the doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

this post is part of an ongoing series 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.

i’d like to introduce my first west coast doula. Katie Hamilton has the distinction of being the first doula to buy one of my birth work t-shirts, other than myself! we connected through a mutual friend and now I’m honored to host her as my first left coast interviewee. Katie offers her support as Mama Nurture Birth Services in Los Angeles and the South Bay area. I present the doula wisdom of Katie Hamilton:

katiebabybellyKatie & her own beautiful baby belly

1. how long have you been a doula and what made you pursue doulahood?

At the age of 15, I finally got the news that I would have a sibling. I was involved right from the get go. From helping with the baby registry, to attending the Lamaze classes…I was there. I remember falling asleep on the vinyl couch in the hospital waiting room while doing my algebra homework. I was called in the room during pushing and got to experience the miracle of birth. Upon arriving home, I walked around the house reading the infamous “What to expect…” book to my mom. I was probably the rare teen that knew what meconium was, clipped my sisters fingernails, and knew what developmental stage we would be approaching next. To this day I sometimes refer to her as my “first baby”. I remember announcing then that I wanted to be a midwife. I didn’t end up becoming one but always looked forward to becoming a mother myself. I had my first daughter at the hospital with the midwives. Despite a good outcome and the normal, unmedicated birth that I wanted…I wasn’t completely satisfied with my experience. I begged the nurse to get in the shower, and was refused. In fact I was one of those unusual cases where I dilated from 2 to 10 in 2 hours and had they had sent me home like they wanted to I would have ended up having the baby out of the hospital. I had to be my own advocate when really I just wanted the staff to be my side, honor my instincts that told me exactly what I needed to birth my baby. I was a square peg in a round hole because I didn’t get the epidural that would make my labor more predictable and manageable. At last my midwife appeared (it was 3am), and insisted they open a room for me and allow me to use the shower. Well, within an hour and a half I was nursing my baby.

After that medicalized birth experience, I did my research, and decided that home birth would be the best option for me. I was the most incredible experience I could have ever hoped for. My home was my sanctuary. I had my favorite foods, my favorite flowers, positive affirmations to pause and look at on my walls, a warm tub, my little girl eagerly awaiting her sister, a supportive husband, and trusted midwives. My daughter was born peacefully in the water with her big sister by her side.

As a La Leche League leader leading mother to mother breastfeeding support groups in our area, I am always hearing birth stories and connecting with other new moms. I found myself loving to support them and at the same time feeling like I wanted to do and know more. I learned about the wonderful Ana Paula Markel and Bini Birth, and decided to take the DONA doula training course. Sitting in class, with all those women who cared just as much about the sacredness of birth and empowering families in making informed choices- I knew I had found my calling. I began my business fall of 2012 and haven’t stopped celebrating birth since!

2. a doula’s support is informational, emotional and physical. do you have a favorite? what makes it your favorite?

One of my favorite parts of the doula’s role is the informational aspect. I meet a handful of amazing, respectful, personable OB’s. I also meet quite a lot of OB’s that are simply not practicing evidence based medicine. I believe I have helped guide a birth in a healthier direction for both mom and baby by just providing my clients with the current research they need to ask the right questions and sometimes even feel confident saying they want something different. Something as simple as asking, “What’s my Bishop Score” can give a mom an extra few days to go into labor on their own versus being induced and increase their chances for a surgical birth. Asking for intermittent monitoring rather than continuous on their birth plan can make the difference between a manageable labor in which a variety of different comfort techniques can be used, or a labor where finding necessary comfort is more challenging and freedom is very limited.

Seeing a woman reach her limit and push past it, and the elation and pride that comes out of that is like nothing else. There is a new respect for our bodies as being creative, our psyche as one that is strong, and a feeling that one can surmount anything. We carry that satisfaction and sufficiency into our days and weeks postpartum. Every woman deserves to feel safe and protected in labor. The doula is an asset to the emotional experience of both the mother and partner. The experience is treated as sacred, a rite of passage to be honored and enjoyed. Even when things don’t go quite as planned, a doula helps the preserve the memory of the mother being cared for and supported.

3. how do you answer the question “what is a doula”?

A fellow doula sister of mine, Kelsie Packer, described the doula’s role perfectly. “My role is to be an extension of your hands, voice and heart. I support and empower the mother in all women ” -kelsie packer (truladoula)

I’d like to thank Katie for sharing her thoughts and words on the doula spotlight. If you would like to know more about Katie’s services and support work {or take a peek at her pretty family} you can find her at her Mama Nurture website or her facebook page.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks! Also, would you like a t-shirt? {smile & wink}

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