“The way a woman gives birth can affect the whole of the rest of her life. How can that not matter? Unless the woman herself does not matter.”
Beverley Beech and Belinda Phipps
The way I came to birth work profoundly affects the way I practice as a doula. My own birth experience ignited my passion for this work. I truly believe that positive birth experiences can help you find the strength and confidence to conquer the world. I’m here to help you find yours. Here is how I found mine.
After the initial shock of finding out I was pregnant, I became really, really excited. I always knew I wanted to be a mom one day, even if it didn’t seem like the right time. I was singing at a music festival in Mississippi when I found out, and so the pregnancy became my happy secret. I snuck away at every possible opportunity to secretly read pregnancy books. In the process, I stumbled upon some very shocking statistics that led me to dig deeper and challenge my own assumptions about birth. I wanted to know why our birth outcomes were so far behind other developed nations in the world, and, more importantly, what I could do to improve my chances of a positive outcome. So I dove in head first. I just couldn’t get enough information. I vividly remember one morning drinking my decaf coffee, reading one of my secret books, looking out at the lake at my home stay, and thinking, “This is so amazing. I think I chose the wrong career path.” I quickly dismissed that idea because it seemed so crazy, but there was no denying that I was enthralled by the process of pregnancy and birth.
Highs and Lows
I was extremely lucky to have an easy pregnancy. I felt amazing. More than amazing really. I felt strong and powerful and gorgeous. To me, I was at the peak of my womanhood. Nothing could bring me down, until something did.
When I came home to New York after my gig ended. I went back to my previous restaurant job. My co-workers and regular patrons got to watch my belly grow as I got more pregnant, and everyone was constantly supportive. But once I got too big, things changed. When I was about 8 months pregnant, my schedule was changed so that I worked only on less busy (and less lucrative) days. They told me point blank that it was because I was pregnant. When I questioned them about pregnancy discrimination laws, things started to get ugly. Stories changed and fingers were pointed. Eventually I would be told that I could not return to regular shifts so long as I was breastfeeding. I still felt amazing physically, but for the first time in my life, I felt the impact of being discriminated against simply for being a woman. I was crushed.
An Empowering Birth Experience
I was ultimately very fortunate to have an amazing birth experience. My early research led me to choose a provider that aligned perfectly with the way I wanted to give birth. They supported me and validated me throughout my pregnancy and helped me feel strong again when it was time to give birth. I delivered my son James in November of 2015 at the Mt. Sinai West Birthing Center.
The strength that I gained from my birth gave me confidence and a new perspective. I fought back against the workplace discrimination. Somehow, though, that didn’t seem like enough. I knew that I couldn’t be still after my experience. I know that I had to help people feel powerful during their own journeys to parenthood too. I learned what a profound impact a good, supported birth experience can have on someone, and I wanted to help everyone feel that. Everyone deserves to feel a little bit superhuman when they have a baby.
A New Mission: Helping Women Achieve Powerful Birth Experiences
It took a few months after my son’s birth to take the jump from opera singer to doula. But I finally did it. I completed a doula training through DONA International and a few months later I joined a doula mentorship program at Manhattan Birth. I learned so much during that time, both through the guidance of my mentor as well as through a number of advanced trainings for things like breastfeeding and holistic newborn care. The program gave me the confidence to go out and support families through this amazing, powerful life transition. Since beginning my journey, I have supported dozens of families through a wide variety of births- from totally natural home births to planned cesareans and many situations in between. I continue learning from each birth that I attend, I am so honored to be able to call this my job!