:

Read one of our favorite articles here, from Evidence Based Birth:

Salient points include these:  the presence of continuous labor support (i.e. a doula) decreased the use of epidural anesthesia, decreased the rates of instrumental delivery (forceps or vacuum), decreased the rates of cesarean section, increased breast feeding rates, and increased maternal satisfaction with both partner and baby.

There are countless other benefits to having a doula, and be sure that we will continue to make our community aware of them!