doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

in addition to birth links i will be adding a new series to birthy goodness fridays called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers.  each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i’m really excited to start this series and share the wisdom of these women with you.


my first kind doula is someone dear to me. she’s been a family friend for years, my wedding photographer, a parenting inspiration and birthwork crush. i think she’s pretty rad and she’s my first doula spotlight. I give you Mary Catherine Hamelin of Magical Days Blog and birth worker and aspiring midwife with Barefoot Birth in Tampa, Florida:

1. when did you decide to pursue doulahood?

I always sort of knew I was more interested in pregnancy and birth than most of my peers–I was 10 when my youngest brother was born and my mother was always very open with us about her births, natural, emergency cesarean, and then a VBAC. I was 12 when my nephew was born and attended a couple of childbirth education classes with my aunt. That old copy of “A Child is Born” with all the amazing in utero photography was well read at my house.

I had strong designs on how I was going to give birth to my daughter, but despite my reading and preparation I was met with the standard “get into bed, put on your gown, time to be monitored” as soon as I entered the hospital environment. I was blessed with a shift change and a nurse who had been a midwife in England who got me up out of bed and moving around the way I knew I wanted to. She essentially served as my doula–hands on physical support, strong emotional support, and then leaving me alone to do my own instinctual thing. I had an awesomely empowered first birth.

After my daughter was born I heard stories from other mothers who didn’t feel as supported, and it seemed so wrong to me–that during such a pivotal time in a family’s life they might feel alone and disrespected, uneducated on their options. The Business of Being Born was released right around that time, and after I watched it I was up in arms. I looked up Midwifery Education programs, learned about doulas, and decided that with a wee baby still in my arms, signing up for a doula training was the first step.

2. what do you think is your favorite part of your support role? what is the most challenging?

My favorite part of serving families is obviously that moment of birth, of realizing that whether things happened according to plans or not, a baby and a family were just born. But also those moments afterward when I get to hear about how GOOD they feel–how they did something they didn’t think they could do, what they learned, when they worried, when they knew everything would be okay…the listening and the learning is my favorite part. And of course, I also love hearing that a family is so glad they hired me. It feels good to know I made a difference in the way a family embarks on their parenting path.

The most challenging thing is supporting families through prenatal choices that contradict what they’ve expressed they want from their experience, saying they really want a certain kind of care or birth but then choosing a birth setting and care provider that are repeatedly meeting them with opposition. It breaks my heart when families feel like they have to fight to have a positive experience.

Leaving my children to attend births is also a challenge. I’m recently getting back to work in a new community after moving from another state, so I’ve had to re-establish childcare support and helpful friends who are available on-call and understand the unpredictability of birth. Having to be awake and ready to parent after an all night birth isn’t easy. My family is on this journey with me for sure, and it’s always interesting!

3. where do you see your path in birth work heading?

My birth work has made a sort of natural transition into studying Midwifery. After a couple of years working as a doula I started feeling called to serve families more directly, to have a greater impact on their care. My original plan was to get my CM or CNM, as most of the homebirth midwives in New York City (where most of my doula experience is from) are, and be able to work in hospital, birth center, and home settings throughout my career. After moving to a very different birth climate in Florida though, I’m feeling drawn to out-of-hospital birth and traditional midwifery.

I’m assisting a couple of wonderful homebirth midwives right now and this Fall will be working on board a rad bus that is serving as a mobile maternity unit for low-income families around the community as well as our own homebirth families. I also teach childbirth education classes and will be helping to facilitate some family support groups. I look forward to continuing as a doula and birth assistant when I begin Midwifery School, hopefully next year.

I’d like to thank MC for kicking off this series. You can find more about her birth work with her partners at Barefoot Birth and you can follow her adventures with her family in their tropical cottage at Magical Days Blog.

in addition, are you a doula that would like to be a part of the doula spotlight? Send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks!


2 thoughts on “doula spotlight

  1. Pingback: birth links | momjeanz

  2. Pingback: the doula spotlight | momjeanz

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