Birth Doula Services for the Ann Arbor Area
Looking for birth doula services in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area? You’ve come to the right place.
With a birth doula, know you have the support and insight you need throughout your pregnancy journey. Have professional help in the moment, every moment, during your birth.
A birth doula is there for you. Doulas are knowledgeable about the incredible range of experiences, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, that your birth has the potential for and are skilled in helping you experience a positive, healthy, and empowering birth. Doula services include up to four prenatal or postpartum sessions, unlimited phone and email support, and attendance at your birth. Additional sessions may be added for an additional fee.
My name is Deb Rhizal. I am the founder of pregnancy arts and I offer doula services. I work to assure that your needs are met as you prepare for and give birth, as well as during the first six weeks after birth.
See these Frequently Asked Questions
- What do you do at a birth?
- What do you do during prenatal sessions?
- What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
- What are the benefits of hiring a doula?
- How long have you been a doula?
- How do I get started and what is your fee?
- Additional Services
What do you do during a birth?
Early Labor Support
I am happy to meet you at your home or at the hospital. My personal style is flexible according to your desire, but typically I am simply attentive and present as your labor unfolds. I am totally there for you, but stay on the periphery until I sense that my input or more direct presence will benefit you. This allows you to follow your own instincts, consciously or not, and your own strength into birth. It also means that you can call me as early as you feel it would be nice to have someone there, rather than feeling like you must wait until you really need or want someone working directly with you.
I stay tuned in from the background, deliberately offering spiritual or quiet emotional support in whatever way you appreciate (prayer, love, reiki, good will). I believe this brings comfort and has a profound physical effect as well. It is an important part of care during labor, which can be provided by a birth doula, friend, and/or a loved one.
During early labor I assure that you are resting and eating, in a constructive mindset, and also give attention to creating an environment that will help your labor progress.
At the first sign that I could be more helpful by offering comfort measures or suggestions, or by being closer for reassurance or support, I naturally ease into a more direct presence. During many births my involvement is direct and steady from this point on. During many others there is an ebb and flow of when we work together and when I step back and hold the space for you to continue your birthing. I follow my gut on this, and welcome your request for space or help at ANY time.
You can expect the following active, direct care when you hire me as your birth doula. Not everything is necessary for every couple or for every birth. I will do only what you desire from your doula and only what benefits your family.
Active Labor Support
- During intense active labor, I help you trust what you are experiencing and reassure you that you are safe and healthy. I help you find a way to work constructively with labor and find coping methods that work for you.
- During slower labors I recognize factors that seem to be enhancing or impeding your labor and help you take actions to optimize your labor.
- I help you get rest during breaks in your labor or between contractions.
- I am there for you to provide any comfort measures, emotional support, or run errands as is helpful. I will anticipate and meet your needs.
- I assist you in moving around and being in different positions during labor and birth or in using water therapy or aromatherapy during your labor. (I am not a certified aroma therapist, but can assist you in the use of common aromas in labor or in aromas of your choice).
- I work together with your primary care provider to help you try to naturally correct anything of concern such as the baby’s position, back pain, hyperventilation, exhaustion, or early signs of fetal distress. Your care provider must be fully informed of all concerns and of your choice to facilitate natural techniques. You must be fully informed of their support or their alternative recommendation.
- I am completely supportive of your decisions to utilize pain medications or other medical procedures, and can assist you in optimizing your labor given the special circumstances they necessitate.
Supporting Dads, Family or Friends
- I can help you partner understand your labor as it unfolds, offering assurance and increasing confidence simply by being there and by letting you know when things are going well and are completely normal.
- I model or teach how to support you and draw your partner in, helping them be comfortable actively supporting you in whatever ways unfold during your labor.
- I can fully explain information from others such as nurses or doctors that you or your partner don’t completely understand. They can also flush out insights or help you understand concerns and possible actions if concerns should arise about mom, baby or labor.
- I can run errands or provide food or other comfort measures for your partner.
- I can do the “work” of coaching, reassuring, or even physically assisting you when partners would prefer to be there for you, love you, and have their own experience of the birth.
- I can support a woman through labor who does not have supportive people in her life who can be at the birth.
- I can tell others who are not with you (family and so on) of how you are doing if you or your partner can’t get away to call them and you want them to be updated.
- I can intervene if people who are not able to be supportive in the moments of birth are present and negatively impacting the mother or baby’s wellbeing.
Making Decisions during Labor
- I will take time to thoroughly understand your values and desires.
- I help identify information in service of your values and desires.
- I create space for you to talk with your primary care provider.
- I help you think about decisions between contractions while continuing to work through the contractions as they come.
Working with your Doctor, Midwife or Nurses
- I set the tone for your birth environment and model for other care providers the manner in which you want to be treated during labor.
- I create a team among all of your care providers to bring you the best we each have to offer.
- I suggest you see your primary care provider when I feel it would be beneficial for you. I can also assist in calling the care provider or recounting details of your labor if desired.
- I help you obtain all of the information and suggestions from your care provider that you desire, and help you understand their comments.
- I help you request changes in nursing care or student observation if necessary to support your desires or values for birth.
- I help you do things immediately after birth in support of breastfeeding, within the scope allowed by your practitioner’s or hospital’s policies or health recommendations. Examples include having the baby skin-to-skin with mom, getting in a good position to nurse, and creating a helpful environment.
- I help you and the baby with the first breastfeeding after birth as desired.
- I am available for lactation calls (additional fee) both at your home and in the hospital. I have extensive experience with breastfeeding, both personally and as a midwife’s assistant. I am not a certified lactation consultant, but I am a huge advocate of their assistance and can identify special needs and refer you to a consultant when that would be helpful.
What I Do Not Do
- I do not perform clinical tasks such as listening to the baby’s heartbeat, performing cervical exams, or assessing vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, or fever.
- I do not interpret labor signs such as bloody show, blood loss, or the color or smell of amniotic fluid, although I will recommend that you get the opinion of your care provider if I feel the signs you are experiencing are significantly different than what is typically seen.
- I do not make decisions or recommendations. I share experiences, stories and information as you desire to assist you in making your own decision.
- I do not communicate your decisions to your care providers on your behalf. I am happy to share the history of your pregnancy or labor, my observations, or your birth plan with your medical care provider with your permission.
- I do not deliver babies. In the case of an unexpected fast delivery I expect you to make every prudent effort to have a medical care provider present. Any assistance I offer is voluntary and should be considered a Good Samaritan effort.
What do you do at prenatal sessions?
During our first prenatal session, I listen to your experiences, hopes and concerns, and learn about any special circumstances. As your birth doula, I focus on understanding your needs, desires, and values as they relate to your pregnancy and birth. This session is a time for me to learn what I need to know in order to be able to tailor your care to help you have the experience you want.
Additional sessions are different for different families. Sometimes couples tell me what they would like to do, and other times I make suggestions based on my experience. Sessions may include childbirth education, birth planning, visualization, or deep relaxation.
What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
Midwives are primary medical care providers. They are trained in how to assess the health of women and babies during pregnancy and birth, and in how to manage unexpected complications during labor and birth. They provide prenatal health care and deliver babies. A birth doula is only there for non-medical support. She does not give medical advise, assess the health of women or babies, or deliver babies.
What are the benefits of hiring a doula?
Birth is an incredibly impacting experience and women carry their memories of birth with them into their postpartum months and throughout their lives. More importantly, they also carry what they learn during birth deeply within themselves. My vision is that every mother, baby, and father learn that they are loved during birth. This is the core of positive birthing, which can be a foundation for holistic wellbeing over a lifetime.
Every birth is different! Families experience a huge variety of emotions following birth. Many births reveal to us our personal strength, the depth of our supportive relationships, and reverence for the power of creation and life. Birth can be a profoundly and mysteriously empowering experience. Families are often pulled together in ways unthinkable through the experience of birthing.
Unfortunately the opposite can also happen. Birth can leave a family feeling judged or bullied, or create fears and trauma. Difficulty understanding one another and a feeling of helplessness can greatly stress relationships and affect our ability to care for our newborn.
There is also immense diversity in the physicality of birth as well. Some labors are very long, some are very fast. Some move with an incredible unstoppable and climaxing force of their own, others come and go and are greatly affected by environment, body positions, activity, and energy. Pain is experienced in different degrees and in different places.
The art of Birth Doulas can make the difference!
The emotional experience you have in birth does not need to be a lottery! You can plan and prepare for a positive birth experience. Personal preparation and the support of an exceptional birth team can put the power to have a wonderful experience in your hands. Your physical experience is optimized by these same tools!
My clients say again and again that the reassurance and confidence they felt from my presence was incredibly important for them. Even with great classes and preparation, birth is an unknown until you’ve experienced it. The fathers in my client group are especially grateful simply for the fact that I was there and that I knew what to do. It put them at ease, and helped them to know how to be there for their wife as she went through labor. Mothers often recount a small thing I said or something I did as very crucial to them in a moment when they felt they couldn’t go on or when they began to be afraid. Some of my clients have had long labors and the tools I introduced as their doula were very key to stimulating their labors.
The nurses I’ve worked with, and some of the doctors and midwives, have been the source of greatest acknowledgment of the value of my work. After birth I am often told by these professionals that my presence was a huge factor in how lovely and amazing these births are. For them, the births I’ve attended stand out in their memory from the many births they witness. I have received personal notes and cards expressing the impact that some of these births have had on nurses, and I’ve received personal feedback from doctors and midwives about how insightful and helpful my presence was.
I know that it was the couples I worked for, and birth itself, that created what these professionals were witnessing in many cases. I personally believe that all births are a miracle. But it is true that when an entire room of people draw their energy around the birthing woman the unique spiritual nature of birth is more clearly experienced. There is more love revealed in the room. This team nature and focus on the birthing is what I feel is the most important thing I offer as a birth doula. I am successful to different degrees, but often I am able to model for everyone present how to be reverent of the family giving birth, and they all follow suit. This makes for an incredible atmosphere for birth to naturally unfold in all its power and complexity.
The tangible benefits of hiring a doula have also been researched. They include shorter labors and less medical interventions. Follow this link for a summary of benefits.
See more frequently asked questions about doulas on DONA’s site. (DONA is an international doula certification organization.)
How long have you been a doula?
I became a doula in March of 2004. From 2004 through 2009 I worked with private doula clients, and assisted a midwife in Goshen, IN. I moved to Ann Arbor in 2010, where I continue my life’s work with families around the time of pregnancy. I have attended over 300 births.
How do I get started and what is your fee?
I offer a free interview in Ann Arbor for anyone considering doula services. This gives you a chance to get to know me and learn more about how doulas services can be helpful for you. Phone interviews are also welcome.
My full fee is $1200. I offer a limited number of fee reductions based on income for those for whom the full fee is restrictive. Additional prenatal or postpartum sessions are available for $65.00 per session.
It is never too early or too late in your pregnancy to hire a birth doula!