Gina Crist and Ashley Sova help make childbirth a more personal experience for pregnant women.
Many women enjoy the professional care of someone who can help them through their pregnancy and birth. Doulas work in hospitals and birth centers in conjunction with the medical staff to ensure the best birthing experience possible.
Working with a birth doula provides additional support when heading to the hospital during labor to deliver. Different women choose different birth plans for all sorts of reasons—some of those plans include the bathtub at home, and others include a hospital bed. While you should still have a proper doctor’s care during pregnancy, a birth and postpartum doula can give the physical and emotional support you need that the medical profession doesn’t provide.
This is where Ashley Sova, 29, and Gina Crist, 37, co-founders of CLEbaby, a modern pregnancy, birth, and parenting agency in Cleveland, Ohio, come in. Sova, who holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology, and Crist, who worked in software engineering before becoming a doula, want to create a holistic experience for their pregnancy and childbirth clients. Both women have had children and understand the emotions that expectant mothers go through.
“We currently offer birth and postpartum doula services, and childbirth education classes. This spring we are launching an events branch of CLEbaby,” says Sova. “We’ll host events and gatherings at some of our great local businesses, all aimed at helping expectant parents and young families stay connected to our awesome city. Becoming a parent and growing your family does not have to be the end of your social life as you know it!”
We spoke with Ashley Sova and Gina Crist to learn more about what it takes to run your own doula service.
Feather Magazine: Describe what you do.
Ashley Sova: We are ‘jills of all trades.’ We run the business end, from marketing, finance, and social media, as well as facilitate client interactions, helping connect them to our dedicated team of doulas and educators.
FM: How did you get started as a birth doula?
AS: We met through well-respected, local doula Rae Schmidt, who also served as the birth doula for our children. She was retiring at the end of the year after 17 years in the business, and she was looking to pass on her wisdom and insight about the local birthing community to women she felt were suited for the career. We trained and certified through her program, and she selflessly continues to mentor us today.
Gina Crist: After seeing how profoundly a doula’s support transformed our own births and postpartum experiences, we wanted to move this work into the mainstream in Cleveland. Families deserve to receive nonjudgmental, unwavering, knowledgeable support at such a momentous time in their lives, but they often don’t know where to start. We know that we can give them a place to start, help them navigate the process in a positive, meaningful way, and support them throughout pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, until they truly feel confident as parents.
FM: What training do you need before becoming a doula?
AS: [Gina and I] are trained through international, well-known organizations including ProDoula, Your Birth Experience and Stillbirthday. We’ve also participated in trainings
and workshops to further our knowledge on specific topics relevant to our business, such as sleep, acupressure and Rebozo (a long scarf used as a comfort measure during labor). We are always looking to continue our education as doulas, educators, and business owners. I am a certified SBD (Stillbirthday Birth & Bereavement Doula), Pre-certified ProDoula Birth and Postpartum Doula and a Precertified YBE (Your Birth Experience) Instructor.
GC: I am a Pre-certified ProDoula Birth and Postpartum Doula and a Precertified YBE (Your Birth Experience) Instructor.
FM: What advice do you give to those aspiring to be birth doulas?
AS: First, get trained through a reputable organization. I highly recommend ProDoula, because they focus not only on the practical, hands-on aspects of doula work, but also on how to develop a sustainable business and career. Secondly, find yourself a doula partner to share call time and the workload. With birth doula work, there is a high burnout rate for solo doulas because, as we all know, babies and birth happen all around the clock. Being on-call 24/7, 365 days a year is a very difficult lifestyle to lead. Sharing the call time and workload allows you to build a much more sustainable, balanced career.
Have you used a doula service or plan to? Thinking of a career as a doula? We’d love to hear about your experience! Talk to us on Twitter about it @feather_mag.