About a year later I took my first doula training class from a midwife and doula in San Francisco, CA at "Natural Recourse". Then I volunteered at San Francisco General Hospital as a birth doula to get more experience. I also got massage training while I was in San Francisco at the San Francisco School of Massage.
In February of 2000 I had the privilege of taking a childbirth education training class form Pam England whom is the author of "Birthing from Within". That was an incredibly inspiring, informative and moving training.
In July of 2000 I quit my corporate job at Franklin Covey in San Francisco and decided to move back to Massachusetts where I grew up and start my holistic practice full time. The fall of 2000 I got Certified as a doula through DONA International www.dona.org. The following year I helped set up a doula volunteer program at Beverly Hospital similar to the doula volunteer program I was involved with in San Francisco.
From 2002 through 2003 I was involved in a research study at Brigham & Woman's Hospital as a birth doula. The PACE/LABOR Study was a 4-year, multi-center federally funded randomized trial examining the clinical consequences and physiologic correlates of epidural-related intrapartum fever for mother and neonate. Basically the study was researching whether when mothers got an epidural if they got a fever whether it was an "epidural fever" or an infection. We know that a common side effect to epidurals is a fever. But if a laboring mother gets a fever then the standard practice is to treat her with antibiotics because she may have an infection. Yet once she delivers her baby then the "fever" goes away and may have not "needed" the antibiotics. Dr. Lieberman, the principal investigator, is still analyzing the data.
In January of 2003 I, as the group owner/moderator, started a "Yahoo Group" for doulas in the Boston area. The group is for birth doulas, postpartum doulas, lactation consultants, childbirth educators and any other birth related support people or activist in the Massachusetts area. It is for discussion of professional issues, support, announcements of upcoming events, networking, etc. We welcome doulas, doulas-in-training, and any other childbirth professionals or activists. Initially I had about 10 to 20 members join the group. Over the years the group had expanded to cover all of Massachusetts and now has over 400 members. It is a very active yahoo group - click here for more details or to join: http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/massdoulas/#ans In February of 2006 I attended the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services Annual Conference in Boston, MA. It was a fantastic conference with cutting edge information about pregnant mothers rights and ways to make "Mother-Friendly Care a Reality." I encourage everyone to visit their website for a wealth of information: http://www.motherfriendly.org/index.php
In February 2006 I also attended my first home birth as a doula. My client was a committed mother who had had a cesarean with her first baby and was determined to have a HBAC (Home Birth After Cesarean) with her second. She was one of my bravest and birth educated clients I have worked with. She had a beautiful home birth delivery in her own dining room. That birth inspired me to begin to contemplate other ways I could educate the public about birth and woman's choices in childbirth.
My home-birth client was the first "Birth Activist" to join my Massachusetts Doulas Yahoo Group. Now she is one of the most active members in our group often answering questions and providing statistical articles and information to inform the members.
In September of 2007 my home-birth client and I Co-Produced the play
"Birth" by Karen Brody. Being a producer was a lot more work than I had initially envisioned. We interviewed and hired the director and held auditions for the actors. Then we had to find a location to have the play. We decided on the Cambridge Family YMCA Theater. Plus then we had to find a location to hold the rehearsals. There were so many details.
We also had a "Birth Fair" each evening of the play. At the "Birth Fair" we had local birth professionals display their products and services.
We had three performances of the play "Birth". The evening of Friday September 28th we had the play and the Birth Fair. Then on Saturday September 29th during the day we had a matinee performance of the play "Birth" and simultaneously we had the "Red Tent" event. The evening of Saturday September 2007 we had another "Birth Fair" and the final performance of the play "Birth." Each evening performance of the play was sold out and we raised $10,000 which was donated to:
International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN)
To learn more information about Karen Brody's play "Birth" please visit the website
I was thrilled to be able to use this Theatrical Art form as a way to educate woman about birth and birth choices. We had a very diverse audience ranging from College Students, to Senior Citizens, to pregnant woman, and husbands. It was wonderful to see how education can empower woman (and men) to have the births they choose.
My co-producer still remains a very active member in the birthing community. She recently opened a new chapter of the BirthNetwork for the greater Boston area:
"BirthNetwork of Greater Boston". BirthNetwork of Greater Boston is committed to helping women and families in the Greater Boston area have safe and fulfilling pregnancy and birth experiences while empowering them in their role as health care consumers. We promote an awareness of evidence-based care and informed decision-making through advocacy, information and support.
This closure threat caused an uproar in the birthing community and inspired local mothers and birth activist to create "The Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center". The committed had meetings to strategize ways to keep the Birth Center open and spread the news. They created a blog full of details about the campaign, wrote letters to the board, and had a rally on November 18th with over 100 people peacefully protesting the closure of the center. Channel 7 & 5, the Salem News as well as many other media organizations were covering the event.
The Beverly Hospital Board of Trustees took notice and decided:
"Thanks to the efforts of the Campaign to Save the North Shore Birth Center, on December 15, 2008, the Board of Trustees of the Northeast Health Corporation voted against the proposed closure of the North Shore Birth Center (NSBC). However, as conditions of its continued operation, patients will no longer be permitted to receive the handheld, Doppler-based fetal monitoring that was previously in use at NSBC in accordance with national birth center accreditation guidelines."
I am still worried for the future of the North Shore Birth Center and all Birth Centers across the county but I was honored to be a part of this campaigned by writing letters to the board, spreading the word and attending the rally that was significant in changing the minds of the Hospital Board and deciding to continue to keep the center open for now. Here is a link for more details:
As you can see woman's right and woman's birthing rights are very important to me. I recently attended the CIMS Webinar in June of 2009 called:
It was an insightful look and discussion about how often woman do not receive complete and informed consent regarding any treatment they are receiving. This is an issue that I will continue work to educate woman about their rights especially with their own body.
Woman have been giving birth for thousands of years and I trust in Mother Nature that woman's bodies "know" how to give birth and "know" how to grow a baby with out us doing much at all. I encourage woman to trust their bodies and trust in the collective "Laboring Energy of Mothers" (remember even right now as you are reading this there are thousands of woman in labor and giving birth to their babies today) to help them gain the strength and courage to birth from a place deep within themselves that is powerful and brave. Deep down inside each woman has a "Goddess" living inside of her to help her get through tough and challenging times. I inspire women to own their own "Goddess Energy" and to birth like their grandmothers and great grandmothers and strong woman through out the world. I encourage woman to take their birth back into their own hands and their own bodies.
Woman only get a few chances of having a beautiful, life affirming, inspiring, joyous, loving, and inspiring birth. I work with my clients to prepare them to have the birth they have always dreamed of.