“No woman should have to give birth alone, be uninformed or unprepared.”

That conviction, inspired partly by her own first labor and delivery experience, led Cheryl Williams to establish Embracing Moms Doula and Parenting Services. Cheryl is a certified doula and a Care Net volunteer.

Doula Cheryl WilliamsA doula (DOO-luh) is not a midwife or medical provider. Instead, a doula provides guidance and support to women before and during labor. In the months before the due date a doula teaches the mother what to expect during labor and helps her develop a birth plan. Will she birth at home or in a hospital? Will she want pain medication?

A doula also will work with expectant mothers to teach “body balancing” and Spinning Babies, the latter developed by midwife Gail Tully. Focused on the physiology of birth, the lessons center on positions and techniques during labor that help move the birth along. “That means less pain and a quicker birth,” said Cheryl.

Once labor begins, the doula is available to be at the mother’s side, even if her partner is with her and especially if he is not.

“I’ve been where they are,” Cheryl said. “My first pregnancy was horrible. I didn’t know anything and the doctors didn’t explain anything.”

Cheryl worked in the banking industry for years before joining a pregnancy resource center as assistant executive director and client services director. In her seven years in that role, she saw the gap. Some clients had no one to be with them through labor and delivery.

Cheryl finished her doula certification in 2019 and struck out on her own to begin establishing Embracing Moms Doula and Parenting Services as a 501(c)3. At this point, working alone, she takes on only one client per month. Some are able to pay the full cost, and Cheryl sets aside half of those fees to cover clients who can’t afford to pay anything at all. Others pay on a sliding scale, depending on their circumstances.

“This could be lucrative, but that’s not why I do it,” Cheryl said. “My past experience working with many women facing planned and unplanned pregnancies has brought me to a great place of compassion for women who don’t have support.”