This week we celebrate World Doula Week! Please join us on a blog series where we asked as many doulas in the Nashville area some questions; some serious and some fun. Today, we start with our first two questions. All week long you’ll get real answers from lots of different doulas about birth and doula’ing. Enjoy learning more about these strong women who are empowering Nashville women in their births!
From DONA International, The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experience professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
What was your first encounter with birth?
My first encounter with birth was my own first pregnancy and birth when I was 25. We actually videotaped it, and I have watched it over and over again through the years since. It seems like I notice something new each time! I learned so much from that experience.
– Andrea Hewitt
I was a doula for a classmate in high school. She chose adoption for her son but wanted an unmedicated vaginal delivery for him because she wanted him to have the absolute best start possible. That experience changed me. I never knew sacrifice or surrender until that moment.
– Gaylea McDougal
The first birth I witness was that of my nephew. It was very managed and felt… separated. Birth came together for me on the farm with the birth of puppies and during a trip to Uganda. There I witnessed the normalcy of birth and breastfeeding, many joyful births and some tragic losses. I discovered birth is beautiful and mothers are strong.
– Marcie Hadley
As a senior in high school I participated in a program called Executive Internship where students would leave the school campus and shadow the career they wanted for honors credit. I shadowed the L&D floor and was able to witness many births, both vaginal and cesarean. It was quite an experience for an 18 year old.
– Amber Mohr
What inspired you to become a doula?
My close friend wanted to avoid another almost 3 day birth she had with her first son. She knew it went so long because she was just so tired. She asked if I could come and just massage her. I was humbled that she would ask me to be a part of her birth. I started reading everything I could. I thought this would be a one time thing but being part of that birth changed me in such a fundamental way that I can’t imagine not being a part of the birth world.
– Kimberly Payne
I was invited to my first birth when I was a newlywed in college. My only reference for pregnancy and labor was from movies and TV shows, so I was pretty clueless. My friend had a beautiful, peaceful homebirth and afterwards she looked at me and said my life will never be the same. She was right. I was amazed at how natural, normal and yet sacred that moment was for her family. And I also couldn’t believe that no one told me how incredible the birth experience could be for a woman. I didn’t sleep for days. I researched, read, watched and talked to any mother I could about labor. I discovered how our bodies were naturally made for birth and that opened a new world for me. Not only had my view on birth changed but the way I viewed the food I ate, how I cared for my body, and my role in caring for the environment shifted as well. Through that process I discovered the amazing role of a doula and I’ve been attending births ever since.
– Merrill Durham
After college I moved to NYC to pursue a career in graphic design. At my first job I was tasked with maintaining a little site called mybestbirth.com, a community Ricky Lake started after producing The Business of Being Born documentary. The job was slow and I found myself consumed by reading birth stories, watching videos and learning everything I could about how powerful and empowering birth can be. I had always been terrified about birth and learning that it could be a positive experience thrilled me, and I knew I eventually wanted to be a part of the birth community. My career later led me to becoming a yoga teacher and last year a friend asked me to be at her birth. So I signed up for the training at Blooma and a few days before it started I found out I was (big surprise) pregnant. I was able to attend a couple births before having my own little one, and I’m hooked!
– Erin Sporer