About Birthways

Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Doula Services in Chicago


“Birthways was great to work with; professional, knowledgeable, helpful, and collaborative. Our Doula provided wonderful peace of mind and much needed sleep!”

Our Story

Birthways was founded in 1997 by Karen Laing, who was previously the director of Illinois’ first fledging doula agency, Dana Mothercare (DM). DM was owned and founded by Nancy Newton and Bill Brauer, groundbreaking professionals whose approach integrated mindfulness in home-based care.  When DM’s founders moved on to other projects and closed the organization, Karen gathered the doulas and founded a new doula company. Some of the original DM’s doulas are still a part of Birthways today!

Birthways has helped to shape the field of postpartum care in Chicago and across the nation. Since entering the field, Karen Laing has served as one of the early board members of the National Association of Postpartum Care Services and worked to establish the first national certification standards for the postpartum doula.

While Birthways serves a wide variety of families, one of our areas of specialty has become perinatal and postpartum mood disorders.  Karen Laing contributed a chapter to the book “Housecalls: Home based Interventions on the impact of doula care on postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders (PPMDs)”. She also co-presented to the American Psychological Association on the subject and has presented at the March of Dimes Conference on this groundbreaking model of care.

Why Birthways


Carefully screened, trained, and supported, Birthways doulas have a range of experience to meet your unique needs. We’re not just figuring this out. We are nationally recognized experts involved in establishing the first certification guidelines in the field 20 years ago!


We have 24/7 on-call administrators to deal with issues that arise outside of business hours.


We will pair you with a doula that will be the right professional for your needs. Our training keeps providers up to date on newborn care, women’s health, sibling needs, lactation, and emotional wellbeing. Our labor support providers have expertise with both low risk and high risk pregnancies, and we work with women who have special concerns with their wellbeing. Because we get to know you, we’ll be sure to find the right doula for your needs, budget and parenting style.

Doulas on our team have impressive backgrounds. They include midwives, perinatal educators, women’s health specialists, RNs with Maternal/Child/NICU experience, newborn and early childhood professionals, Social Workers and other mental health professionals, sleep specialists, Lactation Consultants & Lactation Educators—we have the right expert for you.

Trained for special needs

We have labor support and postpartum doulas with special training in..high-risk pregnancies, multiples, advanced lactation support, postpartum depression and perinatal mood disorders, adoption and surrogacy, and other unique circumstances.


Birthways is unmatched in being responsive, and maintaining consistent, exceptional care. You’re looking for a doula that will meet needs with compassion, knowledge and skillful nurturing for you and your family, but you also want reliability, consistency, and responsiveness.


Calling around and not getting responses? We have over two decades of experience and unmatched professionalism to anticipate your needs, and exceed your expectations. We have solid backup plans, and great communication skills to help you plan for what you know you will need, and to work through the unexpected if it happens.

Flexibility and Reliability

You want to be sure your doula is available, but have no idea when this baby will really arrive. You aren’t sure about family support or how to plan for care. Birthways will work with you to ensure that you get what you need, when you need it.

Meet Our Founder

Karen Laing is a mother, lactation consultant, midwife and educator and the founder and president of Birthways.  She was trained at Duke Integrative Medicine as an Integrative Health Coach, and is a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction instructor.  As a clinician and educator, her attention to the emotional wellbeing of families permeates her work.

She has published and lectured on the subject of postpartum doulas and their role in prevention and treatment of perinatal mood disorders.   As a Board Member of the National Association of Postpartum Care Services, she worked to establish the first national standards for postpartum doula certification.  She has developed unique models of care for breastfeeding support and perinatal mood disorder care that is founded on a collaborative approach between clinicians and home-based doulas.

Learn More about Karen

Karen has trained and mentored hundreds of doulas and providers and worked with thousands of families in her career.  Through the unique perspective of providing and teaching a home-based model of care, she has had the opportunity to support families with insight into the joys, fears, and challenges of early parenting.  By sharing evidence-based information and explaining the underlying biology of parental and infant behavior with a compassionate and empowering style, Karen helps families learn to trust themselves and their infants. Her training and her personal commitment to mindful caregiving allows both her clients and students to be supported with compassion, non-judgment, and curiosity.

Karen lectures and teaches regularly at Birthways and to the community, including:

  • Rush Prudential Health Plans – Preconception and Pregnancy Wellness
  • American Medical Association- Parenting Series for the Workplace Wellness Program
  • March of Dimes- Presented on the Topic of Postpartum Doulas
  • American Psychological Association- Poster Session Postpartum Doulas and Perinatal Mood Disorders
  • Babyserv- Served as a Childbirth Expert
  • Rainbow Families/Family Equality-
  • Led “Not Yet Parents” workshops and groups
  • Prolonged Conception and Infertility, Body Image and LBT Identity in Pregnancy
  • Midwest Maternal Institute- Professor

When she’s not supporting families and their doulas at Birthways or supporting individuals through her work as a coach and meditation instructor, Karen is writing, gardening, cooking for family and friends, and cultivating her daily meditation practice.   She lives in Wisconsin and is nourished by the trails, lakes and wooded places both in her community and throughout the Midwest in particular.  She has Welsh Springer Spaniels that are usually underfoot and hasn’t outgrown her girlhood love for horses.   Parenting her daughter, born in 2003, will always be the most important journey she’s been brave enough to take.

Meet Our Team

Our matchmaking process allows us to learn about you and match you with providers who will meet your needs. Call us to learn more!

Get the Support, Comfort and Confidence You Deserve!

For over 20 years, Birthways has provided expert support for Chicago-area families during the childbearing year with compassionate, knowledgeable, and affirming care. Founded by renowned postpartum expert Karen Laing, our doulas are carefully screened, trained, supported and experienced to meet your unique needs. With expertise ranging from education to lactation to sleep, Birthways is committed to providing compassionate, affirming support for expectant and new families.

3717 N. Ravenswood Ave. Suite 140 Chicago, IL 60613 888.506.0607