I didn't always plan to work with pregnant families. I had never even heard of a doula when my first child was born. In fact, I was in graduate school, studying how the brain works, and planning to be a research scientist. And then I had my first baby. He was born January 22nd, 1992. That was the year the founders of DONA decided to call what they were doing "doula".
My husband and I both believed in avoiding un-necesarry medical interventions because we had read about the risks to our baby, myself, and my labor. So we prepared by taking a 9 week Bradley childbirth class and carefully choosing our medical provider. Then, the day before my due date, my contractions started. It was a long labor, and we probably needed a doula because my husband had never done this before and didn't know HOW to help me let go. So I got some IV meds and this did just the trick, allowing me to progress to 5cm before wearing off. Finally, more than 30 hours after my first contractions, I pushed out my son and lifted him onto my belly with my own hands! And there I was, awash in the most amazing feeling of my life: like I had just conquered Mount Everest (my apologies to real mountain climbers). Nobody had ever told me that giving birth under your own power, feeling everything, could be an empowering and amazing experience for the birth giver. I was completelly surprized to be feelling strong and amazing.
The next step that drew me to birth work was supporting my high school friend at the birth of her first child, two years later. My friend's baby was pulled from her epidural-numbed body using a vacuum extractor. As her baby was born, she let out a primal scream that shook me to my core. After the birth she thanked all the attendants and doctors for saving her and her baby. She was elated and satisfied with her birth experience. I, however, went home and cried. I was struck by the contrast between her birth experience and mine. She had felt helpless and in need of saving. The "heroes" of her birth were the medical providers. At my birth, I had felt like the [s]hero, capable of doing anything. It was these two contrasting births that taught me how unusual my experience had been, and led me to appreciate how valuable that birth was to my growth as a parent and as a person.
It took some more time for me to change my course from neuroscience and research to birth work. But these two births were the catalysts.
Today, I teach childbirth and breastfeeding classes, I doula, I provide breastfeeding support and train new doulas because I BELIEVE that this work can change the world. You see, when a person realizes their strength during birth, and when their loved ones see their power, they are transformed. They gain respect from others, and from themselves, for their personal potential. And because of this, I believe they set loftier goals for themselves. They decide to DO more amazing things. And this makes the world a better place. It's my small piece of repairing the world: תיקון עולם.
All of this still motivates me today. But now there's more. Birth work has never been only about the work I do one-on-one with my clients. I have always been moved to advocate in the community for better health care. So, in 2006 I got a Master's Degree in Public Health, which gave me a broader understanding of perinatal health care needs in the USA and in AL. Then, in 2011 I co-founded a community doula project: BirthWell Partners, with sister doula Susan Petrus in order to make the benefits of doula support accessible to all people, regardless of their ability to pay. BirthWell provides free and low cost doula services for under-resourced families. Working in this space has taught me so much more about the inequities in our health care system. I have seen the impacts of institutional racism and class-ism on birth outcomes and on the health of birth-givers and their babies, and work daily to try to bring about change.
Every childbirth class and every birth teaches me more about the strength in every individual, the power of the human body, and the beauty of the relationships forged and strengthened during this amazing experience. Whether long, short, slow, fast, VBAC, C-section, medicated, unmedicated or induced: Every birth is unique and beautiful.
My passion is to enable each person to find their inner strength, and to enable their loved ones to support them fully.
I love doing birth work because the journey of pregnancy, labor, birth and parenting has the power to TRANSFORM families, birth-givers, and the world we live in!!!
And there you have it. Why I Doula This.
You can find links to my services here:
Childbirth Education, Birth Doula support, Breastfeeding Classes, Breastfeeding Consults (pre and postpartum), Doula Training Workshops, Parenting Consults.
For information about my doula services and schedule see my doula page.