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Meet Tracy Hartley of B*E*S*T Doula Service

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracy Hartley.

Tracy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I first heard about doulas on The Today Show in 1996 and, by the end of the day, I had signed up for training and given notice that I would be transitioning out of my job within 6 months to become a doula. I loved my job and had been there for over six years, but as soon as I learned what a doula was, I knew that it was my calling.

When I returned home on the first day of training, my daughter called to say that she was pregnant! It was clear in that moment that I had made the right life decision! I attended one birth with another doula before my daughter’s due date and then was my daughter’s doula at the birth of my first granddaughter. Since then I have been at the births of my other two grandchildren and have attended a total of 608 births.

My only regret is that I didn’t learn about doulas much earlier in life. It’s absolutely the best job I’ve ever had and possibly the best job there is!

Has it been a smooth road?
The biggest challenge for most doulas in being on call. I take two to four clients a month and am on call for two weeks before to two weeks after their due date, which means that I am always on call. On call means that I can’t have a drink, or travel more than 30 minutes from home. It means that I have to carry everything in my car when I go anywhere, including my ice chest with food for a long birth, my camera with the battery charged, clothes to wear if I am more or less appropriately dressed for a birth. If I go out with friends, I have to take my own car in case I get a call while I’m out and don’t have time to go home before going to the birth.

I’ve missed or left in the middle of dinners, concerts, movies, dates and some of my grandchildren’s’ birthday parties.

The other challenge is when clients choose a doctor who is not ‘birth friendly.’ I explain what I know or have heard about the doctor and encourage them to explore their options, but sometimes the client doesn’t want to hurt the doctor’s feelings or say that it’s too much trouble to try to change doctors or that they have a good relationship with the doctor and it will be fine. Then, when the doctor does exactly what I warned they would do, the clients are disappointed that they didn’t believe it could happen to them.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Having been a doula for over 20 years, I have more experience than most doulas. I have attended trainings in nearly every specialty that has been available to me in that time. I was one of the first doulas trained in Hypnobirthing with Marie Mongan and have also taken birth hypnosis training with two other trainers since then. I have trained in Spinning Babies; Reiki; Supporting Survivors of Abuse; Use of TENS During Labor; Return to Zero Training: Fetal Demise; Maternal Mental Health; Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders; From Womb to World; Acupressure; as well as Childbirth Educator training and Advanced Doula Training through DONA International, CAPPA and Childbirth International.

I’m extremely proud to have been recognized by DASC (Doulas Association of Southern California) as Doula of the Year in 2004 and Doula Mentor of the Year in 2006 2008, 2012 and 2015 as well as receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

I have gathered a group of the most experienced doulas in Los Angeles and together we back each other up so that no woman who hires a doula from B*E*S*T will be without a doula at her birth.

I also have created two project of which I am very proud. The Hospital Project is a site where doulas can rate various hospitals based on their birth friendly attitude, their accommodations and what services are available for laboring women. Pregnant women can find which hospital best meets their needs and which doctors have been rated as the most birth friendly. The Hospital Project is available at

The Letters Project is a way for women to let the hospital know their “wish list” for birth. This is not the same as a birth plan, which every woman should have, but is a way of encouraging hospitals to provide what women want, such as birth tubs, midwives, laughing gas, walking epidurals, telemetry monitoring and more. There is also a letter to provide feedback on a new parent’s actual labor, birth and postpartum experience at the hospital. Each letter will take only a few minutes to fill out, but will provide a full page letter that can be mailed to the hospital. The Letters Project is on my primary website at

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
This is a great city for a new doula to get started. There is a lot of competition, but that means that pregnant women have a lot of choices and more and more women are choosing to have a doula at their birth. The more doulas there are, the better birth options are available because doulas empower women to ask for what they want at hospital births. There are also a lot of midwives to provide home births and birth center births, and there are doulas who primarily work with those midwives.

I love attending home births, but I prefer to work at hospital births because I feel that women in a hospital setting have more obstacles to overcome and more need for a doula to help them make informed decisions and educated choices.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Shoots & Giggles

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