Who is Richmond Doulas: Donna Westcott

Doula Spotlight
Donna Westcott CPBD
Richmond Doulas Social Media Officer


Services: Birth Doula; Acupressure; Rebozo
Years in Business: 4
Max clients per month: 2
Clients served: 28

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What drew you to doula work?

I went to childbirth education classes at A Brighter Birth and found my doula through them.  Her help was invaluable to my husband and me. Even with an unsupportive environment during my first birth, I felt a difference. I’m pretty sure my doula helped me avoid a cesarean. After my second birth I was hooked on anything birthy: books, research, everything. The more I learned, the more I realized that doulas helped to improve birth. Plus, they were there supporting families in such incredible moments. It really is amazing and humbling to be invited to such intimate times.

What did your own births teach you?

Like I mentioned earlier, my first experience wasn’t as great as it could have been. It was a very unsupportive environment. My husband and I always had this image of women who have out-of-hospital births or home births as, I don’t know, hippy, I guess. But then my sister-in-law started talking about wanting a home birth and that’s when we realized all sorts of women have out-of-hospital births.

Anyway, so I started really looking around after that and learning what my options were. I had my second in a birth center and the difference was astounding.

I think that taught me—and everyone should remember this—to not be afraid to change providers. So many people think you’re stuck with whoever you first choose, but you’re the customer! You get to decide where you give birth and with whom.

What other services do you offer?

I also offer acupressure and rebozo services to all my clients. One acupressure session is included with my doula package, but is also available a la carte.

How would an a la carte acupressure service work?

Well, let’s say a mom wants acupressure to help at the end of pregnancy or during labor, but doesn’t necessarily want a doula, I would provide that service when she needed it. Or if another doula wanted to tap me in as a resource for that, I can provide acupressure for her clients when they needed it.

The a la carte acupressure package is available after 36 weeks.

What did you do before becoming a doula?

I was an educator. I used to teach at a homeschooling/Christian academy. After my second I stayed at home for about fourteen months.

What would you tell someone who is an aspiring doula?

Well, family support is important. I’m so lucky that my husband and children support me so much. It helps when I need to leave for a birth. The job can be demanding.

Also, I think it’s important for new doulas to remember that these are not your births. Any feelings you may have on what is “best,” has to be tucked away. You support unconditionally and without judgment. That’s the only way to make this work.

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Do you think doula training should be mandatory? What if someone felt they had enough experience or were just a “natural” regarding support?

Mandatory? I don’t know. I do think it’s very important, though. It helps not just with teaching future doulas techniques and all that, but it also teaches the business aspects and accountability. Training explains the scope of a doula. Sometimes people throw the word around and haven’t had training, but then begin doing clinical tasks. Doulas aren’t supposed to cross the line into clinical procedures or tasks, even if it may seem like harmless advice. Our job is to support and educate, not make decisions or recommendations. Going to doula training helps you know exactly what is out of your scope and what is well within it.

What about advice for moms-to-be?

I guess, “breathe.” It works for every stage; pregnancy, labor, the postpartum. Also, prioritize your needs. Women tend to care for those around them and forget about themselves. Take a nap! Nap whenever possible.

Do you have any words for our fathers-to-be?

I feel like some partners are a little intimidated or afraid of being replaced by a doula. That’s not what happens at all. Our job is to complement the birthing team, not replace anyone there. Not only that, but we’re there to support the father as well. Of course, mom is priority, but dad is very important, too.

I like to remind them to be there, be present, in whatever way is right for their family. I’ve witnessed beautiful births where dad labored with mom, stepped out for the birth, and came back a bit after the baby arrived. It was exactly how they both wanted it. What is right for one couple isn’t necessarily what is right for another.

And don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid in expressing your love for her in labor. Don’t be afraid of dirty diapers. Don’t be afraid of holding your baby. Don’t be surprised if you find that you love each other differently. And don’t be afraid of watching the birth! So many men get told, “Oh, dude, don’t look, whatever you do!” And birth is hyped up as this really gross, traumatizing thing, but it’s not. If you feel like watching the birth of your child, by all means, watch. It’ll amaze you, I promise.

Doulas give so much of themselves on a regular basis. What do you do for self-care?

Oh, don’t we! Well, first, boundaries. I had to learn how to set up realistic boundaries for everything, birth related or not. After long births, I like Epsom salt baths. Or mani-pedis. Or, if the stars align, sleeping in….or really, not getting out of bed. That doesn’t usually happen, though.

Are you glad you are a part of Richmond Doulas?

Absolutely. It’s a great way to network, to swap ideas, and have resources at your fingertips. I really want to encourage all doulas in the area, new or experienced, to think about joining. It’s a great network.

What do you do for fun?

I’m a bit of an introvert, to be honest, so I like quiet nights in most of the time. I do like the occasional girl’s night out, though.