A doula is a nonmedical assistant who provides people with emotional and physical support during labor, and plenty of information, compassion, and good humor from pregnancy through the postpartum. I like to joke that if you’ve ever held someone’s hair back while they’ve thrown up, you’ve been a doula; it’s that same energy of patience, care and support that I bring to my clients. But it's more than that - my labor support draws on specialized training and many years of experience. I have experience with water birth, repositioning a breech or posterior baby, VBAC, PTSD and trauma, as well as nutritional counseling, deep relaxation, and more.
The benefits of having labor support are well documented, and include 50% reduced cesarean rates, 25% shorter labor, 60% reduction in epidural requests, 30% reduction in analgesia use, and 40% reduction in forceps delivery (source). But hiring someone to provide labor support is one piece of the puzzle. It's up to you to start off by connecting with the care provider who best supports your desires and meets your expectations, and to birth in an environment where you feel safe and supported and which has a proven record of excellent care. And, these are all things that we can explore in our conversations together so that you feel confident about your choices.
I'm a strong supporter of families laboring at home before leaving for the hospital. It allows you to spend the greatest amount of time in a place where you feel comfortable before leaving for the very different hospital (or even birth center!) environment. This is especially helpful for first time and VBAC parents.
In addition to the labor support that I've offered since 2010, as a trained midwife I can offer additional skills to help you labor at home with confidence. These including palpating your belly to determine the position of the baby, listening to the baby in labor, checking your blood pressure or pulse, and assessing dilation if desired. I do not take the place of a midwife or obstetrician, but I can provide useful information and exceptional support.
This is probably the most common question I get, and no, definitely not. In my birth support care, I work with someone’s partner to support them in labor. Your partner knows you and provides you with unparalleled love and emotional support. I know birth. What I bring is the accumulated wisdom of my knowledge of pregnancy, labor, and birth; of the different models of care and the options available to you in pregnancy; of years of teaching childbirth education; of my training in doula support, midwifery care, herbalism, and aromatherapy; of techniques for supporting very fast or very long labors, or a posterior baby, or a breech baby; of supporting people through cesarean and vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), and so on.
There are all sorts of families and couples with all sorts of expectations about how involved a partner will be, and all are okay. Practically speaking, I model physical support techniques for partners, offer a chance for them to rest, sleep, or go get a bite to eat, answer their questions, and most of all, I reinforce the normalcy of a situation. It can be very overwhelming to witness birth, and if you’ve never seen it before, then being able to ask questions in real time, or even to just look at someone’s calm smile, can significantly reduce anxiety about what’s happening.
Partners sometimes can have a hard time allowing a birthing parent to labor, wanting to step in, “do something,” and take away their “suffering” by suggesting (or even insisting on) medical interventions. I can help keep you grounded by reinforcing normalcy, by referring to your birth preferences, and by fully exploring all of the risks and benefits of the options available to you.
No. I am here to make sure that you feel fully supported in your decision making. What that means to me is that you understand the full range of options available to you for any given choice, the risks and benefits of those options, that you are able to make empowered informed choices free from duress, and that, at the end of the day, you feel confident that it was the right choice. What is right is the right choice for you.
"...[W]e particularly appreciated how Krystina worked with us for weeks with the assumption of a natural childbirth, spending time teaching us techniques, etc., but when the situation changed and it became clear that my wife and/or child might be at any risk because of circumstances beyond our control, Krystina was 100% supportive of our switching to more standard medical methods. That flexibility meant a lot to us and helped us keep from judging ourselves and our change of plans negatively." - Greg E.
Most of the people who hire me for labor support are birthing in a hospital or birth center, but families birthing at home also benefit from support. In short, a doula/monitrice plays a different role than a midwife. Midwives tend to arrive when folks are further into active labor, and their energies are best spent being attentive to the mother/parent and baby’s well-being.
Having a dedicated support person means having immediate, on-call care as early in your labor as you need. For those desiring guided relaxation or massage, that’s something that is just as valuable at home as it is in the hospital. I help to keep the space calm, to reinforce the normalcy of birth, to support the midwives in their roles, and to provide support for partners and older children. I have extensive experience attending home births and working congenially and collaboratively with midwives, and would be happy to meet your team at a prenatal appointment prior to your birth.
Yes absolutely! I am always delighted to share herbal, homeopathic, dietary, and other remedies and treatments for common pregnancy and labor challenges and which I rely on frequently in my midwifery practice. The remedies I use are safe and effective for pregnancy, and typically don’t have the side effects associated with medical treatments. Common complaints include: nausea, anemia, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, achiness, blood sugar imbalances, a breech baby, HSV, and others.
You can find a full list of kind words on my Doula Match page here.
I hired Krystina as my doula for the birth of my second child fairly early in my pregnancy, before I knew the degree to which the baggage of my first labor and delivery would affect how I felt as my due date approached. Krystina provided not only extremely helpful advice about the usual discomforts of pregnancy, like acid reflux or insomnia—she also helped me navigate the emotional aspects with great depth and sensitivity.
I felt comfortable texting or emailing about any seemingly trivial questions I had as my birth approached, and she always made time for longer phone conversations if I needed them, which I often did especially as my pregnancy dragged into its 41st week.In these conversations, Krystina bolstered my confidence and validated my feelings and made space for everything I was experiencing.
Throughout our working together, she also demonstrated her broad medical knowledge and depth of experience with a large variety of births and interventions, which gave me so much confidence that no matter how things turned out, she would know how to support me. I finally did get induced just shy of 42 weeks, and nine hours after a small dose of misoprostol (an intervention I had previously feared) my second daughter was born in the water. My husband and Krystina worked in tandem perfectly supporting me through a very challenging and intense three hours of relentless active labor, and though I had no idea it was happening Krystina also somehow managed to grab our camera and get incredible photos of the birth.
My husband and I both recommend Krystina enthusiastically and without reservation and are so thankful she was such a large part of our daughter's birth story.
Krystina did a phenomenal job for our family and we are thrilled for all the other families out there that will have her help at their births. I wanted to write this testimonial because it makes me feel good to know that by helping her connect with new clients we'll be helping others to have a comfortable, supported, meaningful birth experience. My wife and I found her working style to be a wonderful combination of calm and warm throughout every stage of the process, from pre-meetings to inform us and help us through our first-baby jitters; to her unwavering stamina, positivity and commitment throughout our 30-hour birth ordeal (don't worry you guys, our circumstances were unusually difficult, your will probably be easier!); to the continued care that was obvious in her follow-up check-ins. We also loved: Krystina is obviously coming from a religious place in her own life and comes accross as personally devout but never, ever even close to judgemental of others-- I am sure she will work with tons of wonderful Muslim families in her career but I wanted to particularly recommend her to nonreligious families like us as it might not initially be as obvious to you how skilled she will be at understanding and supporting you. I found her to be evidence-based and scientifically oriented in her approach-- both qualities that are extremely important to us. And again, she is able to combine that kind of scientific perspective with warmth. Finally, we particularly appreciated how Krystina worked with us for weeks with the assumption of a natural childbirth, spending time teaching us techniques, etc., but when the situation changed and it became clear that my wife and/or child might be at any risk because of circumstances beyond our control, Krystina was 100% supportive of our switching to more standard medical methods. That flexibility meant a lot to us and helped us keep from judging ourselves and our change of plans negatively. Highest recommendation!
Greg E., October 2016
We had a wonderful time having Krystina as our doula! She provided wisdom and support throughout the entire process. As this was our first pregnancy, we had lots of questions and we were grateful for the guidance and experience Krystina provided. She met with us a number of times in the weeks leading up to the birth. Krystina brought respectful humor to all over conversations, lightening the mood when stress and anxiety crept in. Additionally, she offered details about her own pregnancy and gave a human face to the experience, a quality that is often lacking in written materials or more formal classes.
From the beginning, Krystina made it clear that she would work to ensure our preferences were met, even when these ran counter to the procedures typically enacted in a hospital. She supported us, giving us information about steps normally taken and offered insights and guidance about which might be avoided.
Our son Henry was born at Portsmouth Regional Hospital and Krystina interacted seamlessly with our nurses and doctors. 24 hours after my water broke, I was still in early labor and needed Pitocin to move into active labor. Eventually, I was exhausted and needed an epidural to let me rest and restore my energy. Though this was not part of our initial plan, Krystina offered care and encouragement, aiding the decisions along the way. After the birth, she made it clear we could reach out to her postpartum if we had additional questions.
We cannot speak highly enough of the support Krystina offered us. A similar positive and caring attitude should be actively sought out prior to every birth and we recommend her very highly.
Thank you for everything, Krystina.
Carol G., April 2016