DoulaLabor Support + Companion
How you feel about your birth matters.
As a doula, I work along side you and your partner on this journey to bring your baby into this world. I’m like your personal Yoda or guide as you navigate your way into early parenthood. As a doula, I provide physical, emotional and informational support for you and your partner before, during and after your baby’s birth.
The evidence is clear.
Doulas make a difference in your birth experience.
Decrease in the risk of Cesarean*
Increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth*
Decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five-minute Apgar score;
Less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor **
Less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively**
How does this work?
To start, we do an interview to get to know each other. I want you to be totally comfortable with having me in your birthing space. I take that honor very seriously. Then I answer all of your and your partner’s questions. Then you’ll have time to decide if you want me to be a part of your birth team.
If you hire me, I offer 24/7 phone/email support throughout your pregnancy. We’ll meet two or three times during your pregnancy to discuss what you hope to have occur in your baby’s birth and then prepare for that and make plans. I empower you by helping you get the evidence-based information and resources you need to make informed decisions about your baby’s birth.
I’ll be on call for your birth starting two weeks before your estimated due date until the baby is in your arms. So that’s up to a month of coverage!
I support birthing persons in whatever informed decision they make about birth – medicated or unmedicated birth, vaginal deliveries, cesarean (c-sections), or VBACs (vaginal births after cesarean).
Continuous support during labor, birth and shortly after birth
When labor starts, I arrive as soon as you want me to – whether that means meeting you at home or at the hospital/birth center. Then I provide continuous non-medical support during labor and birth for not only you but also your partner. So this looks different for everyone. I’ll suggest comfort measures such as using a fan, dimming the lighting, playing music, using the birthing ball, massaging, and offering encouragement. All those measures are designed to help you feel calm, comfortable and safe as much as possible in the birthing space. I’ll help your partner by giving them ideas on how to help you and make sure that you both are getting fueled by food and drinks.
Follow-up postpartum visit
Then we’ll meet postpartum to check in on how things are going with your new life with your baby and process your birth.
Why do I doula?
Because birth matters. Birth is life-changing. I’ve met people who had positive and negative experiences with birth. I’ve seen the beauty and strength of women giving birth. And, I am in awe. I want to help women feel supported and care for as they go through one of the most challenging and life-altering experiences of their life – meeting their baby!
The general narratives around birth is that it’s scary. But I want to change that. Birth is beautiful. It’s messy. It’s powerful. It can be empowering with the right birth team.
I want to help women look back on their birth with pride because they ARE badass warriors.
America has one of the poorest health outcomes for mothers (especially for women of color) and babies. I want to be a part of the solution by helping the mother feel supported during her birth and amplify her voice and take control of what happens to her body and baby.
I am also a birth photographer.
In every doula package there are pictures included. The number of photos you get depends on which package you selected. They will be images of the support that you got from your partner, the waiting, the moment you laid eyes on your baby and the glorious golden hour. The group will include your first family picture. Those are the pictures you’ll treasure. We’re not going for the cover of Vogue. This is real and raw. This is beautiful. This is birth.
I take the honor of being a part of a birthing space very seriously. Let's chat virtually to get to know each other a bit to see if we're a great fit!
What does "on-call" mean?
What areas do you serve?
I serve Southwest Michigan only – Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, South Haven, Holland, Kalamazoo and their nearby surrounding areas.
What about my partner/spouse?
I do not replace your partner. Your partner is an important part of your birth team so I support both of you. Partners are awesome! They often need reassurance, rest, pee breaks, suggestions on how to support you and reminders to eat too. As a doula, I am a member of your birth team just like your partner is.
How are doulas different than the midwife or doctor?
Doulas are non-medical professionals. Midwives and doctors are focused on the medical side of birth. They are trained to focus on the health and safety of the mother and baby. Doulas are focused on the birth experience of the mother. Doulas provide physical, emotional and informational support before, during and after the birth.
I’m having a cesarean. I don't need a doula, right?
Actually, every birth person can benefit from a doula including those who are having a c-section birth. As a doula, I’ve been trained on what to expect at a cesarean birth, I’ll help you come up with your preferences for what you want to happen in the operating room, and if I am able (depends on hospital and provider policy), I’ll be in the operating room supporting you and your partner as we wait for the moment your child is born. Since, after the child is born, the partner often goes with the baby back to the room or nursery, as the doula, I’ll stay with you until you are reunited with your baby. Then I’ll help you with the golden hour stuff like the snuggles and breastfeeding (if you choose to go that route).
What does a doula not do?
I do NOT anything medical that nurses, doctors or midwives do – such as taking your blood pressure, administer drugs, catching the baby, do surgery and so on. I do NOT replace your partner. I support YOU and your partner in the birthing space.
Who Is Kristen Schell?
I am a certified Birth Doula and Photographer serving families in Southwest Michigan. I'm based out of Benton Harbor, MI and I serve families in the Benton Harbor, St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, South Haven & Holland areas. I can also serve Michigan City and South Bend area.
I am an LGBTQ+ friendly and transgender safe space. All family types are welcome here.
Meet with me virtually.
Let's chat. There's no pressure. Let's see if I'm the right person for you.