Michigan Doula: Establishing Rapport

The following is based on a phone interview with Marta Lugo Rodriguez, a new doula with CHASS Center in Detroit, Michigan.

One of the feelings that many women (and spouses) have when labor begins is vulnerability. The challenge for a doula who meets her client late in pregnancy, possibly during labor,  is to quickly establish rapport and provide support  to create a positive birthing experience.

Marta Lugo Rodriguez CHASS DoulaI am a doula for CHASS Center, (Community Health and Social Service Center), in Detroit, Michigan. What I do is establish relationships with the moms I service.  A lot of times, even though they’re first-time moms, some are scared, some know what they want, and some just have questions about basic information.  So depending where they’re at in their preganancy, that’s where I begin.  Even though they’re first-time moms, we’re establishing this relationship at any time during their pregnancy.  They can be in their first, second, or third trimester.  My first client was in her third trimester.

So my experience with Baby Number One has been:  I spoke with mom for the first time on the phone on a Monday, recruited mom on the phone on a Wednesday, and she had the baby on a Friday.  Just like that.  Our relationship was established over the phone until I met her.

S. Kirle 2003
S. Kirle 2003

I met mom and spouse at the labor and delivery unit at Henry Ford Hospital in downtown Detroit.  I established rapport with them in the hours we spent together.  I was compassionate with them both and  I felt the tension from the spouse and the mom while they were telling me how nervous she was.  Then I tried to ease her nerves by explaining a few simple techniques, an important one being the breathing technique which will relax mom and baby.  As I kept focusing on the mom and baby monitor, I just kept talking about her needs at that moment and making her surroundings comfortable for her.

Once the contractions began,  I asked for permission to touch her and she said, “Yes.”  Then I tried out different touching techniques where it would make her feel relaxed and comfortable.   Once I noticed that Dad was watching, I made eye contact and smiled. I asked him if he would like to assist in rubbing her back, and then I had dad involved.  It was just a matter of making eye contact, being calm, as well as trying to calm them both.  From then on, it was just breaking everything down, step by step, until baby came and everything was beautiful. Even the sun was shining.  Once the baby was here, it was just a beautiful moment, like, wow!  I know mom was happy and dad was proud.

At this point Amy, Marta’s supervisor, chimes in to say:  Marta is so humble.  You know she has a way about her that just puts people at ease. And even though she hadn’t met them, she was able to connect with them right away.  

Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter and tell us: Are you a doula? How do you establish rapport?

Marta’s interview continues tomorrow, right here.


Edited by Anna Labedzki Valenti, Intern at HealthConnect OneInterview by RoiAnn Phillips, Communications Manager with HealthConnect OneArtwork from the Chicago office of HealthConnect One



  • Donna M. Jefferson

    I think that was an awesome story. It w orked out for both the family and the doula. I will be joining a single mom as a doula for the first time. This just helped me to be relaxed for the day to come. Thank you! for posting this to encourage new doulas.

    • Marta Lugo-Rodriguez

      Hi Donna, I am so happy that my story touched you. I am so grateful that we can tell our stories. I hope that one day I will be reading your story. I send out a SHOUT, to ALL Doulas out there to begin to write their experiences… God Bless and keep up the great work! 🙂

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