So you’re wondering — what exactly are doula prenatal/postnatal visits all about? As every doula is unique, so is the outline for visits, the number offered, content covered, and overall feel.
As a Birth Boot Camp Doula, I prefer to call these “birth plan visits” to avoid confusion with a care provider’s prenatal and postpartum appointments, which may involve clinical procedures and medical treatments.
In my packages I include up to two birth plan visits with an option of adding extra visits if needed, plus one postpartum visit. Here’s what you can expect from me…
BIRTH PLAN VISIT #1: Acquainting + Education
In the comfort of your home, at another convenient and calm location, or via video chat in some circumstances.
This depends on how far along you are when I’m hired. If early in pregnancy, we can schedule this visit during the second trimester. Before starting your childbirth classes is a nice time. If hired later in pregnancy, it’s likely that we’d visit closer to our initial consult with less time between the next prenatal visit.
What To Expect
This is when we get to know each other better and set the stage for our relationship.
I want to know how pregnancy is going so far, how you’re feeling, what worries you may have, and how I can best support you in this season of life.
Together we go over your intake form and previous birth / relevant health history (no pressure, this is a purposeful yet informal and non-clinical conversation).
I hear your desires and wishes for this birth, and how you envision it. We start unearthing stresses and fears, too.
Then we discuss options that can help you reach your goals (plus risks/benefits), and you’ll receive a binder of helpful resources along with your awesome Birth Boot Camp Supporting Arms booklet.
Oh, and a bit of “homework” (don’t worry, no one’s getting graded! This is for your own benefit and eyes only). The most substantial education you’ll receive ideally comes from a childbirth class, supplemented with your autonomous exploration of the provided resources and homework.
We may also get into:
- Healthy pregnancy habits
- Navigating hospital policies, if applicable
- Engaging in productive dialogue with your care provider
- Approaching special circumstances
- Referrals for out-of-scope practices
**Please note: this prenatal meeting is not a mini childbirth education class. If you haven’t yet taken a comprehensive childbirth class, I recommend registering for the Birth Boot Camp Comprehensive Series or another independent, immersive course.
BIRTH PLAN VISIT #2: Planning + Preparation
In the comfort of your home or other private location.
About a month before your EDD, or after you’ve completed your childbirth classes.
What To Expect
By now we’ll be well-acquainted and comfortable. You’ll have had plenty of time to have completed a childbirth education course, to have developed a pretty clear idea of your birth plan (and maybe changed your mind about one or many things — no worries, I won’t get attached!), to have done your homework (kegels, mindful nutrition, relaxation exercises, emotional self-care, squats… you’ve got this!) and to better understand your own style of response to intense sensations.
With this legwork mostly behind us, we can spend a good deal of time practicing coping measures and getting accustomed to reassuring touch and guidance. If you have a partner or other support individual who will attend your birth (especially if they’ll be hands-on), ensure they will be included at this visit.
This is a perfect time for you to experiment with some contents of my birth bag and test out comfort tools (I’ll bring your favorites to the birth). I also try to have a choice of rebozos on hand — you can pick one that appeals to you most, and this will be tucked away for your special day.
Now facing the home stretch, we address late pregnancy concerns and brush up on recognizing signs of labor. Now is the time to ask any questions you may have about the course of labor.
We cover (and possibly write or revise) your Birth Plan, which tells me who you’ve determined to fulfill which tasks in what roles; helps you brainstorm what to bring to birth; and serves as a communication tool for your birth team. If you don’t feel like you have many answers yet (or even a Plan B), not a problem — we’ll tackle it together.
We confirm logistics: birth place details, back-up contacts, when to call me in labor, ideal communication methods, etc.
**Please note: this prenatal meeting is not a complete labor rehearsal. If you don’t plan on taking a comprehensive childbirth class, I recommend upgrading this meeting to a private Comfort Measures Workshop for the most thorough education.
We may also:
- Meet the backup doula, if you feel led to do so
- Brainstorm ideas to occupy and/or include older siblings
- Begin setting up your Postpartum Plan & share thoughts on managing postpartum visitors
POSTPARTUM VISIT: Processing + Transition
In the comfort of your home.
If you have midwifery care, this visit takes place at some point after your midwife has stopped by — and usually within the first two weeks postpartum. If under OB/Gyn care, you may not see your provider until the six-week checkup. In this case I aim to meet you on the earlier side. (Of course, in either case I also check in via phone 24 hours and 72 hours after birth).
What To Expect
Often, birthing parents wish to spend time processing the birth. There’s a lot of commiseration, listening, validating, and encouragement. Many new parents also seek guidance about breastfeeding, sleep scenarios, and determining what’s normal or not without “bothering” their care provider.
You may not know what you want out of your postpartum visit ahead of time, and that’s okay. The nature of my visit is zero pressure; you need not worry about the state of your household, whether you’re wearing clean clothes, or if you’re even willing and able to stand upright. In fact, I expect to encounter quite the opposite scenario, which is totally normal.
At this point, we intend to bring our birth team relationship to a gentle close. I can refer out to specialized experts if further assistance is needed, particularly with complex infant feeding issues, postpartum mood disorder symptoms, medical inquiries, and other concerns beyond my scope as a doula.
**Please note: this visit does not replace a postpartum doula appointment. I am happy to help you formulate a simple postpartum recovery plan at this visit, or address concerns about how an existing plan is working thus far. However, implementing the plan is where the birth doula hat comes off and we venture into postpartum doula territory. Of course, you’re welcome to add on postpartum care at any time, should you decide it may better brace your postpartum journey.
While I do offer hands-on healing treatments and continued support in the postpartum doula role, a postpartum visit as your birth doula is more about checking in, reconnecting after your unforgettable birth experience, and transitioning to a beautiful new phase of life.
We may also:
- Share helpful tips with partner (if present)
- Consider signs of Postnatal Mood Disorders
- Address newborn & parenting queries
- Smooth out beginner breastfeeding quandaries
- Troubleshoot common healing & recovery issues
- Get real about postpartum intimacy