1. What is your Childbirth Profession?
I am a Birth Doula and soon-to-be-Certified Childbirth Educator
2. Describe your profession and why someone would want to choose your profession for support in pregnancy and/or childbirth.
A birth doula is someone who is there to support you throughout pregnancy and be there through labor and delivery. A doula will help you have the birth that you want, help you get the information you need to make educated decisions throughout pregnancy and labor/delivery, and will also help your husband or partner help you in the most effective way he can. A doula can help in SO many ways. Research has shown that having a doula present at birth can decrease cesareans by 50%, decrease length of labor by 25%, decrease pitocin use by 40%, decrease requests for pain meds by 30%, decrease forceps deliveries by 40%, decrease epidural requests by 60%, increase overall birthing satisfaction, promote longer breastfeeding, encourage parent/baby bonding, and help partners participate with confidence*. If you are thinking about hiring a doula, don’t think anymore about it. Just do it. You will be so glad you did – it is money very well spent!
3. Why did you get started in your profession?
I got really passionate about birth while preparing for the birth of our second baby. There was a major insurance "snafu", and we had to figure something out. Our choices basically boiled down to: Pay somewhere around $10,000-$13,000 out of pocket for an uncomplicated normal hospital delivery, or have the baby at home for a fraction of that amount. We chose to have the baby at home. During the process of preparing for our birth, I got really familiar with the laws in this state and how women and families aren’t allowed to have the provider of their choice attend their births (specifically in out of hospital births). In my case, I was not able to have my midwife attend my birth, because she didn’t have the “right” qualifications. It doesn’t matter that she is credentialed by a national organization and has attended well over 700 out of hospital births. If she had been present at my birth she would have gone to jail.
But, I digress. Anyway, I had an unattended home birth, and it was wonderful for so many reasons. The main reason, though, is that I was SO educated about birth at that point…so much more than my first hospital birth. Do you know why? Because I had to be. I didn’t have a choice to depend on someone else to know everything for me, guide me, and tell me what to do (whether or not it was the best thing for me or what I wanted). My husband, mom, and I had to know it, because we didn’t have a choice.
After I delivered our son on Christmas morning 2009 after a very easy, relaxed, and amazing labor, I got really involved with South Dakota Safe Childbirth Options, which is a grassroots organization formed to help influence change in our state’s laws and views of home birth and birthing options for families in South Dakota. That year (2010), there was a bill that we had put through to allow birth centers to be licensed and run in South Dakota. I was devastated when it didn’t pass (I was really new to the whole process, and it just seemed so obvious to me that it should pass). I mean – birth centers are proven safe options for families across the country – why in the world would SD legislators think that families here are so different and shouldn’t be afforded the option?
Well, I was doing a LOT of thinking about the bill, and how so many women and families are being robbed of a wonderful and empowering birth experience simply because they don’t know what they don’t know and they don’t have many options. They don’t know that they can demand better service from their providers, they don’t know that they actually have options – they don’t have to do whatever their provider says they should do, they don’t know that they CAN trust their bodies to do what God made them to do, and that they CAN birth their babies free from intervention (most of the time). It made me extremely sad, until it hit me. Even though I wasn’t able to help all families in South Dakota have options and be in control of their own births, I could help one. at. a. time. - all I needed to do was become a doula. What a revelation! I have made it my personal mission to ensure that each and every one of my clients has a kind of birth that they can look back on with fondness, pride, and confidence – no matter what happens during their labor and/or delivery.
4. In detail, what is your personal childbirth philosophy?
I kind of touched on this above, but my personal childbirth philosophy is that every woman (no matter what she’s been told throughout her life) is designed by God to give birth to her own baby. Birth matters to moms and their partners. It is a life changing experience, and can be either amazingly wonderful or devastating. I believe that with the right information, education, encouragement, and self awareness, women can and will make the right decision for themselves and their baby. They just need to be given the chance. As a doula, I want to help them have that chance. I work with women and their partners before the birth of their precious baby to get them information on birth and possible decisions that may need to be made when the time comes. Knowledge is power. If they are informed ahead of time and know what their goal is (even if it isn’t what my personal goal would be), then we all can be on board and know beforehand how we can help her achieve her goals. With her partner on the same page and me advocating for them, together we can help ensure an experience where she doesn’t feel pressure to make one decision or another, but where she knows where she’s going, and has the tools to get there.
5. If you could tell all pregnant women in the world something, what would it be?
First of all: You are MADE to do this! Believe in your body and your baby – you have nothing to fear…no matter what you’ve seen or heard about childbirth throughout your life. Get past all that and start fresh. This is *your* birth. Not a copy of someone else’s in your family, circle of friends, stranger on the bus, or diva from a movie. YOU CAN DO THIS, and it doesn’t have to be the horrible, terrifying experience so many would have you believe.
Secondly, be informed about EVERYTHING! Do your research ahead of time: hire a doula, attend a *good* childbirth education class, and do a LOT of reading.
6. How long have you been in your profession? Are you certified? If yes, by who?
I have been practicing as a doula since August of 2010, and I gained my ICEA certification in January of 2011. I am currently studying to gain my CBE certification through ICEA as well, and plan to begin offering childbirth classes in Mitchell and the surrounding areas in the near future.
7. Do you have a business name? How can people contact you for pregnancy and childbirth support?
Helping Hands Birth Support
helpinghandsbirthsupport @ hotmail . com
8. Where do you practice?
I live in Mitchell, SD, and can travel up to 2 hours for my clients (maybe more if circumstances allow). So, this means I can travel to Sioux Falls, Pierre, Yankton, Watertown, Huron, Brookings, and anywhere in between J
* From Klaus & Kennell 'Mothering the Mother'
* From Klaus & Kennell 'Mothering the Mother'