TOWNSEND -- Teresa Coyle Airey, founder of Townsend's Peaceful Birth and Beyond, believes birth should be about choice and community.
"Birth is different for every person. The biggest part of what I do is education. It's about understanding what your options are so you can make your own decisions," Coyle Airey said.
Peaceful Birth and Beyond offers doula services, lactation counseling and mother support groups from her office on Townsend's Main Street.
Coyle Airey describes a doula as a guide and companion to help women through the process of pregnancy, labor and early motherhood.
"If you just go to the hospital, they don't really labor with you. A doula stays through the whole birth, does home visits during pregnancy, gives you education and resources about nutrition and staying healthy," she said.
Though she's been in the 241 Main St. building for about a year, Coyle Airey just moved into a larger office on the building's main floor this summer.
She said doulas are very uncommon in this part of the state.
"There's not a lot of awareness in this area of doula services, and I'm trying to build that awareness," she said.
Coyle Airey said she does not advocate any type of birth in particular, but encourages women to learn what options they have.
"I like to meet with clients and find out what their questions and wishes are. I don't tell them how they should birth.
The business also offers lactation counseling. Coyle Airey said breast feeding is a learned behavior, and it's important to be taught how.
Although she's only had office space for 15 months, she has made house calls as a doula for years, and has served hundreds of clients.
Though the job requires unpredictable hours and lots of traveling, as she is always on-call, Coyle Airey, a mother of four and grandmother of two, said her passion for motherhood and women's health make work as a doula fulfilling.
The role of a doula is an extremely old profession, and the lack of doulas in the United States is unusual compared to the rest of the world, Coyle Airey said.
"In Europe everyone has a doula. We've become such an individualized society now," she said.
Coyle Airey also offers free consultations for those looking for more information, as well as a series of free workshops beginning in October.
On Oct. 5 at 10 a.m., Maia Wentrup, a licensed massage therapist who shares office space with Coyle Airey, will discuss the benefits of prenatal and peri-natal massage. On Oct. 22 at 7 p.m., Coyle Airey herself will speak about what doulas do and why they are important.
Peaceful Birth and Beyond holds a free support group for mothers and babies on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
"It's important for new mothers to have support so they don't feel isolated," she said.
Those looking for information can contact Coyle Airey through her website, www.peacefulbirthandbeyond.com.
Follow Chelsea Feinstein at facebook.com/chelsea estellefeinstein or on Twitter or Tout @CEFeinstein.