Birth Matters

ChristinaEvelyn

 Birth is one of the most amazing miracles of this world.  It breathes air into life.  Birth not only brings your baby into this world, it sets the tone for how you look at yourself as a person and a mother.  It greatly affects your life in ways you never imagined it would.  It can set you up for memories filled with love, hope, joy and empowerment or it can break you into pieces.  Birth Matters, you matter.

I began my journey of becoming a doula, a woman who serves, after a less than lovely birth experience with my second child.  I was uneducated, unmotivated to learn and completely trusting of the hospital, my doctor and the nurses I have never met.  I set out to have a baby with complete strangers and was treated as such.  It shook me to my core.  I birthed a beautiful baby boy vaginally after 10.5 hours of labor where threats and scare tactics were used on top of medical interventions that went terribly wrong.  I felt alone, unloved and just a statistic.  I didn’t feel like I mattered and my postpartum experience confirmed how I felt about myself, and my ability as a mother.

Experiencing a labor and birth that caused myself to doubt my abilities, lowered my self-esteem and caused unwanted postpartum depression, motivated me to change the way my clients would experience birth.   “Women’s perceptions about their bodies and their babies’ capabilities will be deeply influenced by the care they receive around the time of birth.” Ina May Gaskin, Birth Matters.  I set out to love on women and their partners, educate them on the labor and birth experience, challenge them to dig deeper and counsel them on their fears.  I want my clients to know they matter and to know that I care about them and their hearts.  I didn’t want them to hear “the baby is here and healthy and that is all that matters”.  It’s not all that matters, it’s a huge part, but that is not all that matters.

Why does birth matter?  Ask your mom about her birth experiences, better yet, ask your grandmother.  Do not be surprised if their birth stories are as detailed as a woman that just had her baby yesterday.  Birth leaves and imprint on your mind and soul.  For every mother, birth is an event that shakes and shapes her in one way or another.  Birth leaves lasting effects such as empowerment, euphoria, depression and disempowerment.  These effects all differ depending on how the women is treated and supported around the time she gives birth regardless of whether the birth is vaginal or a cesarean.

Birth matters because you matter.  Do not for a moment leave your birth in the hands of a stranger.  Take my word for it. Build a birth team that will support you, your desires, educate and empower you to want better for your birth and yourself.  Choose wisely and seek out a practitioner whom you feel comfortable. You want them to be encouraging, understanding and will freely educate you on the questions you ask.  Interview with doulas and choose the best fit for your family; one that you feel will serve, love and support you and your partner the best.  It is very important that you are comfortable with your birth team.  Love, support and service are a powerful thing.  It can take even the less than ideal circumstances and turn them into more joy than your heart can contain.  Take control of your birth and let someone love on you and treat you the way you deserve, because YOU MATTER!

Picture source:  My beautiful client Christina admiring sweet Evelyn taken by Kara – Smile Doula

Source:  “Birth Matters” by Ina May Gaskin

A look into my (doula) heart…

I started this journey to find out what I wanted to be when I grow up after I had my second son at age 23.  His labor and birth was scary for me, and I left the hospital feeling like something was ripped from my heart.  I felt like a statistic instead of a new mother. How could I make this different so mothers don’t have to feel what I did?  I prayed.  I looked into going to school for nursing and even took some classes, but it wasn’t right.  That was not where I needed to be to make the difference that I needed to make.  I prayed some more.  Where did God need me?

I was watching some TLC baby reality TV show and the word “doula” was tossed around throughout the episode.  I immediately was intrigued!  I had no clue what a doula was so I researched and prayed some more.  It all then fell into place…this is where I needed to be….I fell in love!  I started studying almost immediately after my decision to go at this full force.  I read and read and read some more – about 11 books within 2 months.  My next step was to attend a 3-day doula workshop which consisted of LONG hours – that was cake!  Studying to become a doula didn’t seem like work to me, it was a passion that was burning in me that I would let roar when I was learning or inching closer to my dream.

After the workshop, fear and doubt set in.  Could I support these women and their partners the way they needed to be supported? [Absolutely!] Could I push my own feelings and desires aside to make their feelings and desires my priority?  [My client's desires became my own desires.] What would happen if I cried during their labor and birth? [Nothing!!  I have cried at just about all my births and no, I'm not sorry! ;-)]  Could I live up to the dream in my heart to change labor and birth from the way it is to what it should be? [I can't do it alone...that's where I trust and ask God to use me to love on His beloved children.]  What if I gagged if my client throws up (this was one of my biggest fears)? [If you had me as your doula, you know fears are a big part of our counseling time.  You have to face your fears...well...I faced mine during my 3rd labor & delivery!  I no longer fear vomit...I embrace it.]

I found out quickly that what I thought would be an awesome job watching babies being born, turned out to be a burning passion to connect with a mother so deeply that I would be able to sense her wants and needs during her labor and birth.  I also found a need to uplift her partner and support the bond between them…paying close attention not to interrupt their time but to support it with much care.  My questions and fears I had about my abilities quickly disappeared and the focus went off of me and onto what my heart burns with passion for…to help her connect with herself, her faith, her Savior, her partner, her maternal instincts, her hearts desires, her ability to have control over her body, birth and labor.  I found myself turn into a completely different person when I “work”.   My focus is my clients – learning to step back when I needed to, offer a hand when it’s wanted, inform when education is needed and most importantly to support the mother and father bond as they bring their baby into this world.  My main goal is to provide my clients with the support they need to make confident and educated decisions that will empower their intimate birthing experience.

I finished my training with DONA (Doulas of North America) in 2010 and chose not to turn in my certification due to the pregnancy of my 4th baby and my 1.5 year sabbatical.  In 2013, I decided to pick back up the books and head back in for more training, this time with BAI (Birth Arts International), a different organization with a whole new line of training.  I’m more than half way through my certification through them and am so excited to add CD (Certified Doula) after my name.

Here I am, 5 years after God placed this calling on my life, still amazed by His path!  I’ve studied, trusted, grown, cried, laughed, connected and experienced 24 beautiful couples with absolutely amazing labor and births!

My heart is full!

Kara – Smile Doula

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Photo: Me with my client Carrie

Delayed Cord Clamping

I wanted to share this great info on delayed cord clamping.  Penny Simkin is a well respected doula and child birth educator/counselor.  She works with many OB’s and midwifes and researches so much for us mommas.

I hope this helps you with your questions regarding cord clamping and your rights.

~Smile Doula

Welcome to my site!

Thank you for stopping in to visit my site!  I have lots to tell you and hope that you find the information and opinion that I provide helpful!  I will also be blogging about my personal life and why I do what I do.

This is my journey – that God has sent me on.  I hope you enjoy reading my journey of being a doula as well as a believer in Jesus, a wife, a mother of 4 and breastfeeding.

Thank you to all who has supported me in my dream and who continue to have my back!

Kara – Smile Doula