I had the wonderful experience of speaking with Brooke Volpe, Doula and Mid-Wife student from Solace Birth Services. I’m happy to share a Q & A I shared with Brooke who serves as a Lehigh Valley Doula and Bucks County Doula.
What drew you to being a doula?
When I got pregnant with my first child, I had a vision of what I wanted my birth to look like. So I started googling….”Water birth near me….”
I landed at a Bucks County birth center in Huntingdon valley. I fell into midwifery care before I knew that’s what I wanted.
I started reading a book called “Gentle Birth Choices” by Barbara harper, which solidified my choices and what I didn’t want. A dear friend of mine at the time told me she had doulaed her sister in laws birth and offered her support. Fast forward, she was present at both of my births, and I started preparing myself by studying to begin my career in birth work.
What made you know that becoming a doula and helping other women through pregnancy was your calling?
My midwife told me it was a calling that was hard to ignore, and she was right. So I answered the call and felt comfortable in this work. I get along with everyone and can find ways to connect with people, so once that bond is formed, the trust is, too, and they would invite me to be in their intimate space in labor and birth. So much support comes from knowing what is normal and what someone is hoping for in labor, understanding their options, and guiding them to come together.
Where is Solace Birth Services located? Do you have an office, or do you exclusively travel?
Solace Birth Services is located in Perkasie which is in Bucks County, PA. I am taking my doula hat off as I study for midwifery and will be offering home birth midwifery to our community in 2024. I am actively finding us a home in this immediate area, so follow along to see where we land. We have great things planned in a collective community model.
How long have you been a doula? What kind of experience have you gained in this field?
I have been a doula since 2016 and have attended about 230 birth as of today.
My experiences include hospitals, birth centers, and home births. I have learned a lot with that experience as I scale down to one location. I prefer home birth and appreciate it’s not the best option for some. I have learned what birth yields as far as needs. Some births are straightforward and fast, while others are hard and long and require tools to help it along, like epidurals or surgery. There is a time and place for all of it; it’s just unfortunate because these tools in the hands of burnt-out providers can be abused and overused without repercussion to them but can leave someone feeling robbed of their birth experience. Bucks county has a unnecessarily high cesarean rate.
Do you have children of your own? If so, what were their birth stories?
I have two children and had two vaginal, unmedicated births with both of them. I ended up in a higher risk category for unknown reasons, but I had intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy with both. My first was born in a hospital setting with my midwife, doula, and husband, and my second was born in a birth center with the same team—both different experiences but beautiful and full of support. Knowing what I do now, I definitely would change some of the things that happened, but what knowledge I had then from what I was able to gather, process, plan, and learn was incredible and different from the many experiences I knew.
If you could give an expecting mom one piece of advice, what would it be?
Assess your risk – if you are healthy and low risk, please opt for midwifery care. Understand that hospitals are not created the same; the #1 risk is the doors you enter to have your baby. I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but it’s true.
Leapfroggroup.org publishes hospital statistics, showing how hospitals vary in outcomes. The main difference is providers and how they choose to practice. Sure, insurance and liability can guide some of that.
Consider an out-of-hospital birth location if you have no plans to use epidurals or need extra surveillance in labor/birth.
Educate yourself with an out-of-hospital birth class.
Lastly, I wish you the best in meeting your baby.
It’s a fantastic experience becoming a parent. I never knew who I was until I was a mom.
If you are interested in documenting your Maternity and Newborn journey, I can help you. You’ll never regret having these precious moments captured before they are gone. As a Mom to 4 little girls, I know how fast it goes.
Photos were taken by BreeIsForBeauty Photography, a Lehigh Valley + Bucks County Maternity, Newborn and Family Photographer at her studio located in Center Valley, PA.