Doula Support During a Difficult Diagnosis

March 4, 2024

As I have been looking for beneficial resources for our Verity’s Village parents, I kept considering how a seasoned doula would be a great resource for any parent facing a life-limiting prenatal diagnosis. As a doula myself, I know that other doulas have been able to achieve further training in order to help parents as they go through medical situations and also through stillbirth. Today, we are blessed to have been able to speak to a very experienced doula for insight into doula support during a difficult diagnosis.

The question we are asking today is: How can a doula help parents with a life-limiting prenatal diagnosis?

– Brooke Shambley, Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator

The information below was shared by Traci Weafer, an Alabama doula with extensive experience and training. Traci was amazingly helpful in explaining the support offered by doulas, the benefits offered to parents, and additional encouragement for parents facing a prenatal diagnosis. Thank you so much, Traci, for sharing with our Verity’s Village community!

Heart Divider

Traci Weafer has been in the world of birth work for 24 years. Starting in postpartum work, she later served as a midwife assistant. Presently, she serves as a birth doula in Montgomery, Alabama. Educating parents is very important to Traci, as well as providing in-person support. Her goal is to walk through a care plan with evidenced-based information and help mothers to learn self-advocacy.

doula support

In 2008, Traci first provided doula support for a family who was facing a prenatal stillbirth. She had been trained to provide for logistics, but after going through this birth with this family, she realized how much more could be done to provide for clients’ emotional needs. After this, she went on to become trained with stillbirthday.

She asked, “How many people are going through this and don’t have a doula?” Her desire is to provide support with minimal expense to families who are in need of support during a prenatal diagnosis or stillbirth. She shared that many doulas who provide services for parents facing a life-limiting prenatal diagnosis accept donations specifically focused on serving families in this situation.

How do doulas help support families who are experiencing a diagnosis or a stillbirth?

As Traci shared about the benefits of doula support to parents who receive a diagnosis or are going through a loss, her passion really became evident. She expressed that her support was multifaceted, caring for the mother’s physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental needs. While her initial training had mainly focused on the physical logistics surrounding a loss, her heart was to provide holistic support.

Physical Needs – Birth Planning and Labor/Birth Support

When assisting the parents with physical needs, she helps walk the parents through a care plan that will consider all outcomes. The physical delivery is going to happen, so it is important to prep for birth. With so much unexpected happening in pregnancy, Traci’s desire is that nothing unexpected happen during labor. “Birth doesn’t have to be an unknown,” she observes. How do they want their birth to look?

She walks them through needs: Would they like to request a cuddle cot? Do they want a lock of hair? Do they want hand prints? Photos? Not every parent wants the same things for their birth. In addition to pre-planning memories, a doula may help parents plan on possible medical interventions for a baby who needs extra help with their medical needs.

Spiritual Needs

In addition to the physical needs, Traci stressed that she makes sure to consider her clients’ spiritual needs. Do they want to call a chaplain or a pastor? Is there any music that would bring them spiritual comfort? Will they include prayer? In her experience, these things can bring comfort to parents though the experience will never be easy.

Emotional Needs

Traci’s passion for emotional support is clearly evident. She believes it is important to have a person available 24/7 to be on your side, especially when dealing with a prenatal diagnosis. Many doulas will be available to call and text throughout the pregnancy, offering in-person support when needed.

Mental Needs

Traci wants parents to feel psychologically whole going into delivery so they can be present to experience the birth of their baby. Because of this, she will encourage extra help if it is needed. A counselor or other mental health professional can be beneficial if it means mom and dad can prepare mentally and emotionally to spend all of the special moments that are available with their baby.

Why should a mother with a prenatal diagnosis consider hiring a doula?

A doula can help hold space for a family, so they don’t have to think so hard. This is the least expected journey. A trained doula can provide grief support and, if needed, they can “show up and shut up.” Each parent’s needs are so very different. A doula should be able to show compassion and empathy, while separating their own emotions so they can best support the needs of the parents.

Traci also emphasized how she offers resources to dads as well as moms. In her experience, dads grieve differently. They are not physically carrying the baby, so their experience differs. Some dads may not experience their grief until up to a year later.


A doula can also provide advocacy to parents. Traci Weaver in particular likes to shine a light on the bullying that parents can encounter in the birth room and how doulas have an opportunity to remind parents that they have a voice. She helps to weed out the misinformation that might be shared, encouraging parents to make the choice they want to make rather than making their decision based on biased information.

Final Thoughts

When asked, “What encouragement do you have for mothers facing this situation?” Traci offered heartfelt advice. “Give yourself grace. Give yourself time to experience grief in real time. Don’t suppress emotions for anyone else. Give yourself space to process alone if needed before including extended family. Grief is not linear. There is a gamut of emotions. You don’t know what you don’t know. Don’t hold guilt. This isn’t your fault.”

Doula Support

Thank you again, Traci Weafer, for all of your helpful information and for passing on your experience to our Verity’s Village families. We appreciate you!

If you need support on your journey through a life-limiting prenatal diagnosis, reach out to Verity’s Village on Facebook and Instagram. If you are in Alabama and would like to contact Traci Weafer, you can find her on Instagram and on her website, Traci Doula. Thank you for the privilege of sharing this information with you and your family!

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