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Do I *Really* Need a Birth Doula?

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

Yes!

And no. And Maybe.

It depends. On a lot of factors. Let’s break this down in an easy way. Take a few minutes and ask yourself the following questions:


  1. What is important to you in your birth experience?
  2. Do you have a birth companion?
  3. What kind of support do you expect from your birth companion?
  4. Are they capable of giving your that support?
  5. Do they have the tools and knowledge to support you?

If you answered YES to #2 but NO to #4 and #5.  

You *might* be able to get away without a doula if you take a prenatal class that focuses on educating you and your birth companion on coping techniques, how to use them in labour, and common interventions – for example our Confident Birth Program.  You may find that your birth companion may be enough, armed with the information they have learned to help you with your answer in #1. 

If you answered YES to #2, #4, #5 you may decide to still work with a doula for one of the following reasons: 

  • I understand that my labour may be longer, and I value the idea of my partner being able to rest so that they may help me more after baby is born. 
  • My partner feels anxiety regarding whether they can be whatever I need them to be/remember it all etc, so it would be good to have knowledgeable and comforting help in addition. 

(*Research has shown that the most positive birth experiences for fathers were ones where they had continuous support by a doula or a midwife.)

  • I know that statistics show that moms have better birth experiences and less medical interventions when a doula is present

(*Although continuous support can also be offered by birth partners, midwives, nurses, or even some physicians, research has shown that with some outcomes, doulas have a stronger effect than other types of support persons.)

  • I desire a low-intervention and/or no-intervention labour and understand the skill set and assistance a birth doula provides can support those goals even further then I can alone, or solely with my birth companion. 
  • I experience anxiety with hospitals, medical equipment, etc.
  • I understand a birth doula may have other areas of help and support that they can share with me to smooth my transition into parenthood. (For example, Lactation Support)
  • I feel birth is more than just a biological event, and would like to work with someone who treats it more holistically. 

If you answered NO to #2, I would highly recommend a doula. 

If this has piqued your interest or you’d like some more questions answered, you can book a complimentary Meet & Greet with a doula from our collective today! We’ll spend about 15 minutes with you in a video chat to answer you personal questions and help you decide if we’re the right match to support you in your birth!

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

*Evidence Based Birth, “Evidence on: Doulas”, May 4, 2010, Rebecca Dekker, PhD, RN.

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Alternative Options to Pain Medications

To epidural or not to epidural… is that even the important question? 

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

Do you want an epidural?

Great!

Do you want to labour and birth without an epidural?

Great!

Do you want to wait as long as possible before getting one?  Or, get it as soon as possible?  

Regardless of your personal preferences or medical necessities, in every circumstance – the real question is ‘can I cope with this’? 

Cope with discomfort, with pain, with the pressure of being a parent, doing the right thing for me – for baby…and the list of things goes on and on….   

The birth of your baby and the labour process, is a complex, enigmatic, beautiful collision of science, faith, luck, love and transformation.  But when discussed in modern science – it is usually reduced to pain. (If I were to extrapolate further, the entire birth experience often is reduced to: whether you will tear, what gender you are having/do you have a name, and whether you will breastfeed)

And I get that.  Pain is scary.  We are also wired to want to avoid pain, just like birth – it’s human nature, so it’s no wonder it’s become such a focus of our energy.

So whether or not you want, or need, the epidural, there are so many techniques/ways of being that can help get you more comfortable and able to cope – so that birth can be more than just about the pain.

Here is a quick breakdown of some of them

  1. Breathing Techniques
  2. Visualization techniques 
  3. Relaxation techniques
  4. Using hand on manual therapies
  5. Positions
  6. Water
  7. Music 
  8. Affirmations 
  9. Education – understanding your body and also the hospital interventions
  10. An active birth companion [partner doula or otherwise] and supportive healthcare team

I want you to know these and how to use them. 

I am deeply passionate about sharing the education, training and experience that I have with you. I want to support you through one of your most vulnerable experiences. 

My hope, by doing so, is to further reduce the statistic of you calling your birth a ‘traumatic experience.’ 

Connect with me, or anyone on our team – we are all just as passionate about this!

We can talk about what your needs are and suggest what course of action we recommend based on your unique needs. 

Or, if you just want to learn these techniques – click here to learn more about our Confident Birth Program or email info@yourdowntowndoula.com!

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

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What disservice do we do to women?

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

Think about the last movie you saw that featured someone giving birth. I’m guessing there was a woman screaming, a man freaking out, and a doctor yelling “Push, push push!” 

Katherine Heigl in ‘Knocked Up’

Now tell me how many of your friends are terrified by the thought of giving birth? Maybe you’re included in that group!

Popular culture does a really good job propagating the culture of fear around birth. 

And that translates into our everyday lives. 

You hear negativity about birth all the time. Even friends who haven’t had kids say things like “oh, you’ll be screaming for the meds” or “are you ready for your body to be destroyed”. 

I remember in my first maternal and newborn care class, so many of my friends whispered to each other during lecture about how scared they were.

I was scared too – how could I block out all that negativity?

But those lectures taught us about physiology. About how pregnancy is not a medical condition, it’s normal. 

This drove me to look further, to learn more.

So, I dove head first into the birth world. Reading books, articles, watching videos. This led me to a doula training. Everything confirmed what I learned in those first lectures.  

Birth doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t even have to be painful! 

My education and understanding of physiology took away my fear. 

It also got me incredibly excited! I NEEDED to learn how to help parents achieve empowering birth experiences.

This lead me to HypnoBirthing. This training taught me techniques that help parents remain calm and relaxed. Techniques that work WITH our physiology, to facilitate empowering birth regardless of circumstances. 

How we view things matters. 

So, that crazy pop culture birth scenario doesn’t have to be my experience. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s experience. 

The more I go to births, the more I see how beautiful these moments could be. Labour can be a sacred space. Parents can connect with each other and welcome their babies into warm, nurturing environments. 

All of these experiences have completely change my outlook about birth. Now, I look forward to becoming a mother and naturally birthing my baby. There is no more fear.

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

Resources for a Calm & Confident Birth

Confident Birth Prenatal Class

Hypnobirthing Classes

What Services Do We Offer?

Are Prenatal Classes Necessary?

Prepared Partners Mini Doula Course

Book a Free 15 Minute Virtual Meet & Greet

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Are Prenatal Classes Necessary?

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND

Yes! Yes! A resounding YES! 

You are setting yourself up for failure if you don’t take a prenatal class.  

(I know that sounds harsh, but this is too important of a topic to tiptoe around.)

I know what you’re thinking: “Well of course you would say that, you teach prenatal classes!”  True! But, why do I teach them? 

Because I truly believe that a GOOD prenatal class is the #1, (yes, NUMBER 1) factor that leads to improved satisfaction surrounding birth. And I’d argue satisfaction with your birth experience is pretty important. 

Here’s why this really matters:

About 1 in 4 people who have given birth in the UK, and 1 in 3 in the US, describe their birth as traumatic. (Unfortunately, we don’t have stats in Canada). Not just hard, not just tiring, long or painful, but TRAUMATIC.  The birth of your baby should not be a traumatic experience! Even if there are unexpected circumstances, you should not come away from your birth feeling traumatized. It has always been my goal to reduce this statistic. 

Knowing this, It honestly shocked me to learn that only 50% of pregnant families in the GTA take prenatal classes.  But, I understand why this happens. 

  1.  You’ve been told childbirth is unpredictable and the doctor will “tell you what to do”.


Yes, birth is unpredictable. And yes, your doctor can tell you what to do, but is this how you want to experience birth?  In an effective prenatal class you learn techniques that help you cope with the marathon that labour can be.  Being prepared means you have the tools and skills to cope, even when unexpected things arise.  Each birth is indeed a unique and individual experience, and yet, there is a benefit to knowing what to generally expect and what to do.  Even explorers had a compass to navigate unknown lands.  

Your OB is definitely an important resource but they don’t arrive until the baby is literally ready to be born. Unless there are complications. (I like to say a birth is going well when you barely see the OB). You will have some assistance from the nurse but their primary role is to perform regular medical checks of you and the baby. Your birth is likely to progress normally, which means you and your partner are largely on your own: first labouring at home, then making your way to the hospital, then waiting in triage to be assessed, and then continuing in the labour and delivery room. 

It is very possible that some of the recommendations from your nurses and even your OB will not be evidence based. Many things are simply hospital policy or individual bias of the care provider. Did you know that on average it takes about 20 years (yup) for policy to catch up to current evidence. The unfortunate reality is that the onus is on you to come armed with knowledge, questions and the ability to advocate for yourself and your baby. 

  1. “I’m going to get an epidural, so I don’t need to prepare or learn coping skills”

In the movies: Water breaks. Rush to hospital. Get an epidural. Aaah, relief.

In reality: Early labour may last days. You get to the hospital triage and wait for a long time before getting assessed. Hopefully you didn’t arrive too early (or you’ll be waiting some more). Eventually you get to your labouring room and you request an epidural. If it’s a busy time (labour and delivery is the busiest place in the hospital), you may be waiting up to a couple hours more. Very occasionally, the epidural doesn’t work.  Or, your labour is progressing so quickly that there is no time to get an epidural. 

No one seems to tell you that you may be in labour for a long time before you get an epidural. So if getting an epidural is your only “coping” mechanism, you’ll be in for a rough ride. 

Learning comfort measures and relaxation exercises for labour and birth is not just for those wanting a natural birth. Learning these things gives you tools you can use in any birth situation which increases your chance for a positive birth experience. 

Read more here → Quick Tips on Having a more Comfortable Labour 

  1. “I’ve heard that hospital classes are not very useful.” 

“I can’t find one that works with my schedule”. 

“I’d rather have just the information that applies to me and my birthing situation and preferences”  


I get it, you have access to all the information you could ever dream of on the internet. However, it takes time to filter through all of it and do you even know what to look for? If you’ve never given birth before, how will you know what “method” to learn? What if someone who has supported many families in a range of birth situations was able to teach you the inside tips and tricks to help you feel calm and confident during labour and birth. Yes, being calm and confident during childbirth is entirely possible! In fact I believe that every pregnant person DESERVES to be calm and confident during this very important life changing event! 

If group classes and their schedules don’t work for you – consider a private prenatal program. I’ve noticed that clients seem to get more out of private classes because I’m able to individualize information. Clients also love that the classes are scheduled around their convenience. 

  1. Birth has basically been a terrifying mystery your whole life.

    I remember the initial joy I had when learning about birth in medical school.  I finally understood what goes on, from implantation, pregnancy and birth.  It resonated with me, my intuition, it was normal – I didn’t have to be afraid of it.  My education empowered me. However,  the joy was quickly followed by frustration.  Why did it take a medical degree to learn this, why didn’t I know in my prime “child bearing age” anything about birth outside of the dramatized ER births on television. 

Most people are very afraid of giving birth, and don’t really want to think about it. But knowledge truly is power. If you understand what you body is doing during labour, how the muscles work, how your baby is working with you then you can learn how to work with your body and not against it.   

Read more here → How Can My Partner Prepare for My Birth? 

Ok, so prenatal classes are essential for a positive birth experience. But how do you figure out which class to take? Not all classes are equal – do your research. For your convenience I’ve created the following checklist:

Will your prenatal class include ALL of the following? 

  • Ends when you are 37 weeks pregnant or earlier
  • Teaches and practices in-class practical relaxation exercises that you can use
  • during labour (helpful for after birth too!)
  • Teaches your partner how to be a GREAT birthing partner
  • Covers stages of labour and birth from a non-fear based approach
  • Covers the birth plan in an evidence-based approach so you feel educated and empowered about what to
  • expect and how to manage labour and childbirth
  • Includes a workbook with exercises to help you prepare mentally and emotionally
  • Includes additional resources such as audio recordings, videos and props
  • Allows you to contact the instructor directly in case you have any questions or concerns
  • Treats birth as a physical and emotional experience and not simply a textbook reading assignment. 
  • Celebrates the miracle and power of pregnancy and childbirth!

If you’re on a budget, the City of Toronto has a free online prenatal class here “Welcome to Parenting”

Yes, that’s right, I’d rather you take ANY prenatal class, even if it’s not mine. 

However, I and another birth-loving ND’s and doula colleagues, have created our Confident Birth Prenatal Program specifically from our experiences as mothers who have given birth, and as doulas who have supported birthing families. From our many years working in this area, we observed and listened. The result?  A prenatal program that meets all the criteria above. And as the name implies, you WILL feel more confident and prepared for childbirth. 

Learn more about the Confident Birth Prenatal Program

I want families to feel empowered, calm and confident. Getting educated and having resources helps.  I teach and work with families because I LOVE sharing all the wonderful, interesting, mind-blowing things that your body does in labour and how you can help it do its job easier.  

We’re so passionate about helping families get a positive start to parenthood through positive birth we offer not just one but two different prenatal programs! 

Confident Birth Prenatal Program

HypnoBirthing – The Mongan Method Program

Would you like to learn more about how a doula and naturopathic doctor can support you in pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum? Click here to book a free 15 min Meet and Greet today! 

** Your prenatal class with a naturopathic doctor may be eligible for coverage by your work benefits/ health insurance plan. Inquire with us today! 

Dr. Olivia Chubey, ND