I am a native of California, having grown up in San Jose (yes, I do know the way!) and Morgan Hill. I came to Utah in 1989 to attend college. After 7 years, marriage and one daughter, I finally graduated from the University of Utah in 1996 with a degree in Community Health Education. Later that same year, I earned my CHES (Certified Health Education Specialist). After a stint working in a medical clinic doing patient education, I decided to pursue my dream: Working with pregnant women and their families. I certified as a childbirth educator in 1998 with ICEA (The International Childbirth Education Association) and began teaching classes independently in my home. After several years of teaching in my home, I started teaching at one of the local hospitals where I teach natural childbirth courses. In 2008 I decided ICEA wasn’t for me, and I went through the process to become certified with Lamaze. It was a good move, the Lamaze organization has been a good fit for me.
Ever since my first daughter was born, I have wanted to be a doula. However, it is a difficult job to do with children, so I knew it would have to wait until a different season of my life. I took my first doula training in 1997, while pregnant with my second daughter, knowing I would not be able to follow through on the idea right away. In 1999, with my daughters old enough to spend time with family while I attended births, I felt ready to begin my career as a doula. I chose to attend a second training to enhance my skills and give me some energy and enthusiasm. I started attending births and was soon certified as a doula with DONA International (2000-2013).
In addition to my doula work, I am a birth photographer and Lamaze childbirth educator. I love photography and take time weekly to just go out and shoot. I post many of my images on Flickr if you’d like to see them. My garden takes much of my time in the summer and I love to eat the vegetables I grow. (I often share with my classes and clients, too!) I am a book addict and have a large collection of books on pregnancy and birth.
Since many of my clients want to hear my birth experiences, I’ll include them here. My three births were very different, but I am grateful for them. Having been at the point where I felt an epidural was my only option, I can relate to women I’ve worked with who felt the same. But I also know what it takes to deliver unmedicated and I also know it can be done. There were many times during my second pregnancy and especially in labor, when I doubted myself and my strength, but I made it to my goal.
Pregnancy and birth are normal. Just as when a woman is not pregnant, there are things that occasionally go wrong, but unless proven otherwise, pregnancy & birth are no more dangerous than life itself.
This means that pregnant women should be treated as the normal, intelligent human beings they are, not as sick, delicate creatures who cannot think for themselves. Decisions about where, when and how to birth their babies should be made by the parents. Care providers are hired to provide expert opinions and guidance, not to usurp authority. In exchange, parents have the obligation to research, learn, and carefully consider the options available and the effects on their baby rather than blindly trust others.
I believe that every couple should invest time and energy into preparing for the birth of their child. Birth is not merely a means to an end, it is an event that changes a family and is imprinted on a woman’s life forever. The memories of their children’s births are among the most vivid memories a woman will ever have. Get any group of women together and ask them about their birth experiences, and you will hear of joy, pain, sorrow, triumph, and a myriad of other strong and powerful emotions.
In my labor support, I believe I am there to support the family, not just the laboring woman. Though her needs are the primary focus, my role is to help her partner and family to support her. I do plenty of hands on work, but I also continually strive to have fathers,
sisters, and other support to play an active role in supporting mom. I may teach dad how to do a massage technique on the mom’s hands and arms, then we each work on a hand. Or I may show dad how to massage her back and then leave it to him while I attend to other tasks. The mother and her family are the most important people in the birth, and I merely play a supporting role. I’ve worked with dads before who said they were concerned that hiring a doula would leave them with nothing to do, but then later said that I was able to bring them into the birth experience in ways they never would have thought of.
Many people ask if I believe it is wrong to use medications for labor and delivery. I do not feel that it is wrong, but I do feel that medications are overused in obstetrics today. Many women choose to have an epidural out of fear. They are told there are no side effects or risks, and are considered “difficult patients” if they choose not to have an epidural. I feel every couple should prepare for labor with a variety of non-medical coping skills and hold the possibility of medication in reserve. Even if an epidural is planned, there will be a need for these coping skills before the epidural can be administered.
My personal belief is that any well-educated decision made without pressure is the right one for a laboring couple. For some, that may mean an induction and epidural, for others an unmedicated birth.