Connecting expectant families with support
Some might associate doulas only with childbirth, but an Estacada resident is serving families as they navigate pregnancy and childhood.
Ashlee Ennis opened Four Seasons Doula last year. The name references her commitment to caring for families as they need assistance.
Ennis describes a doulas as professionally trained birth or postpartum partners, who provide non-medical emotional support.
"In pregnancy, there are three trimesters, and the fourth is the postpartum period," she explained. "We support families as a whole. Our tagline is navigating families through many seasons of parenthood."
Ennis is certified as a birth and postpartum doula through the Birth Arts International program.
"Since I was young, I always loved working with kids and was intrigued with birth and infants," she said.
While assisting at a birth, a doula might aid the mother with techniques to counteract the pressure from labor or otherwise help ease stress. Once the baby arrives home, the doula's work often focuses on personal care for the mother and child.
Four Seasons Doula also offers bereavement services, adoption and surrogacy services and meal preparation.
"(Services are) customizable to the family's needs," she said.
Ennis noted that she recently conducted a Facebook poll and found that 82 percent of respondents would prefer postpartum services to birth services.
"Traditionally, we associate doulas with birth. Women are needing extra care after bringing the baby home," she said.
She added that doulas also support the whole family.
"The mom is a priority, but we also focus on the other birth partner. We make it a whole team," she said.
Though many of her clients are located closer to Portland, Ennis hopes to serve more rural families and to connect them with services.
"I want to bridge the gap as a rural doula, if they have everyday questions and don't want to drive (to their medical provider) and give guidance when necessary," she said, adding that she hopes to be "a partner for birth outside of the city."
She is eager to work with all families at any stage of pregnancy, noting that her emphasis is on self-care.
"I would love people to reach out to a doula when they need extra support for birth or postpartum, so there's another support system in place," she said.