As a mother who’s given birth five times, I can appreciate the range of emotions that women experience both before and after delivery. My first child, Garrett, was born with a heart defect and lived only two days. After that devastating experience—and a period of feeling very alone—I was blessed with two healthy children. While their births were “normal”, I recall feeling anxious and afraid during labor even though my labor support was doing their best to help. I had a close friend that was a labor and delivery nurse and she acted as my doula, however she still had her nursing tasks to attend to.
Several years later, I was excited to learn I was pregnant with my fourth child. Once again, I found myself anxious about the upcoming delivery. Then I ran into a friend who was recounting her birth experience when I learned she’d hired a doula. Not knowing this resource was available; I asked what her doula did and why she’d hired one. My friend smiled and said, “I loved having someone there who never left me throughout the entire birth process. She helped me stay strong and her constant encouragement was just what I needed. She was my ROCK. And I know my husband appreciated it most of all.”
I thought, “That’s exactly what I need!”
So I interviewed a doula, felt immediately comfortable with her, and we agreed on a birth plan. I could already tell this was going to be a better and new kind of birth experience.
When I went into labor with a couple months later, I called my doula. She came over to my house immediately, and we labored together for a short while. When she could tell I was close to giving birth, she helped me gather up my things, rode with my husband and me to the hospital, and took me up to the maternity floor while my husband parked the car, checked in, and relayed medical information. My doula helped me settle into my room, communicate my needs to the nursing staff, and stayed with me the whole time, constantly encouraging and helping me manage the intense pain. A short while later, my beautiful daughter Alexa was born.
Looking back, was Alexa’s birth easy? Of course not! But my memories of her birth are poignant and powerfully positive. Why? I realized how important it was to have someone there solely for me. My doula didn’t have other patients to worry about, IVs to check, a monitor to watch~ she was there for me and my interests alone. Keeping the focus on me meant that I stayed strong, didn’t need medication, and when my baby did arrive, I felt empowered and exhilarated rather than drowsy and “out of it” from medication. I still remember the words my doula whispered in my ear over and over, “You are doing it, trust your body and you can accomplish anything.”
When I arrived home, my doula came over a few times to help as I adjusted to my new routine. She listened to me recount me birth story, shared her beautiful perspective and then topped it off with wonderful words of encouragement. She assisted me through “baby blues”, and reacquainted me with the newborn stage. My doula gave me the best gift a person can give, her time (not to mention companionship of another female). I was re-introduced to the simple things in life~ encouragement, another set of hands, a shoulder to lean on, and she made all the difference for me and my husband. From that time on, I knew I wanted to help other women have access to the same simple (but all important) support I did.
I birthed my fifth child within the comfort of my home with a homebirth midwife and close friends and family. This was the longest of all my labors. Lasting 9 hours in all, I had all the support and comfort of home with constant, loving care. It truly was a dream to give birth in such a wonderful and relaxed atmosphere. The best part was watching the older sibling welcome their new baby sister.
- DONA Postpartum Doula Certification Workshop
- DONA Doula Certification Workshop
July 2004, 17 hour, Extensive workshop focusing on the role and purpose of a doula, stages and phases of labor, physical and emotional needs of the pregnant mother, doula’s scope of practice and ethical role, being part of the support team. Training style consisted of video, lecture, handbook, literature, role playing and hands on experiences.
- DONA Advanced Doula ~ In-services
March 2004, Spinning Babies: This seminar focusing on fetal positioning and methods within the doula scope to assess and help turn the baby to optimal positioning for labor and delivery. (Gail Tully with www.spinningbabies.com)
Spring 2004, Advanced Doula Training~ Supporting A Survivor During Birth an in-service hosted by Penny Simkin based on her book The only book of its kind, When Survivors Give Birth provides survivors and their maternity caregivers with extensive information on the prevalence and short- and long-term effects of childhood sexual abuse. A sensitive training on how to help and care for a survivor of sexual, emotional and physical abuse.
August 2007, Advanced Doula Training: A Doula’s Role in a Community Based Doula Program, & Doula support for the birthing woman with an epidural. (Jessica Atkins)
- Lactation Education
I want to start off by saying that I have successfully breastfed four children on average 15 months each. I believe personal experience is worth its weight in gold, just as breast milk is worth its weight in gold!
March 2004, A three part Lactation Management~ Self Learning Module; 1) Getting Started 2) Overcoming Difficulties 3) Breast Pumps and Milk Storage
September 2007, Lactation Counselor Certificate Training Program course (CLC) this is an intensive and extensive 45 hour completely in-depth lactation training program put on by The Healthy Children Project. Certified: September 2007-December 2013.
November 2007, Breastfeeding: Beyond the Basics ~ A New Paradigm for Postpartum Depression: How inflammation increases risk of postpartum depression and how breastfeeding provides protection.
- Childbirth Preparation Classes
The Bradley Method of Childbirth: This 10 week (25 hour) class covered Nutrition, Protein, Smoking, Alcohol & Drug use, Exercise, Sex, Abdominal Breathing, Tests during pregnancy, First Stage Labor, Second Stage Labor, Episiotomy, Third Stage Labor, Cord Clamping, Pain, Comfort Measures, Labor Positions, Visualization, Sterile Water Block, Fetal Monitor, Induction, Cesarean, Emergency Childbirth, Amniotic Fluid, Water breaking, Postpartum, APGAR Scoring, Newborn Procedures, Shots, Baby Care, Circumcision, Breastfeeding, Postpartum Depression and Infant Death.
Home Birthing Class: This 6 week (12 hour) class covered: Why Homebirth, Nutrition, Exercise, Water birth, Relaxation, Ultrasound, Circumcision, Breastfeeding, Physical Emotional and Mental Readiness, Choices in Pregnancy, Anatomy, Timing Contractions, Signs of Impending Labor, Urge to Push, Natural Rhythm of Labor, Tension Pain Fear Cycle, Old Brain and New Brain function, Why Birth is Painful.
- Prenatal and Postnatal Continuing Education
October 2006, The 21st Century Integrated Prenatal and Perinatal Practice Supporting Baby’s Wholeness from the Beginning of Life.
October 2007, Caring for the Sorrow of Pregnancy and Infant Loss with Kristen Swanson, RN, PhD, FANN and JoAnn O’Leary, PhD, MPH, MS ~ Pregnancy after Loss, Perinatal Hospice, Bereavement Photography
- Infant and Child CPR Certification
The purpose of infant and child CPR is to give individuals the knowledge and skill necessary to recognize and provide basic care for breathing and cardiac emergencies in infants and children until medical personnel arrive and take over. My certification with this is renewed annually, to keep current with Red Cross standards. Last renewed in June 2012
- Director of Child Care at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Mpls, MN
I worked in the Child Care Nursery at WPC since October 1998. I was the Assistant Director from 10/98 – 12/02, at which time I became the Director. I have managed 6 staff and over 50 volunteers per year. Under my direction I have children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 4 years. On average each year we have between 50-70 children under our watch.
- ECFE Coursework
1996-2009, I currently have over 400 hours of Early Childhood Family Education classroom time. Learning, instructing and playing with growing families.
- Childbirth Collective
Non-profit organization of childbirth professionals providing weekly prenatal informational “topic nights” for expectant parents. Topics covered include the purpose of doula care, medications and interventions, the natural rhythm of labor, comfort measures, Cesarean prevention, water birth, postpartum lactation and the marriage after childbirth, and many more.
- Professional Memberships
- DONA International (Doulas of North America) www.dona.org
- Minnesota Birth Network www.minnesotabirthnetwork.com
- Childbirth Collective www.childbirthcollective.org
My Role as your Postpartum and Birth Doula
My parents both have backgrounds in health care and they have had a major influence on my perspective about care-giving. My father was a surgeon and chief of staff at a major Twin Cities hospital; he served as a great sounding board and voice of reason during critical moments in his patients’ lives. My mother brought humanness and warmth to her work in a hospice, as she endeavored to make the last days of life the best they could be for countless individuals and families. As your doula, I make the FIRST days of life the best they can be for parents and families. I want your birth experience and the early postpartum period to be the best it can be and I will work with your care providers to achieve that.
Doula, an ancient Greek word meaning “a woman assisting other woman before and after childbirth,” describes exactly what I do.
As a postpartum doula, I assist your entire family in the first trimester following delivery with everything from newborn care, family adjustment, and rest for the mother to tracking feedings, light housework, and hands-on education, nonjudgmental support and companionship.
As your birth doula, I will serve as your constant companion throughout labor, assisting with a range of non-medical comfort and coping strategies.
Other roles I play as your birth doula include:*
- Assisting you (and your partner) to prepare and carry out your plans for the birth.
- Understanding the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of women in labor – and accommodating your unique concerns as outlined in your birth plan.
- Staying by your side throughout your entire labor.
- Facilitating communication between you, your partner, and clinical care providers.
- Nurturing your memory of your birth experience.
* From Doulas of North America (DONA)