Doula, the ancient Greek word for “a woman who serves,” is now used to refer to a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to an expectant mother before, during and just after birth.

The newly opened Montclair B.A.B.Y. offers parents the opportunity to receive doula support for both their birthing experience and postpartum. Kelli DeFlora, owner of Montclair B.A.B.Y. and a birth doula and Jen Kowal, a postpartum doula, operate Montclair B.A.B.Y. out of their new location on Walnut Street, in attractive space with recently exposed stained-glass windows and original tile ceiling, next door to Montclair Bread Co. Besides doula services, Montclair B.A.B.Y. center offers classes for to “empower and to provide new parents with educational tools to last a lifetime.”

Doulas provide a variety of services and expertise, including staying with the expectant mother during labor, facilitating communication between the mother, partner and clinical care providers and offering motional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint.

Engaging a doula is a very personal decision. DeFlora approaches each new client by getting to know both the expectant parents and their families. She listens to their hopes, desires, traditions and beliefs for their upcoming birth. Then she offers support, without judgment, for whatever they decide.

Jen Kowal and Kelli DeFlora of Montclair B.A.B.Y.

Doulas can go where clients need them — assisting at a hospital, birthing center or a client’s home. The amount of doula services varies, as some couples request birth classes or only postpartum services. The common variable is the connection between the doula and the couple. Having a doula can help parents feel increased confidence in the birthing process, and postpartum, increase success of breastfeeding. Some insurance companies will cover all or part of the fee for doula services.

In addition to doula services, the classes, workshops and support groups at Montclair B.A.B.Y. can help expectant moms build a network of support by offering a chance to meet other like-minded moms. That was something Rachel Crampsey, owner of Montclair Bread Company, discovered while attending pre-natal classes with DeFlora.

“I met all my friends, I found a community and through this community, I purchased a business,” says Crampsey.

For more information and class schedules, visit Montclair B.A.B.Y.

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