By: Alexis Harborth
Sarah Bethel has an unpredictable schedule – it comes with the territory when you’re helping expectant mothers give birth. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I talk to all of my clients about an on-call period, which starts two weeks before their expected due date till the baby arrives,” she says. “Sometimes we have lead time, when contractions are starting to come on; sometimes I get a call in the middle of the night. It’s my absolute favorite thing to get that call that it’s time to have the baby.”
Bethel, a Portland native, is the mother of two children. After the birth of her younger, she was introduced to the world of birth workers. “I was seeking postpartum support after my second and learned a lot about doulas. Within six weeks into my postpartum, I started diving into becoming a doula. I felt a calling to it immediately, and saw a need for it in our community, too.”
A doula is a person with formal training who supports an individual through significant health occurrences, such as pregnancy and delivery.“There’s a range of doula specialties,” Bethel explains. “Most commonly, you’ll hear a doula being referred to specifically for pregnancy and labor support, but there are also postpartum doulas, those who specialize in fertility or in high-risk pregnancies, and more. There is quite a variety.”
It’s these milestones of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum life that inspired the name of Bethel’s business. “I decided to name the company Milestone Doulas because I wanted to create a foundation; regardless of what stage of the journey you are in, you have someone who can be there along the way. Whether someone is ready to start trying, is already pregnant, ready to give birth, working on a second child – whatever it is, there is always an opportunity for you to have support.”
Milestone Doulas, which began in 2018, offers doula labor services, postpartum services, breastfeeding support and counseling, labor and birth photography, and education. Bethel offers a continuum of doula care surrounding birth to ensure women can get everything in one place.
“Having that consistency or care – that consistency of trust – is important,” she says.
Coastal Bend moms can take comfort in knowing that the continuum hasn’t stopped during the pandemic. While COVID-19 has altered many aspects of life, you can still access all of Bethel’s services. She has both virtual and safe in-person services for antepartum and postpartum sessions, and noted that area hospitals have permitted doulas in the delivery room.
Bethel is trained in many soothing and comforting tactics during labor and delivery, from focusing and breathing exercises to massage. Doulas are helpful to control any external factors possible to create a comfortable environment and birthing experience.
“I don’t think there’s ever a time where it’s too early or too late,” she says. “From before you’re pregnant to even if you’re 38 weeks or more and ready to pop, please still give me a call.” Bethel encouraged reaching out to talk with her; you can learn more during a free consultation, which can be done long before that visit to the delivery room or afterward.
“While the laboring and birthing experience [is important], I want to encourage families also to spend just as much time on the postpartum experience. Just as much of a plan is needed for postpartum.”
For Bethel, being a doula is much more than a profession – it’s a calling. “It is such a joy to support people while they are going through a very exciting time and growing their families.”