5 years ago a new daydream formed in my mind. I wanted to become a doula. I was an exhausted first time mom of a newborn, trying to work through breastfeeding struggles, heal from a c section and recover emotionally from a traumatic birth. As soon as I heard the words “postpartum doula,” I knew that I needed one as part of my support team and that one day I wanted to become one to support other mothers.
Fast forward to today. It’s April 2016. My daydream is now a reality. I am certified as a postpartum doula through DONA international and working toward my birth certification. I co-own Over The Moon Doula Services, LLC with Megan Michelotti and Brenda Baar, both of whom carry birth doula certifications from DONA and both of whom have become my very dear friends. Between the three of us, we have supported almost 100 clients.
Our care has helped families stay healthy both physically and emotionally during the childbearing year, have safer births and healthier babies. We each feel that growing and evolving as birthwokers is vital to continually offer better care to our clients. As we approach this milestone of our 100th client served, we are each taking a few moments to reflect on some of the lessons we have learned during our doula careers so far and smile over some of the incredible moments we have been able to share with families.
Adding doula work to our lives has come with surprises. Megan says, “One thing that surprised me about becoming a doula is how physically challenging it is. Just standing for hours is exhausting, let alone holding someone, helping to move someone around, doing counter pressure, and letting someone squeeze my hand. I try to practice self-care during births by stretching, eating at meal times and drinking a LOT of water, but ultimately I still end up with what I call a "birth hangover" for a day after attending a birth, in which my body is just very, very sore.”
Working with families has taught us so much. From my own work with clients I have learned that there is a such a vast array of experiences someone can have during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Everybody has their own story. I have to be able to really listen to what is going on in my client’s lives, minds and hearts and tailor the support I offer to their unique situation.
And we love it! "If I have to choose," says Brenda, "my favorite part about being a doula is after a baby is born, witnessing a mother and her partner be completely in awe of the process of birthing their baby. I love seeing how strong the mother feels, and the way her partner admires her strength and perseverance. I love it when my client looks at me with disbelief on her face and says “I did it!!” Even when the birth doesn’t go as my clients had hoped."
As we prepare to serve the next 100 families, we each have a few things we want our former clients to know:
"I want every mother I've worked with to know how truly humbled I am to have been allowed into their birth space. To be a part of the precious memory of giving birth is simply the highest honor imaginable for me."
"I want my former clients to know that I truly care about them. I’m always a little sad on my last day with a family because I enjoy the time we spend together so much! I feel so honored to be welcome into somebody’s home or hospital room to be a part of their experience birthing and/or bringing home their babies. This is a my job, but it’s also my passion."
"I want my clients to know that supporting them in their pregnancies and births is a gift that I will never take for granted. I also want them to know that I am *still* their doula. There isn’t a time limit after birth for contacting me. I am very aware of the importance of processing one’s birth experience, whether it was very positive, disappointing, or traumatic. I want my clients to know that if they ever want to talk to someone about their births, even a year or more down the road, please know that I’m here for you!"
To celebrate this exciting milestone we are giving a gift to the mother whose birth will mark our 100th client served. She will receive a goody bag filled with items to help her (and her baby!) feel pampered and special. We are so thankful to the sponsors of this project who graciously have donated these items to us. Be sure to check out their websites (just click on their names), they’ve got some great stuff!
In her bag this mom will find items from:
BeautyCounter Courtesy of Nicole Sunderland
LuLaRoe Courtesy of Melissa Kalman
Perfectly Posh courtesy of Liz Moye
Pure Haven Essentials courtesy Beth Hill
And of course the there's the bag itself! It’s a 31 tote courtesy of Sarah Stier
We are so excited to see which lucky mom and baby will win this gift!