Yula Paluy, a Birth Doula. I work with clients in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley.
It will be my privilege to help you prepare for the birth of your baby, and to support you during labor so that your experience aligns with your values, and is as healthy and peaceful as possible. Wherever and however you plan to birth, what matters is that you feel informed, safe, and confident during this transformative time in your life.
My inspiration for becoming a doula was discovering the positive effects that doulas have on birthing experiences. Research shows that having a doula can lead to shorter labor, reduced need for medications, lower likelihood of a c-section, easier breastfeeding, and greater self-esteem1,2.
My background is in cognitive and social psychological research. I conducted research at SF State, UC Berkeley, UCSF, and Stanford, where I examined the effects of language and of shared humor on physical and emotional experience. My practice as a doula is informed by all of my training, knowledge, and skills. I keep up-to-date with best birth support techniques and with research on established and alternative medical practices. My volunteer doula experience includes work with Homeless Prenatal Project and the program at CPMC Mission-Bernal.
You should feel comfortable with the person you hire to be your doula. I suggest that we meet first in your home or in a cafe for 45 minutes or so, get to know each other, and see if we click. This is a free meeting with no strings attached, though you may offer me coffee, tea, or water, at your discretion. :)
If we decide to work together:
The short version — my service to you will include in-depth prenatal meetings, phone and email support, 24/7 on-call availability from 37 weeks on, full in-person support during active labor, and a postpartum meeting.
The services can be customized to your needs. Sliding-scale fee based on your household income.
Click here to see details!
During our prenatal meetings, we will discuss your hopes, concerns, and questions, and I will help you formulate your birth preferences. If this is your first birth, I will walk you in detail through what to expect during the different stages of labor and birth. If it's a subsequent birth, we'll talk about what worked well in previous labor(s) and how we can do better. We'll explore various approaches that are helpful in labor, such as breathing, positioning, visualization, eye and physical contact, and more.
I will be available to you by phone and email from the moment we decide to work together and for several weeks (or more) after the birth for questions, advice, and anything else that comes up.
- I will be on-call for you 24/7 from 37 weeks on.
I will accompany you in-person through active labor and for a few hours after birth until you are ready for time alone with your family. During labor, I will provide you (and, if present, your partner/close others) with continuous practical, physical, and emotional support. Part of that is making sure that everyone is hydrated, fed, and as comfortable and confident as possible. I will also act as a medical interpreter/advocate to ensure that you have full understanding of any proposed medical treatments (if they come up), and that you are able to communicate your preferences.
We will meet a few days after the birth to go over your experience and make sure you are cared for.
If you have a partner, or another support person, they’ll ideally be present during our meetings (including, if possible, the preliminary “do-we-click?” meeting), and we will plan jointly how I can best support you and them through this shared experience of preparing for and going through childbirth.
It’s important that everyone who wants to have a doula is able to afford this help. I therefore charge on a sliding scale based on Bay Area income levels. Here’s what you can expect to pay for my services of several in-depth prenatal meetings, phone and email support, being on-call 24/7 from 37 weeks on, full in-person support during labor, and a postpartum meeting:
Household income: Fee:
I have a special fund that allows me to offer doula services to those with income below $50k — if you are able to contribute, please let me know. Many thanks to those who already contributed — you make it possible! If your household income is below $50k, please get in touch with me to talk about working together (if I’m fully booked, I may be able to recommend someone else for you).
I think my circumstances may be very particular. Do you have experience supporting people in a similar boat?
Please get in touch with specifics. Generally speaking, I have supported people in a wide variety of circumstances, including: first, second, third, and fourth timers, VBAC, IVF, people going through cesarean birth, queer parents, solo parents, birthing parent over 50, people who don't speak English, people with pregnancy-related health conditions, people with a history of gynecological procedures, pregnancy loss, trauma, psychological difficulties, and more. I’m open to supporting any and all people.
Do you have a back-up doula? Will I like the back-up doula? Can I meet one or two of the back-up doulas?
I don’t take many clients so the likelihood of me having to call on a back-up doula is very low. For emergency back-up, I can turn to several lovely doulas. If you like me, chances are you will like them. If you don’t like me, you should hire a different doula :)
Typically, meeting a back-up doula is not included, but if it’s important to you we can find a way to do that with appropriate compensation for the back-up doula(s).
I’m planning to birth at hospital X or birth center Y. Do you have experience working there?
I’ve supported clients birthing at the following Bay Area places: in SF - UCSF, Kaiser SF, CPMC Mission-Bernal (St. Luke’s), SF Birth Center, SF General; in the East Bay - Alta Bates, Kaiser Oakland; in Marin - Marin General; on the Peninsula - Mills-Peninsula. I have a doula bag full of goodies, and both the bag and I are ready to adapt to any environment. (Please note that like many doulas I do not work at CPMC Van Ness, but I would be happy to support you in exploring better alternatives, like CPMC Mission-Bernal or UCSF or SF Birth Center.)
I haven’t yet decided where to birth. Can you help me choose the right place for me?
Yes, happy to. If I’m your doula, it’s part of the package. If I’m not your doula, you can hire me as a consultant to answer this and other questions. Birth locations do differ, and it’s a good idea to think this decision through if you can and if your insurance doesn’t restrict you.
I know that you go on 24/7 call at 37 weeks. What happens if my labor starts before 37 weeks?
I will make every effort to be there but because of prior commitments I may be slightly more likely to call on a back-up doula. Either way you will be supported!
Do you do postpartum doula work beyond the one postpartum visit that’s part of your package?
With rare exceptions, no. The rare exceptions are when my birth clients are in a bind and really need some help for a bit, and then I try to help until they find a good postpartum doula.
Do you know if my planned birthing location is supportive of doulas?
Bay Area hospitals, birth centers, and homebirth midwives tend to be supportive of doulas because they know that research demonstrates better birth outcomes and greater satisfaction with the birth experience with a doula present. If you encounter the rare medical provider who is dismissive of your preference for doula support, it might make sense to switch to a different OB or midwife :)
What are your thoughts about placenta consumption?
Research that examined the effects of placenta consumption found no benefits. No increased iron1, no better milk quality or quantity2, no improvement in mood, bonding, or fatigue3,4. In addition, consuming placenta may pose risks to the baby5,6. I agree with this take.
Do you do birth photography?
If you want a few pictures of your labor, birth, or the immediate postpartum, I'm happy to take them.
Will my insurance cover the doula fee?
Some people are able to get reimbursed for the doula fee through their HSA, FSA, or HRA. You will likely need a Letter of Medical Necessity from your doctor or midwife, which isn't difficult to obtain. Please ask your insurer for more information.
Do you have ideas for a baby name?
Yes, but I keep them to myself :) It’s your birth and your baby (or babies if you're having multiples), and you should give the tiny person a name that feels right to you.
Bay Area and Online
.UCSF Laughter Yoga class or UCSF Laughter Yoga + Meditation class free fun classes! :o)
.Hypnobirthing Audio Tracks: free on the Internet Archive
.Contraction Timing App: simple and free
.Natural Resources SF: classes and resources
.Then Comes Baby Oakland: classes and resources
.Safebabydoula: expert baby car seat installation (if you don’t have time or don’t want to do it yourself)
.Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong--and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster (mostly on point)
.Cribsheet by Emily Oster (helpful for decisions after your baby is born)
.HypnoBirthing: The Natural Approach to Safer, Easier, More Comfortable Birthing by Marie Mongan (tedious but useful, especially 2nd half)
.Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin (many find the 2nd half helpful)
.Doula!: An intimate documentary filmed in England showing three doula-supported births
.Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret: A somewhat mistitled documentary (ecstatic birth would’ve been better), but still a nice touch
.Microbirth: A documentary that charts the origins and importance of the human microbiome - informative if a bit overblown
.The Business of Being Born: A documentary exploring obstetrics and midwifery, doubles as an ad for home-birth :)