Parenthood is not always an easy journey for expectant families unsure where to turn for guidance on birth planning and decision-making. Luckily, navigating parents along childbirth's sometimes rocky path is the mission of a business created by Clevelander Ashley Sova.
is a full-service pregnancy, birth, and parenting agency that hosts local events, presents childbirth education classes, and, perhaps most importantly to its founder, provides postpartum doula services.
Sova offers educational tools that treat parenthood as an ongoing process that begins during pregnancy and continues through a baby's first months. Classes are taught in a client's home and center on a range of topics covering pregnancy, labor and birth. Sova's clientele, mostly professional women ages 27 – 40, prefer the comfortable nature of private classes over a more sterile hospital learning environment.
"They can ask embarrassing questions, and find out the information that matters for their birth experience," says Sova. "People will invite their pregnant friends and make it into a group event."
Teaching the classes are professionally trained doulas
, who act as travel guides in advising families during pregnancy, birth and the immediate postpartum period. CLEBaby's postpartum doulas are also brought on to help with infant feeding and light housework, and offer mothers critical support in whatever ways they need to recover from childbirth.
Sova hired a doula for her second pregnancy after a difficult birth with her first child. Having an informed, supportive resource close at hand was a revelation, she says, one that inspired her to launch CLEBaby instead of returning to her job as a cancer researcher at Case Western Reserve University.
"Having an experienced woman who has seen so many births and knows it inside out brings such a sense of calm," Sova says. "We've had women tell us the service has been life-changing for them."
CLEBaby has served 50 to 55 families over the last year, a number Sova plans to grow through new classes and events. Outings for 2017 include a mom-centric ice cream social and a "daddy bootcamp" at a local brewery where new fathers can sip a beer while learning basic baby care.
Raising a newborn may not be all glitz and glamour, but neither should it be overwhelming or isolating, says Sova.
"We're going to continue to grow our services and our team," she says. "We want to continue on the path of having the most knowledgeable doulas around."