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 birth 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.
"We wanted to hire a birth doula because we are first time parents and knew that having someone to support us throughout the entire birth would help us feel more at ease, and it did! Nicole is so down to earth and an incredible listener and advocate. We could tell from our first meeting that she’s just the kind of person who meets you where you’re at.
Prenatally she made sure any lingering questions about the entire process of birth were addressed and she walked us through so many scenarios and types of experiences we might encounter. That mental and emotional preparation helped a lot. During the birth Nicole offered so much in terms of both physical and emotional support. She was easy to be vulnerable with which is really a wonderful trait since it can be such a vulnerable experience! She constantly checked in on both me and my partner to make sure we had what we needed at every moment and stepped up at all the right moments to advocate for me, make sure I knew what was happening, and remind me of my goals. We can’t imagine what it would have been like without her.
Nicole is so intuitive and supportive. She’s an incredibly steady and calming presence at what can feel like a very wild and chaotic moment. If you’re looking for someone to help you feel those things during birth, Nicole is where it’s at. We hope to have more children and plan to ask Nicole to be our doula again. We are so grateful we had the chance to have her with us during birth!"
Erin Decker, with Ryan and Emerson
"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
"I cannot say enough good things about Jayni. She was incredibly supportive through my whole end of pregnancy, labor and delivery. She really helped me keep all my options in mind at all times and reminded me that everything was my choice. I gave birth at 41 weeks and 4 days and I was really feeling pushed towards an induction, so I really appreciated having Jayni remind me that I had options. As far as physical support goes, she pretty much massaged my back for five hours with a smile on her face, she helped me get into different positions to keep my labor moving. She knew exactly what to say to pull me back when the contractions were getting on top of me. She helped engage my husband in my coping techniques. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone, she was a wonderful addition to my birth experience.”
Gloria Mumford, with Cecily
"When we got pregnant during the pandemic, I knew our labor and postpartum would look different from others. I wasn't sure what support I would be able to have either during labor or when we came home, but knew I wanted someone who had experience and could help us new parents through the process. We initially met Teresa via Zoom and she was a calming, bright presence. We felt supported and listened to during those initial talks. We felt even better about our decision as she visited our home and loved our senior dog, who is a vital part of our family unit. In the time leading up to labor, Teresa was supportive as we talked through our options prior to an induction. She helped me to build out my list and alternatives so I felt that I could confidently advocate for myself and my baby. Our labor was a long week of multi-day induction, many hours of labor, and a medically necessary c-section. Through it all, Teresa was our constant. In that time, we went through seven shift changes of providers and that led to many conversations on our status and our desires. Each time, we felt confident in having these discussions because we had talked through our plan with Teresa. When it was time to talk about a c-section, Teresa explained the steps of what to expect. She gave me the confidence to trust my intuition and listen to what my body and baby were telling me. My very favorite part of our labor was that Teresa provided our birth story with all the details and sweet things that were said. My husband and I had no semblance of time or order of things, but now we have this precious keepsake to revisit."
Laurel Clark, with Joe and Charlotte
"I hired a birth doula because I wanted the extra reassurance during delivery. I wanted someone who would be advocating for ME & making sure my plan was executed and that I was understanding of everything that was going on and being asked of me in the moment(s). After talking with Desireé I knew she was THE ONE! She was so personal and down to earth. She paid attention to me and what I wanted. She shared her personal experiences with me which helped. Desireé sent me information to reference when I'd reach out to her with questions or concerns. This being my first child and not knowing what to really expect during labor/delivery, she made me feel comfortable. When I was admitted into the hospital for an induction, Desireé stayed in constant communication with me. She allowed me to "call upon her when I was ready," and when I gave her the "I'm ready signal" she was at the hospital instantly it seemed! She made sure I was comfortable. She listened to what I had told her previously about how I wanted my experience to be and she brought it to existence. She knew what I needed at each moment. When I felt like I couldn't do it, she was there re-assuring me that I could. She also allowed for my mom to be in the moment also, offering her suggestions to help sooth me during the delivery. I felt the peace and calmness that I had expressed that I wanted. She had the candles, dim lights — it was a perfect atmosphere. Desireé WILL be my FOREVER doula if I have future children. She was my biggest cheerleader. She supported me silently and out loud! Desireé brings about a calm approach. She listens. She gives resources for your personal reference so you can make the best choice for YOU! Desireé will ensure you have the birthing plan of your choice, and if plans must alter, like mine did, she still tries to give you everything you want to ensure you have the delivery you've expressed. Desireé is still a great support for me even after having my son almost 4 months ago. She'll forever be a part of us!"
Jamara White, with Ji’Ayre
Jaclyn Raab, with her baby boy
"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, with Adalie
"My midwife highly recommended a doula for our home birth. As soon as I met my doula, I knew I wanted her to be at my birth. 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. My doula 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 our doula was the first one to come and labor with me. She 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. My doula 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 she 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
"I was in labor for 36 hours and went through four nurses, so it was nice to have Desireé there the whole time. One thing I liked about her is that she’s open to anything. She was taking pictures, she held the FaceTime call for the dad since he wasn’t able to be there. She helped me with different positions to get into. My baby was turned the wrong way, and she helped her turn the right way and I was able to have a natural birth. Everyone else, I didn’t want them to touch me or talk to me at all, but I didn’t have that energy toward Desireé at all. She advocated for me – one of the nurses came in and her perfume smelled so bad, and Desireé asked if we could get a new nurse or if she could change her scrubs. If I have another baby, I would want her there. I tell people all the time that if she wasn’t there, I feel like me and my baby wouldn’t have been as healthy as we were, because my birth was such a struggle.
Desireé just has a really calming energy and she wasn’t too much, she didn’t overwhelm me. She helped me in any way that she could, even just the simplest things like taking pictures, and she was great to talk to. She seems really experienced, and she also has her own personal experience with her own kids. Desireé talked with me about my options because I really wanted to do a natural birth, and about 20 hours in I needed to start medication, and she just talked to me and told me it was going to be okay. Everyone should have Desireé at their birth!"
Ella Cavey, with Alani
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 families who want everything natural. We love those all-natural home births, but we also love supporting parents who are experiencing high-risk situations and need a high-tech delivery. And we have plenty of clients who just know from the beginning that they want medication. Your priorities are the ones that matter. Things come up, plans can change, and babies are born in all sorts of ways. Doulas make all births better, and everyone deserves a doula.
Hey, 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 rigorous, in-depth, hands-on and... well, legit. To maintain certification, our doulas also need to stay up to date with continuing education. (Some other "certifying" organizations just certify a doula for life after a short training, without any documented hands-on experience and without the requirement for long-term continuing education. That's not for us.) DONA International has 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.
A note on Covid-19 vaccination:
Bronson Hospital (Kalamazoo and Battle Creek) requires that all doulas attending births at their facility are fully vaccinated. All of our doulas currently supporting families meet that criteria, so you can be reassured that your doula won't be turned away from the hospital. We're happy to support all families and don't ask about your vaccine status as part of our support. But feel free to ask us all the questions!
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. We are currently working to get our doulas approved by Medicaid to offer services to beneficiaries — stay tuned.
In addition to our typical rates below, we sometimes have a newer doula on the team who is offering services for $750. Please ask if this would make doula support more possible for your family.
- 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 $1200 level. Our owner Jessica English's doula fee is $1600. The basic birth doula services include phone/email/text support, two prenatal visits, lending library access, 24/7 on-call availability, 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 fees for under-resourced families who are receiving WIC. Twelve times a year, we offer birth doula services or 20 hours of postpartum support at the rate of $400 for qualifying families.
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 Sarah 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 means 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.