This is a partial transcript of an interview with Robin by local newborn & family photographer, Sara Bliss.
What is your philosophy?
What I know is that women care deeply about their birth experiences and remember them forever – how they felt, what the atmosphere was like, how they were cared for. Birth is such a profound and intense experience with no two births alike, even for the same woman. My goal as a birth doula is to get to know my clients, learn what is important to them and what they want my role to be. I answer their questions and help clients know their options. I often do quite a bit of teaching ahead of birth. In labor, I show the birth partner ways to support. My role is to provide information, offer comfort measures and be a calm, supportive presence.
In the role of postpartum doula, I find out what my client’s support needs are and address them. A lot of new parents live far from their own families and support systems. The in-home services I provide are often a combination of answering questions and practical, hands-on support. New parents appreciate having someone over who is comfortable with newborn needs and behavior and who understands what they are going through.
What do you like best about being a doula?
What I like best about being a doula is using my skills and strengths to be useful at such an important time in people’s lives. I know first hand what a difference our doula made to my husband and me. I love being able to give back what I was given.
Why did you decide to become a doula?
I have always had a great love of children and babies ever since I can remember and an interest in pregnancy and birth. I worked for many years as an Infant/Toddler teacher at A Child’s Garden Preschool here in Albuquerque. I know the importance of early experiences in the lives of parents and babies. In 1992, when I was pregnant with my second child, my husband and I took childbirth classes with our neighbor, Pam England, Albuquerque midwife and author of the well-known book, Birthing from Within. Pam was the first person I heard mention “doulas” and she recommended we look into hiring one for our birth. (Doulas were re-invented and the doula movement started around 1990 by a group of psychologists who were studying maternal and infant bonding. The word doula comes from Greek and means someone who serves.) My own births and having such a positive experience with a doula, myself, were key. I thought about becoming a doula for years before taking steps to make it a reality. Coincidently, a friend and previous coworker had asked me to go with her and her husband for the birth of their child in 2003. When she asked me, she didn’t know I had had dreams of being a doula. Attending that birth re-ignited my doula spark. The timing was finally right in 2007. I left my work at the preschool and went to Seattle Midwifery School for my doula training intensive. I went to Seattle because Penny Simkin, doula trainer and author of the book, The Birth Partner, which I had read when I was pregnant, was teaching the labor support course there. The community at A Child’s Garden Preschool was very supportive during my career change from teacher to doula. Mothers of children from my Infant/Toddler classes signed up to be my first doula clients and sent their friends. One parent, a midwife, recommended me to the women in her practice. That early support provided the foundation for my doula business. At this time I have worked with more than 150 families and continue to learn with each birth and postpartum experience.
Do you have a specialty?
I enjoy both kinds of doula work and they are a good balance for each other. As far as a specialty, I would say it is in-home support following birth. Working with families and providing solutions to the challenges of early parenthood is my special niche. I have a lot of experience in the realm of breastfeeding assistance, baby soothing techniques and helping parents and babies to get more sleep. In-home postpartum doula support reduces stress and quickly raises the confidence of new parents. It’s what I love to do.