Support for your best birth.
You want a great birth. What does that look like for you? This is your birth, your baby, your voice. We support all your choices. Birth is an intense, amazing journey, and we're here for you step by step.
You want a great birth. What does that look like for you? This is your birth, your baby, your voice. We support all your choices. Birth is an intense, amazing journey, and we're here for you, step by step.
What's a doula, anyhow?
Your doula is like a guide through new terrain. Could you explore an unfamiliar country or a mountain range without a guide? Of course you could. But an expert really helps you make the most of the travel experience — sharing insider tips, helping you think through your priorities, and leading you to hidden gems. It's the same thing with the doula. You know your body and your priorities. Your partner (if you have one) knows you. Our doulas know birth. Your nurse, midwife and doctor will be in and out, and you can't predict who'll be there on the day your labor begins. Shifts change, energy and attitudes change. Your doula is steady and familiar, and she'll be with you for the long haul.
We know how to help.
Birth Kalamazoo has been supporting families since 2005. Every one of our doulas is trained and personally selected by our owner, Jessica English. We look for the best of the best, who will nurture you and guide you on this journey.
You can have a baby without a doula. Of course you can! But we are focused on helping you experience your best birth. Research supports the ways doulas improve outcomes, and our clients tell us it's true. Our job is to help you have a more centered, better informed, more supported birth. That matters a lot.
Beth Kindle, with Graham
"I can be a really high-strung person, and our doula Jessie (Daam) just has this gentle, calm energy about her. She I really connected, and she did a great job supporting me and Kevin, and being attentive to both of our needs. Even before the birth, she would send texts to check in and encourage me. When I stayed pregnant until 42 weeks and needed to consider induction, it really helped to know we were all on the same page, and that I had someone in my corner. I remember sitting on the ball through a challenging contraction and she was helping me with my breath, so I could get back on top of it. She was authoritative, which I needed, but still very gentle and loving. Having a doula is so worth the investment. It’s pretty cool to be connected to someone that helped you birth a baby into the world. Giving birth is a very raw experience and I love that we have this deep connection now for life."
Adriene Davis, with Kevin Jr.
“Our original doula was sick when I went into labor, so Jessica (English) attended our birth instead. I needed an induction, and I started having strong contractions really quickly. My nurse did not think I was in active labor but Jessica was able to validate what I was feeling. That was huge for me. When she arrived, I was throwing up and she offered me some peppermint spray. Simply smelling the peppermint stopped my nausea immediately, which was amazing. Jessica had such a calm demeanor, it just changed the energy in the room and made me feel like everything was going to be ok. She had lots of ideas for comfort measures and positions, and she reminded me that I always had options. There were a few times that I felt like I was starting to spiral and panic, but Jessica and my wife were able to give me hope and keep me focused. At the end, I decided I did not want to push. I had hit a wall. Jessica was calm and kind, but also assertive in this moment. She told me that I had to do it, that I could do it, and that getting the baby out would stop the contractions. She was right and gave me the encouragement I needed. Another huge way she helped was by supporting my wife. I think Sara was empowered to be a better support person and more confident because our doula was there. I heard them talking at one point, while I was laboring in the tub. They were getting their game plan together. I knew that they had my back. The teamwork approach felt so supportive. I am passionate about telling all of my pregnant friends and family members to consider getting a doula. They can have a better birth outcome and really benefit from the extra support. My motto is, ‘Doulas for everybody!’”
Stacey Charron-Milnikel, with Emmett
"As we were going through our birth classes, we realized how much there really was to this process. We decided last minute to have a doula, and as soon as we hired Diane, I felt so much more comfortable. I connected with Diane right away, she’s very calming and she has so much experience. During early labor, she walked and talked with us, and really put us both at ease. As things got more intense, she helped with massage and made suggestions to move things forward. Her suggestion to rock in a chair really worked for me. I didn’t connect very well with the nurses in the hospital, so having Diane there with me made me feel a lot more validated when I asked for something. Toward the end of labor, I was feeling the urge to push but my cervix wasn’t quite dilated enough yet. Diane was so incredible through that, she knew the right breathing and positions to help me not push too soon. Jason was really well prepared because of our class with Birth Kalamazoo, but having our doula was like the support net underneath everything. He absolutely loved having her there. There were certain things that were very important to us for our birth and it was so comforting to know I had someone on the team who understood birth and really had my back.”
Melissa Montague, with Olson
"Our first birth with Danielle went so smooth that when I was pregnant again I briefly wondered if we really needed a doula again. My husband Matt said we definitely did, and of course we should have her back. I’m so glad that we did! My daughter Maple was sunny side up and it was a much longer labor than my first. I was in totally new territory, and it was really helpful to have Danielle there, knowing she had seen births like this before. I know that each birth is unique, but I’d told myself that my first birth was so smooth and easy that I could probably just sneeze and have this baby. As it turned out, I got a curve ball and needed to push for more than six hours before Maple was born. I am 100% certain that I would have had a c-section if Danielle hadn’t been with us. She had so many ideas and strategies, and she was really calm and confident. That definitely helped the hospital staff and Matt and I to be more patient and confident too. Even things that are totally normal during a birth can catch you by surprise, but she was so calming and reassuring. Danielle was always caring, responsive, and empathic. I looked over at Matt a few times when things were really intense, and I could see in his eyes that he was worried. Danielle helped moderate the anxiety for both of us, and she helped us have a healthy birth. I’m just really, really grateful. Having a sort of Sherpa to guide you through the process is a no-brainer for me. There’s no question, she’ll be with us for baby number three."
Michelle Wright, with Maple
"My husband was deployed for most of my pregnancy, and he made it back just in time for the birth. Leading up to labor, our doula Jessie (Daam) was always ready to answer any questions or point me to resources where I could learn more. During the birth, she was amazing support for both of us, and also for my mother and mother-in-law, who were there too. I just didn’t have the brainpower for ideas in labor, but Jessie was constantly suggesting whatever was needed in the moment — walking, getting on the ball, trying different positions, using the squat bar. At various points my mother-in-law was really encouraging me to get an epidural, but Jessie reminded me of what I wanted and made sure I knew it was my choice. She also showed us this one point on my back that took away so much of the pain, and that was amazing. Jessie is the sweetest person ever, just so gentle and caring, dedicated, encouraging and wonderful. My labor was 30 hours long and she was there the whole time. She made it so I didn’t have to think about anyone or anything else other than my baby and giving birth. Getting a doula was the best decision."
Hannah Willson, with Kelvin
"Jennifer was our birth doula and she was wonderful. When you’re in labor, you don’t want anyone that you need to be really polite to, because you just don’t know how you’ll be. We had taken Birth Kalamazoo’s class, and my husband was super supportive. Jennifer could read us really well, and she was able to give us a lot of space but step in exactly where she was needed. She met us at home and was with us there in labor. I was in my zone and didn’t want to go to the hospital, but she let us know when it sounded like things were getting close. If we’d left any later, I don’t think I would have been able to get in the car. Things went so fast once we got to the hospital. Every time my labor progressed, it was because of one of Jennifer’s cues. She had me doing squats at just the right time, and labor got stronger. She showed me a certain lunge, and my water broke. Chris was great, but he had never done this before, and he wouldn’t have pushed me the way Jennifer did. It was all in a gentle way, but I’m an athlete and I really needed her to push me to go to my full potential so I could have the natural birth I wanted."
Colleen Forestieri, with Eden
"Birth is a defining experience of your life as a woman, and I’ve always known I wanted a doula. I felt such comfort, strength and peace of mind knowing that Jessica (English) was with us for our birth. My water broke at 24 weeks, and Zahari was born at 25 weeks and six days. Jessica was the first person I called when my water broke. I didn’t know what to do, but she did. Once I was admitted, she came and sat on my hospital bed and together we came up with this list of ways I could manage my anxiety until he was born. She also encouraged me to talk with my doctors about what I wanted. I had so much trust and faith in her, and I knew that whatever came up, she would be calm and centered and supportive. When I did go into labor, my husband called her and when Jessica walked through that door I just had this huge sense of relief wash over me, like the weight of the world was off my shoulders. I knew things would be OK, and given the circumstances, that’s a pretty big way to feel! I could see that Damon and my mom also felt very calmed and soothed by her presence, and that was really important to me. She even remembered to bring a mirror so I could see my baby’s head crowning, which is something I’ve dreamed about all my life. There’s nothing I wouldn’t have gone without to have her with me. I can’t imagine anyone ever, in the history of life, regretting it. If I had a magic wand or if I won the lottery, nobody in the world would have a baby without a doula."
Love Chambers, with Zahari
"When I found out I needed a planned cesarean, the first thing I did was to call my birth doula Teresa. I was crying, I wanted a natural birth so badly. We talked through all of the options, and I just knew that she understood me. It was so amazing to have her there on the day of the birth. I had to go to the hospital at 6 in the morning, and Teresa met me there just full of smiles and joy, and that made me feel so much happier about the birth. She talked me through the whole procedure like 20 times, because I kept asking her to walk me through it again. It was nice to hear how everything was going to go, and she helped me make sure that I could have the things I wanted for my cesarean birth. In recovery, Teresa helped me get the baby latched right away, and Adalie nursed for at least half an hour. It was awesome, and we’re still breastfeeding. I never could have done that without her. She was a professional, but our bond was so much deeper. Teresa over-exceeded all of my expectations for a doula."
Emily Lemmer, Adalie's mom
"My midwife highly recommended a doula for our home birth. As soon as I met Kama, I knew I wanted her to be my doula. We met a few times before the delivery, and she just fit right in with my husband and I. She made me feel calm about any worries that came up. I am a NICU nurse so I have seen what can go wrong. Kama made sure to keep me out of nurse mode and focused on my own healthy delivery. On the day of the birth, my husband was still at work and Kama was the first one to come and labor with me. Kama made sure I was eating and drinking, she rubbed my back, and worked hard to keep me as comfortable as possible. My midwife needed to focus on my health and the baby’s health, so it was nice to have someone dedicated to attending to my physical and emotional needs. The baby was not in the best position, so my labor was prolonged. Kama stayed with me the whole time and even a few hours after my baby was born. Birth was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and Kama helped so much with all of her encouragement and support. We have even kept in touch after the birth. You can tell that she truly cares about her families. It was a great experience, and I cannot imagine giving birth without a doula."
Andrea Cohen, with Rosalie
Research tell us that doulas help make birth better. It's known as "the doula effect":
Shorter labors (yes, please!)
Less likely to need pain medication, less use of vacuum and forceps, and significantly lower cesarean rates; higher APGAR scores for your baby and fewer admissions to a special care nursery (NICU)
Higher birth satisfaction. Research tells us you'll remember your birth, in detail, for your whole life; our births impact self esteem and confidence, and they're the beginning of our mothering story for each baby
Doulas aren't just helpful for the person giving birth. We also support your partner and all the other people who love you. Here's what some partners had to say about their experience with our doulas:
“We felt very secure with our doula. You can read all of the books or go to a class, but not every birth is the same, and sometimes it can be long, painful and stressful. It was great to have someone familiar who knew what was happening and what to expect. I found it very helpful. Our doula was so calm and steady, patient and very empathetic during the birth, and even after our son was born.”
with Zahari David
"The best money I've spent was hiring a doula, and I don’t say that lightly as a finance professor at WMU. I was able to focus on being a loving, supportive partner during an intensely emotional event, and our doula provided knowledge, guidance and expertise. Supporting Michelle and catching our children was an amazing experience. A doula and Birth Kalamazoo’s class made our goal a reality."
with Gordon + Maple
"Initially, I wasn’t so sure about a doula because I wanted to be the main support person for my wife. As it turned out, our doula didn’t replace me at all — she gave me the confidence to give my best support to Stacey. Our doula had a long list of options and ideas in her arsenal. It was a great experience, and we’ve already hired a Birth Kalamazoo doula again for our second baby."
"I thought of our doula as part of the matrix required to help us have the birth we wanted. If any piece had been missing, our chances of having that birth would have been a lot less. The doula brought expertise and professionalism, supporting us with perspective and suggestions. People have ideas about the birth they want, but they don’t always have access to the resources needed to see that through."
“We didn’t have a doula for our first birth and had a very poor experience with the medical industry. For our next baby, our doula was an added voice to help us advocate. She was able to remove herself emotionally from the situation and stay rational when we could not. Having an experienced birth doula that both of us could lean on was invaluable for our son's birth — another tool in the toolbox.”
"Our doula was with us for all three births. Whatever came up, I always knew she would have experience and strategies to guide us. That took a lot of weight off my shoulders so I didn’t have to know everything about birth, but I could focus on us both having a positive experience together. I can’t even imagine how a birth would work without our doula there. We’d never have a baby without her."
with Andi + Ezra
We know how much birth matters.
Birth Kalamazoo was founded to help people have better births. It's honestly just that simple. We know how much birth means to a new family and it should be a centered, loving and positive experience. We'll help you work toward your best birth.
Our doulas don't care how you have your baby, aside from the fact that we'll work really hard to help you meet your goals. We care most that you have options, you have choices, and that you are nurtured, heard and respected.
All births can be beautiful births.
Vaginal birth, cesarean birth. Unmedicated birth, medication. Hospital, birth center, home birth. We love supporting all kinds of births. Sometimes we hear this outdated idea that doulas are just for extra crunchy moms who want everything natural. We love those crunchy home births, but we also love supporting families who are experiencing high-risk situations and need a high-tech delivery. We know that things come up, plans can change, and babies are born in all sorts of ways.
Oh, did we mention there are no extra fees for a long birth? That would go against everything we believe. Our fees stay the same whether your birth takes six hours or 60 hours (yep, we've supported 60-hour births). Birth Kalamazoo even has a special backup fund to bring in a fresh doula if things run really long, at no extra cost to you. We've got you covered.
One more thing to know about us.
We believe in professionalism and certification. All of our doulas are either certified or working toward certification with DONA International. Our owner Jessica English is one of less than 60 advanced certified doulas worldwide. This is an important time in your life, and we take our role seriously, as professionals.
There are more than 70 organizations that certify birth doulas now, and most of them have just sprung up in just the past few years. And because this isn't a licensed profession, some people call themselves doulas without any formal training at all.
We've chosen DONA International because it is the largest, longest-standing and most respected certifying agency. The training is in-person (we don't think online training prepares doulas for this hands-on work), rigorous, and... well, legit. To maintain certification, our doulas need to stay up to date with continuing education. We have a strong code of ethics and clear standards of practice. If there was ever a problem with your doula, you'd have recourse not just through Birth Kalamazoo, but also through our certifying organization. All of this matters to us, a lot.
Investing in a birth doula
Payment plans are available. Insurance doesn't usually cover doula services (except for cost-sharing Christian plans — they often reimburse for doula support), but be sure to check with your flex or HSA account, which could allow your doula fee to be paid with pre-tax dollars.
Birth Kalamazoo's licensed massage therapist, Rachael Nofsinger, is just starting her journey as a birth doula. For clients due before April 1, 2019, she is charging a special reduced rate of $550. If you're due before April and would like to interview Rachael to be your birth doula, please let us know when you fill out your contact form. She's amazing!
- We've put our packages together to give families total support through their pregnancy and postpartum time. Check out the packages page for all the details.
- Most of our birth doulas work at the $850 level. Our owner Jessica English's doula fee is $1500. The basic birth doula services include phone/email/text support, two prenatal visits, lending library access, labor support at home and/or in the hospital (however long your birth lasts), backup doula support, and one postpartum visit.
Families on WIC
- Our "Fund for All" allows us to reduce doula fees for under-resourced families who are receiving WIC. Please ask us for more info.
Ready to take the next step?
Are you starting to visualize a doula as part of your team? We'd love to connect you with one of our doulas for an interview. That initial consult is free, of course.
Our owner Jessica English and our office coordinator Tye'Ya are great doula matchmakers. If you tell us a little about your personality, your vision for your birth and anything special you're looking for in a doula, we'll check the doulas' schedules and work to find the perfect doula for you. That makes it so easy, you don't have to email a dozen doulas to find out who's available for your due date. And of course, let us know if there's a particular doula you have in mind right from the start — we'll see if her calendar is open for your birth.
Most people love the first Birth Kalamazoo doula that they meet, but if it's not your ideal match, just let us know. We can always set up a second meeting with someone else. Everyone here is committed to helping you find just the right doula to complete your team. Experience and skill set matter, but the right personality match is most important.
Working some doula magic with the rebozo during labor.