by Whitney Parchman
In 2015 neighbors Jen Gold, Lauren Elliott and Lindsay Monroe became fast friends while in the throes of caring for their young children. They shared labor and delivery stories between carting their kids to various activities and navigating life as new moms.
They reflected on the challenges of transitioning into postpartum life. Through this sharing they realized women weren’t hearing and talking enough about the birth process. They also saw a deficit in resources for women who wanted to make educated decisions.
Fast forward to May 2018 when this trio of moms-turned-doulas opened the Birth Boutique.
Established in the vibrant and family-friendly Oak Park Arts District, the Birth Boutique provides childbirth and postpartum doula services, professional photography, a lending library and classes for expectant and new parents and a thoughtful collection of retail items perfect for gift giving.
Doulas are more than just birth companions or coaches. They’re professionals trained to provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support to mothers before, during and after childbirth. Doulas provide these support measures so families feel empowered to advocate for themselves.
Says Gold, “There are so many options when it comes to birth and postpartum. We want to pro- vide women with as much information as we can to enable them to make the best decision for themselves. Ultimately the decisions are yours and should reflect what is best for you and your family.”
The popularity of doulas has increased over the years, however, there are still lingering miscon- ceptions about their role. People often assume doulas are only for home and/or unmedicated births. In reality, the majority of births attended by Gold, Elliott and Monroe take place in the hospital. Of those births about half require some type of medical intervention.
Regardless of what type of birth a woman plans, the consistency of doula support provides com- fort and positive outcomes in potentially stressful circumstances. Many women see a variety of medical care providers throughout their pregnancies. It’s difficult to predict who will be on call when a woman goes into labor.
States Elliott, “There’s comfort knowing the person next to you. They’re there to help you in whatever way you need at any given moment. You won’t receive that attention without a doula.”
The underlying philosophy at the Birth Boutique is that support is available no matter what kind of birth you’ve planned. This support also extends beyond birth into postpartum. According to Monroe, “We have an incredible line-up of free community workshops for families to learn, grow and connect with others.”
When asked why she was drawn to the role of doula Elliott replies, “I was fortunate to have a doula by my side for my first birth. She made me realize that I have the power within myself to do anything. From that moment on, I knew I needed to support women in the way that my doula supported me.”
For more info on the Birth Boutique check out their website. For convenient and up-to-date info on their free community workshops and to view a sampling of their beautiful photography follow them on Insta- gram @thebirthboutique. Welcome them to the neighborhood in person at 128 Harrison Street right here in the Oak Park Arts District.