Featured Doula – Heidi Roark
Heidi is one of the most kind and gentle women we know and we are blessed to have her on the Cocoon Birth team. Heidi personifies the meaning of “doula spirit” with her willingness to step in and help clients in need. Thanks, Heidi, for keeping us true to our roots and always being there to lend a kind word and helpful hand.
For the birth of my first, I went through MMC, but had to transfer near the end of my labor due to meconium. At that time, Tracy had just opened the birth center, and was the only midwife there. She was fortunately able to transfer with us and be at the hospital, thus slipping into a doula role, until my daughter was born a few short hours later. Her calm presence kept me focused and centered, and my husband felt supported and was able to be there for me emotionally without worrying about the rest. Tracy helped me throw out the negative things that I was hearing and focus on the positive. We were able to keep to our natural birth plan because of her help. The experience was so positive, and I wanted to help others have a positive experience too. Being a doula allows me the freedom to do this, as well as be a stay at home mom to 3 busy kids.
Childbirth is a natural, sacred event that our bodies were designed to do, and do it well. It is empowering. Medical intervention can be a blessing when it is needed, but can hinder moms and babies when used routinely and for arbitrary reasons. Each mom and family is unique, and the most important thing after any birth other than the health of mom and baby is that the family feels they were the main active participants in the birth of their baby, fully empowered to make their own decisions, and that all the rest was just support and icing on the cake.
As a doula, my job is to help guide moms and partners through the sacred time of childbirth by bringing encouragement, empowerment, and knowledge to help make the journey as comfortable and positive as I can. I bring no agendas or assumptions. I support a family’s right to choose the best choice for their family.
I was helping a mom at MMC with her first baby. She had been using Hypnobabies for the first part of labor, but once she was in active labor, and things were becoming more intense, she started to sing through her contractions. At first, she did hymns, and then later finished out her labor by singing a refrain for a Dixie Chicks song. It was such a unique way for her to go through contractions, and I remember sitting back amazed. It was a true testimony to the inner strength moms have within themselves, and the deep roots we draw from when we need the extra strength that birth calls for. It also showed the spirit of joy that comes with going through the childbirth process, rather than a spirit of fear, when a mom is confident, supported, and empowered.
A Doula Love Story…
About nine days before my first and only child was due to be born, I risked out of Mountain Midwifery due to preeclampsia. We were very disappointed, but we were referred to the Midwives at Swedish Hospital (who were also great!) I’d not even met with them yet when I went into labor two days later.
Fortunately, we’d hired our doula, Erica Lundgren, through Cocoon Birth about a month or so before all of that happened! She was a much-needed constant in our lives, during a time of transition. We met with Erica again right after I risked out of the birth center, and she told me how things would be different at Swedish, what we could and couldn’t do, what expectations we should have, and how our birth plan may change. It was very reassuring to know that no matter what happened, Erica was going to coach us through it and be our advocate.
Fortunately, my preeclampsia did not reach a critical stage, and I was able to give birth to Cora naturally and with no drugs after 18 hours of labor and 30 minutes of pushing.
Santiago was very grateful for Erica too. He was able to take a break when needed, hydrate and get in a meal or two, which enabled him to fully be in the moment with me. We were never in panic mode, and I think that’s because we had Erica’s wonderful guidance!
Thank you Erica, and thank you Cocoon Birth! =)
~ Kelly, Santiago, and Cora Valenzuela
We had planned to have our birth at the midwifery center and all was going to plan for most of the labor. When it was determined we had to be transferred to the hospital the midwives offered to call in a doula for us. Kari arrived and instantly we felt like we had an ally.
We had no real idea what a doula does. We knew they would help us determine mandatory v optional procedures, which is a big deal when thousands of options and opinions are being thrown at you. But Our doula did so much more.
The labor was long and my husband could finally sleep with Kari there. She made sure my husband ate and while he was napping took care of me. She talked with me, shared stories, fed me ice chips, helped made me comfortable. Because of our doula my husband could rest and I was still being lovingly cared for.
When the time came to push Kari was our advocate and was with us with every push until we were all crying with joy over our new baby.
She stayed with us until we were in our new room falling asleep. Her presence was our angel here on earth. She never interfered and we still feel like the birth was our experience – only blessed by our doulas presence.
Doulas provide practical guidance as well as moral support. We loved our doula!
It’s World Doula Week, March 22-28! This is a perfect time to reflect on what it means to be a doula or have a doula! Remember your doula this week. Send us your doula story to email@example.com for a chance to have your story appear on our blog and/or Facebook page!
For Valentine’s Day this year, Cocoon Birth collected a number of Doula Love Stories from our clients. We are going to share them on our blog and on our Facebook page this week to celebrate the amazing role doula’s play in helping families achieve positive, empowering birth experiences.
Our Featured Doula this month is Kari Gallinger. Kari is another of our long time doulas and supporters. We admire Kari’s strength as a mother and her generous doula spirit. She is always there is a moment of need, and her clients rave about her! Thanks Kari for your ongoing contribution to our mission!
What drew you to doula/birth work?
I spent some time in Juarez, Mexico volunteering at a birth center in 1994. I loved it and really wanted to become a Midwife but life really took a turn for me when I got married a year later and after believing that I couldn’t have children I was pregnant three months into our marriage. Then the birth of our first son changed me to the core. I really enjoyed being pregnant and giving birth like so many women do. When I was pregnant with our third son I was doing a lot of research and learned about the benefits of Doulas. I felt a strong calling to get certified and become a doula 2001. Thankfully, my husband was very encouraging for me to follow this path.
What is your philosophy regarding childbirth?
I believe that no two births are ever the same and that birth is such an extraordinary event both interpersonally and in the couple’s relationship. I believe that women deserve to feel safe and supported no matter what decisions they choose to make so that they can have the richest experience possible. I believe that mothers who have good feelings about their birth are more ready to bond with their baby’s, even when unexpected hurtle may pop up. I believe women are powerful beyond measure.
What is your philosophy as a doula?
I never seek to impose my wishes upon others but believe everyone has their own journey to travel. I enjoy getting to know my clients and helping them to be informed and prepared for how their birth will ideally transpire.
How do you incorporate your philosophy in your style of support as a doula?
As a Doula I bring a loving and calm presence, encouraging birthing women to trust in their own intuition. I support the mother in fulfilling her wishes by assisting her with alternative methods for comfort during labor. For example: physical positioning, aromatherapy, relaxation and visualization techniques, massage, counter pressure and movement to allow labor to continue on its natural path, and encourage her emotionally through all stages of labor.
What is a memorable moment you treasure as a doula and why?
My favorite part is after the baby comes, all that love and elation in the eyes and the sense of relief that the partners have on their faces for one another and the new baby. I like that people are very genuine in this time of great intensity. It’s just so real and surreal. I’m always amazed by the inner strength women find.
Any fun tidbits about yourself you would like to share?
I love traveling the country in my RV, with my husband and our four boys selling at the Gem & Mineral shows. We do all of our own cutting and polishing. I love cooking, gardening & sailing and anything to do with water.
Our featured doula of the month is Erica Lundgren. Erica is a CAPPA certified labor doula who completed the Cocoon Birth Advanced Practice training with us in our early days with Mountain Midwifery Center and has been with us ever since. Thank you Erica for being an integral part of our doula family!
I was drawn to becoming a doula like many, after the birth of my first child. I realized that I was passionate about all things birth! I couldn’t wait to start my journey to supporting families during such a transformative time in their lives.
What is your philosophy regarding childbirth?
I believe that birth is a normal process that usually does best when allowed to occur naturally, and that women need to feel safe and supported in order to best support that process.
As a doula, I support women and their partners no matter what their decisions may be. This is their birth, and they deserve to have the resources and caring support they need to be at peace with their journey. We never know how a birth will go, so it’s best to stay open-minded, positive and flexible!
I try to be an unbiased and evidence-based source of information, give my clients confidence as they prepare for their birth, and encourage them to focus on a positive birth experience. I strive to bring a calm, confident energy to every birth I attend.
An impossible question, as Doulas are lucky enough to witness so many amazing moments! But, my favorites are when clients keep in touch with me, and invite me to be with them again as their family grows – there is no sweeter compliment!
Any fun tidbits about yourself you would like to share?
My daughter is the “in caul” baby pictured on MMC’s website, and I still love seeing that picture, it brings me right back to that magical moment!
We’re so happy we reached 200 Facebook likes that we’re going to give away one of our gorgeous Cocoon Birth tote bags, perfect for hauling your doula “bag of tricks” to a birth, great for those quick trips out with your little ones, super for toting library books, or a picnic lunch, or pumping supplies, whatever you need! Follow the link below to enter!
Thanks to our Facebook fans and all our amazing clients and doulas! Here’s to a fantastic 2013!
I was drawn to birth work from my own births. I became a doula after the birth of my second son, I had two very different birth experiences and felt drawn to help women have positive emotions surrounding the day they met their babies.
My philosophy is that ALL women should feel empowered during childbirth. Empowerment can look very different to every family and I always try to be at least one person who believes in them.
My mantra as a doula is “it’s not my birth.” It may sound cliche, but I think it’s an important lesson I had to learn over the years. I have done 171 births as a doula and find the more you can allow a family to own their own choices, the less burned out you get
I incorporate these philosophies by always helping my clients have “informed choice” as opposed to “informed consent.” Once they have all their options, I stand back and support them in their choice.
It’s so hard to pick a memorable moment as a doula, I have loved every client I’ve worked with! It’s always special though when clients keep in touch, come back for their next babies or get involved in birth work themselves because of their positive experiences!
The most exciting thing in my life right now is that I am working toward becoming a home birth midwife! I am in my internship and getting to act as primary midwife under supervision. It’s such an honor to be able to serve families in this way too!