Getting To Know Rachael

What’s your view of childbirth?

Childbirth is beautiful and magical, it is one of my favorite things. I am always in awe of a couple as they ride the waves of labor. It is an honor to be invited to such a wonderful experience. It is something that takes time and patience… waiting for your body to work through the labor that was perfectly designed for you! I do not think birth is a “medical process” that needs a great deal of intervention… barring any true medical complications, waiting for your body to work through it (with some great support and comfort measures that offer relief) is generally the best and safest option.

What do you think of medication during birth?

Everything has a time and a place. I wouldn’t ever want my clients to think that options have been taken off the table because a doula is there. I think everyone is different and we have to look at the whole situation before deciding what the next best step is. I think a lot of education and preparation before the birth is key to using pain relief at the right time or not at all during the birth. I have supported moms with and without pain medication and I have used it for 2 of my 3 births.

Why did you become a doula?

The natural birth of my last child really opened my eyes to how great childbirth can be, feeling totally supported. A few months after my last birth I got signed up to be a Bradley Teacher and took my Doula Training… I have always loved birth and I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to support another couple through this part of life.

Do you offer any special services?

I do placenta encapsulation. I am certified in using a Guatemalan scarf, the rebozo for labor techniques and tools. I also am a car seat safety technician. I am planning to attend the Spinning Babies workshop in October.

What type of pre — and post-labor support do you provide?

I do about 2 prenatal visits with each of my couples. I do not want anyone to feel like I am a stranger in the labor room. I spend 1-2 hours immediately postpartum with my clients to help make sure you are settled and assist with the first nursing session if you need it. We also meet again once you are home to chat and talk about the birth together and any postpartum questions you may have. My goal in all the pre and post support is that you feel ready and supported for the time of life you are in or preparing for. If you need more support on either end, I am happy to offer it in any way that works best for you!

When will you arrive at my birth?

When you are ready! That generally happens when active labor starts. I am available by phone for early labor support as well. During our prenatal visits we do early labor prep/practice so your coach knows how to support you through that time.

Which hospitals have you worked at?

I have been lucky enough to work at both hospitals in the area. I have had great experiences at Carle and Presence!

Are you certified? If so, by what organization?

I am a DONA Certified Doula & a Certified Bradley Method Instructor. I am certified by Gena Kirby to work with the rebozo and NHTSA to check and to educate about the proper use of car seats.

Tell us about your family. What do you do for fun?

My husband Matt and I have been married for 9 years. Together we have 3 kids: Abigail who is 8, Luke who is 6 and Brady who is 3. We have only been in Central Illinois for 2 years now but have really loved it. We love to travel and see new places together. The kids are busy with school, girl scouts and sports.all

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Get to Know Jill

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What’s your view of childbirth?

Childbirth, especially the first time, is the most life-changing event that a woman can go through. The pregnant woman walks into her birthing place without a child, and walks out as a mother; feeling a stronger love than she ever though possible, and responsible for the well being of a tiny little human being. It’s miraculous, overwhelming, exhausting, and full of the biggest mixed bag of emotions.

Physiologically, I view childbirth as a generally safe, natural thing. And by natural, I mean that it is a normal life event for a baby to be born. Barring any emergent or otherwise abnormal situation, childbirth does not need to be “managed,” rather it will progress on its own, in hours or days, until the baby is born.

I believe that in our society, we have lost the valuable passing down of information and experiences among women. Childbirth used to be something that was commonly seen, discussed, cherished and valued. Now it is hidden behind hospital doors, fake TV shows and movies. Women are so much more likely to fear what they do not understand or know, and childbirth does not have to be something that is feared.

What do you think of medication during birth?

For most women, childbirth is not a walk in the park. It can be uncomfortable, painful, or downright excruciating for different women. One of the questions that nurses ask upon admittance at the hospitals here is, “what is an acceptable level of pain for you?” A lot of people scoff at this question, but I think the premise behind it is important–we are all different people, and we all have different levels of pain tolerance and what we are willing to go through. Each woman absolutely has a right to decide if and when she wants pain medication or an epidural during labor. If a client of mine decides to use medication during birth, I view it as my job to make sure they are fully educated and have a full understanding of the side effects and possible outcomes when using pain medication. It is not just a simple thing that is isolated in the body–pain medication can effect the whole labor experience, and depending on the medication, can also effect the baby. It’s important to me that women understand everything before they choose to make a decision about using pain medication during birth.

There are other medications that can be administered during birth that are not related to pain management. Antibiotics for Group B Strep, medications to help manage blood pressure, blood sugars, and other issues that a woman might be dealing with. Of course, if they are medically indicated, using these medications is important and I would never stand in the way of or discourage a woman from using a medication that she believed was important for her or her baby’s well being.

Why did you become a doula?

Do you want the short story or the long story? 🙂

After having my interest piqued about natural fertility, I sort of followed the rabbit trail to natural childbirth, midwifery, and doulas. After graduating with a B.S. from U of Illinois, I really began learning about childbirth, and decided that I wanted to become a midwife. I started back to school to get the pre-requisites for an RN degree, when I realized that being a midwife at that point in my life did not make sense. I knew I wanted to have kids, and I knew I wanted to be able to stay home with them. Being a midwife just did not fit that bill. It was then that I decided that doula-ing was the answer! I was able to have a family, stay home with my kids, and decide when to take clients and how many to take. It has been an amazing opportunity to be able to have the family that I’ve always wanted, and still be involved in the “birth world.”

Do you offer any special services?

Along with being a birth doula, I offer postpartum doula services, teach Fertililty Awareness Method classes, and offer babywearing instruction. I am excited to be taking a Spinning Babies class coming up soon, and am in the application process to become an instructor for Evidence Based Birth. I consider myself a life-learner, and enjoy constantly expanding my scope of skills!

What type of pre — and post-labor support do you provide?

Prenatally, I meet with clients 2-3 times to get to know them, their hopes and dreams and fears about birth, and answer any questions/provide information that they may request regarding different aspects of pregnancy and childbirth. I help my clients create a birth plan, and generally make sure they feel prepared for their upcoming labor and delivery.

As a birth doula, I remain with clients 1-2 hours after birth to make sure that breastfeeding is established and everyone gets settled. I check in via phone within the first 24 hours, and plan to stop by the client’s home within the first 1-2 weeks to see how they are doing, answer any questions they have, process their birth experience, and dote over their sweet new bundle!

As a postpartum doula, my postpartum support ranges from cooking and cleaning, to newborn care, to being a listening ear…it’s my job to meet whatever needs my client has. I try to meet with clients before their baby is born to discuss how I might serve them during their postpartum time, and we come up with a plan that works for them.

When will you arrive at my birth?

The short answer is: I will arrive at your birth whenever you want me there!

I do ask for at least 1 hour from the point that you call until I can get to you–I have my own family and need to make sure that I get them taken care of before I join you. I generally support clients through early labor via phone–advice and suggestions and information given through text or phone calls. Most clients ask me to join them once active labor is established and they need more support getting through contractions.

Which hospitals have you worked at?

We are lucky to have two great options for labor and delivery in the CU area! I have worked at both Carle and Presence hospitals in Urbana, and Gibson Area Hospital in Gibson City. I have also assisted clients during home births.

Are you certified? If so, by what organization?

I have completed birth doula certification through DONA International. I am not certified as a postpartum doula–I feel that after having two kids of my own and supporting many friends through their own family expansions, I have enough life experience to effectively and professionally support any new mother through their postpartum time. I am currently working on the (very involved!) certification process for teaching the Fertility Awareness Method classes, and am also in the certification process for becoming an Evidence Based Birth instructor.

Tell us about your family. What do you do for fun?

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I am married to Jason, who is a production director for a Christian radio station in town. We have two kids, Annabelle (4) and Oliver (almost 16 months at the time of this post). I am just starting the home school process with Annabelle, and consider it both amazing and crazy! Annabelle is a very passionate, energetic, strong-willed kiddo. She cares deeply and is very loving and kind to those around her. Oliver is ALL BOY. He is rough and tumble, full of energy and life! He’s also my little snuggle bug, and melts my heart every day. He definitely keeps me on my toes as he bolts for the street the minute he is outside! My kids are amazing and exhausting, and I can’t imagine life without them.

When I’m not being wife, mom, or doula, you can usually find me out running on the road or trails around town. I also love to read, and often am reading 3 or 4 books at a time because I just can’t make up my mind. Jason and I love to cook and eat good food, so we make it a point to do some yummy at-home date nights after the kids go to bed, experimenting with different foods, and enjoying cooking things and sitting down to quiet dinners on our own.

My life is busy and full, but it is so, so fun. I consider myself very blessed!

Getting to know Theresa.

How long have you been working with moms and babies?
It seems like forever! Prior to becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner, I spent my nursing career in hospital pediatrics and neonatal intensive care. For the last 22 years as a pediatric nurse practitioner, my clinical focus, and my passion, has been supporting breastfeeding relationships for moms and babies. Only 3 % of IBCLC’s are advanced practice providers, with the ability to diagnose and treat. This allows me to manage complex breastfeeding situations, including tongue-tie, low milk supply, and babies with medical issues. I love challenges, applying research into practice, and synthesizing new information. Think of me as the “Breastfeeding Detective” : )
For the best start, when should we schedule a visit with you?
If you have any special concerns, a prenatal visit can be really beneficial. It gives you the opportunity to discuss concerns one on one and to have a plan in place to maximize success. Once baby arrives, I can see you at the hospital, at your home, or in my office. One benefit to home visits besides convenience, is that I can help you identify your “nursing nest” to maximize comfort and support during those early days when you are both learning.
Do you teach any breastfeeding classes?
Yes, I think taking a breastfeeding class is the best way to get off to a good start! I offer breastfeeding classes privately, integrated into childbirth classes, and group classes at Christie Clinic.
Can you meet with us the day our baby is born if we need support immediately?
One of the benefits to being in private practice is being able to build flexibility into my schedule, which means I can usually see you the day your baby is born.
How far do you travel?
I will travel a 1-hour radius from Champaign, and do not charge for mileage within a 30 minute radius from Champaign.
What can we expect from a visit?
Unlike clinic visits, the rhythm of my visit is determined by what your baby needs when I arrive. If your little one is sleeping, we have time to talk about your concerns and birth and breastfeeding history. If baby is hungry, feeding comes first! Visits take about 1.5-2 hours, pre and post feeding weights are recorded on my very accurate scale, concerns are identified, and together we come up with a plan for success. I will give you a written plan of care, and send your pediatrician a comprehensive note about the visit.
Tell us about your family. What do you do for fun?
I have three beautiful daughters, one finishing high school, and two in college. As much as I loved being their mommy when they were little, I have to say it’s just awesome watching them grow into fine young adults. I am also “Grammy” to a sweet little grandson. Weekends, you can find me on our family farm, taking care of my dad, doing battle with weeds, and growing way too many fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Getting to Know Shannon

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What’s your view of childbirth?  I approach childbirth with a similar lens in which I view all of life. Childbirth cannot be controlled, nor can it be forced into a one-size-fits-all box (no matter how hard we might try). It will not ever be 100% predictable and it requires a tremendous dedication to the constant practice of letting go. Childbirth comes in a wide variety of shapes and textures, containing both unforeseen joys and wonderful surprises. Sometimes, it also contains unexpected sharp turns that can really throw a woman’s body, mind and heart for a jagged loop.

I believe that female bodies are designed for the act of childbirth. Overall, I believe it is a physiologic process that progresses best when we simply get out of the way of a laboring woman’s body. I think there are actions we can take to increase a mother’s comfort and peace; sometimes, that action is simply being quietly present for her. “Surrender” is my personal motto for birth.

What do you think of medication during birth?  I think medication, like many options for labor and birth, have a time and place. I believe the choice to use or decline medication in labor and birth is up to each woman and her partner (whether it be for pain relief, labor augmentation or treatment of specific health conditions). Because I believe we are all individuals, with unique preferences, backgrounds and health histories, I do not support the routine use of any medication during birth. I do not think there is only one way to handle labor or its variations/complications. Barring an emergency, there are always an array of alternatives and options for a family to choose from.

I think when a woman is given access to complete and unbiased information regarding those options, she is in a better position to make decisions that fit her and her partner best. Furthermore, I believe when she is also given the freedom and space to make those decisions (whatever they may be on the spectrum of options), that woman will walk away from her birth experience feeling empowered and whole rather than victimized and broken. So, in my opinion, the use of medication, or lack thereof, does not determine a woman’s experience and should not be the primary emphasis. Rather, I believe it is how supported she has felt in finding her own voice and how well her voice has been respected during her childbirth journey.

Why did you become a doula?  I actually became interested in childbirth and the midwifery profession one summer during college. I stumbled upon some childbirth books in a local library and spent an entire afternoon soaking in what I was reading. At that time, I was neither married nor pregnant, so I filed the information away in my brain for another day. Fast forward to my first pregnancy 3+ years after that: I recalled being so intrigued by the physiological process of birth described in those books and began to seek out a childbirth education series to attend. I fully enjoyed learning about my body’s designs, how it was working, what labor looked like, what I could do to stay comfortable and what was involved with breastfeeding and the postpartum period! Learning about childbirth awakened in my soul stirrings of a deeper purpose.

While my first birth experience did not go as I had hoped, it did help me find my voice. In my second pregnancy and birth, I learned how to actually use my voice. The difference between those two experiences was transformative for me. The realization that I could choose to say “yes” or “no” or even “maybe” to any option offered helped me begin to break some of my people-pleasing tendencies. Moreover, having my choices directly honored and respected in practice was so empowering for me as a woman, a wife and a mother! Thus were planted further seeds of desire in supporting women as they walk the curvy path of motherhood and beyond. I wanted all women to leave their pregnancy and birth experiences knowing the joy, courage and power I experienced. I hoped to see all of us move forward in our journeys with confidence and peace (as opposed to the fear and anxiety that so often surrounds these chapters of life).

When my 4th child was about 2 years old and life felt a bit more manageable, I began to seek out information on doula trainings. I was not sure if the timing was right or my family life could handle it. After spending much time in reflection and quiet, I brought the idea to my amazing husband. He backed me 100% with loving support in pursuing doula work as a profession. So, I jumped in and signed up for the next training that was closest to me!

Do you offer any special services?  In addition to labor support, I also teach a comprehensive 9-week childbirth education series and offer post-partum belly binding services (fashioned from the Malaysian tradition of Bengkung belly binding). This coming fall, I will also be attending a Spinning Babies workshop to further expand my knowledge on how to keep mothers more comfortable in both pregnancy and birth!

I would describe myself as a continuing education enthusiast and conference fanatic. If I had loads of expendable income, a good chunk of that would be spent on increasing my knowledge base. I love to learn! As a result, I have a mental list of special trainings and workshops I hope to attend in the future. Now, I just need to find a generous benefactor!

What type of pre- and post-labor support do you provide?  Prenatally, I will meet with couples to explore what kind of vision and hopes they have for their birth. Sometimes, prenatal meetings involve a bit of childbirth education or lessons in what to expect. There is always some discussion about preferred comfort measures and exploration of any lingering fears or anxieties they are facing in that particular pregnancy. These meetings are also a great time to just get to know one another better; clients come to know what services and behavior to expect from me and I learn how to best serve them as a matchless unit. Getting to know their special preferences, unique history and individual desires equips me with the tools needed to give them optimal support in their labor and birth. Should questions arise in their pregnancy, I offer evidence-based resources to help aid their decision-making process as well as encouraging open, positive dialogue with their chosen careprovider. Occasionally, couples request my presence at prenatal appointments with their careproviders and I am happy to accommodate them.

After baby arrives, I remain with the family for the first couple of hours. In that time, I continue to offer support in helping keep mom and baby physically comfortable. This might include making sure mom receives food and liquids to replenish her energy stores, helping her to the bathroom for the first time or providing a setting conducive to the initiation of breastfeeding. Some couples are eager to verbally process their birth right after the event, while others need more time and distance to discuss it. I also follow-up with a postpartum visit when baby is 1-4 weeks old to address that need and help assess what further resources a family might find helpful, as they step into a new parenting life.

When will you arrive at my birth?  To be physically present for families I serve, I usually arrive sometime after active labor has been established. However, I am also in continuous contact with them throughout their pregnancies and the early phases of labor via phone messages or conversations. Since the early phases of labor can look different, the kind of support I provide is tailored to each woman’s experience. This might involve encouraging her when she is feeling down or overwhelmed. It could be suggesting a list of activities or comfort measures to try. It may be reaffirming that what she is experiencing is within the “normal” realm of what to expect in labor. Or, it could simply be providing a safe space and listening ear to what she is encountering in that early stage.

Which hospitals have you worked at?  I have supported birthing families both in their home settings and at Carle Foundation Hospital. I look forward to assisting families at Presence Covenant Medical Center in the near future! Having had four homebirths myself, I am familiar and very comfortable in that environment. With that being said, my previous professional hat was as a hospital-based Speech Language Pathologist (SLP). So, I am also well-versed in how they operate and at ease in the hospital birthing room.

Are you certified? If so, by what organization?  I trained with toLabor (The Organization of Labor Assistants for Birth Options & Resources) as a professional birth doula in April of 2014. I have finished all of the “hands-on” work towards my certification and actively working towards completing the paperwork. I hope to obtain my formal certification by January of 2016! Of course, as a mother of five children, it seems like life continually throws curveballs to slow down that process. J

Tell us about your family. What do you do for fun?  I married my fabulous husband, Heath, in 2003. We recently welcomed our fifth child into our family, so describing our life as “chaotic” might be a bit of an understatement. In short, we are an imperfect homeschooling family, striving to grow in kindness and love. Let me introduce you to our wonderfully crazy crew:

Our oldest son, Cavan, is 11. He loves all things mechanical and enjoys figuring out what makes things tick. Even at the young age of 3, he would spend hours absorbed in puzzles, deciphering how they all fit together. That interest has now expanded to building a myriad of Lego creations, exploring robotics with a local group of young boys, constructing mini-weapons from everyday materials and pulling apart old remote-controlled toys or modems. While he is sometimes reluctant to practice, he also plays the cello and seems to like the “figuring out” component in that arena as well by learning new songs by ear.

Kellyn, our feisty, sensitive and passionate daughter, is 9. She adores singing, acting, being on stage and writes extensively on most days. She explored theatrics as a young toddler, dressing up as a favorite character and belting songs around the house. She is a self-taught knitter and crochet artist, eagerly creating lovely gifts to give away to those she loves. Kellyn also plays the violin, paying great attention to the details involved in developing new skills.

Our third child, Sebastian, is 6. His heart lies with sports and all things associated with action. His energy is evident every time he runs outside to shoot hoops or catch pop-ups! His zest for life sometimes covers up his sensitive heart, but don’t let him fool you. Underneath some of his noise is a thoughtful, attentive and cuddly boy. He has a knack for math and also shows a great attraction to figuring out how things work.

Next in line is our spunky daughter, Cecilia. She is 3 ½ and thoroughly enjoys being “in the mix”! She usually wants to be near someone else in the family, engaged in whatever game, book or activity is happening. Some of her favorite activities include singing to her younger brother while in the bouncy seat, playing “tea party” with her big sister and wrestling with her daddy and older brothers.

Becket brings up the rear of our clan with his adorable 3-month old self! So far, he is generally an easy-going, happy little guy. His wide smiles are reminiscent of some of his older siblings and all the children want to shower him with love and affection! They also provide some built-in fun for our growing baby, who seems to be entering the next stage of “Entertain me!” and enjoys watching their daily antics around the house.

On any given day, you can find many of our family members with noses in books or enjoying the many genres of music available. We try to employ humor at every turn and make the most of the vast opportunities for fun around Champaign-Urbana. Some of our favorites include attending plays & concerts, discovering a new park to enjoy, paying absurd amounts in overdue fees at the library and going out for the occasional tasty treats (Jarling’s anyone??). We may also be guilty of the occasional, spontaneous family dance party and creating funny new lyrics to favorite songs. Lest you think we are all fun and games, I can assure you we also struggle with tempers, sibling fights and human crabbiness! But our goal is continued positive growth and we will continue that good fight indefinitely. If you ever run into us around town, you will be sure to notice the increased level of noise. Please don’t be shy about saying hello! We might be loud and unruly at times, but we’d love to get to know you too.