Meet The: Doula, Amber Drake

Meet The: Doula, Amber Drake

Meet The: Doula, Amber Drake

My birth experience with my daughter was nothing like what I imagined it would be. It brought me a beautiful and  healthy baby girl, and for that I am eternally grateful. Still, I do wish I had been more informed about my choices, and taken steps towards the birth that I’ve always wanted. For me, that birth would include having a doula by my side. Have you ever wondered what a Doula is?!  The dictionary definition of a doula is: “a woman who is trained to provide support to women and their families during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of time following the birth”. I like to think of it as paying someone who is very educated to be your best friend,  coach, educator, and cheerleader during your pregnancy and birth.

Amber is here to give us the inside scoop on what the life of a doula is like.

AA:Wine or coffee?

AD:Coffee. If I could live off of coffee and pasta I would. Coffee makes me a better person

(Amen to that, sister!)

How did you know you wanted to be a doula?

I had a couple of friends give birth at the same time around 5 years ago. They both chose to seek prenatal care and birth at a birth center with midwives. When I first heard about this, I was reminded of a story I read once where midwives would put a knife under the bed to “cut the pain.” Which of course is ridiculous! But I have always been a curious person and watching their journey’s peaked my interest. I began to seek out books and movies about natural childbirth. I watched “The business of Being Born” and my mind was blown. Women really took charge of their births and birthed their babies on their own terms and that meant no drugs or interventions for a lot of them. I was hooked. I read Ina May Gaskins “Guide to Childbirth” next and I knew then I wanted to be part of this world. Everything just clicked for me. I began down a path of what I thought would lead me to be a midwife but that wasn’t in the cards right away. My husband actually found doula’s and suggested I try it first to see if I really wanted to embark on this path. I took my training in February of 2013 and I had my first client that April. It rocked my world and I haven’t looked back. I love my job!

What is the most rewarding part about your job?

There is this moment, usually around half an hour after a mom delivers, when she just gets this look of “oh my god! I really did it”. I love seeing that look. Knowing that I was there with her during the nitty gritty of it and she overcame and brought her baby into the world.

What is it like being there when a baby takes their first breath?

Incredible. There is this moment, if you aren’t familiar with the process or you don’t pay attention you won’t see it. But the baby glides out all purple or blue or white and takes their first real breath and in the second before their first cry you can actually see the pinkness move down their body. It never fails to make me weep.

Have you ever felt judged or shunned for your natural parenting choices?

Oh yes…but I understand that my way isn’t what is best for everyone. Four years ago, I had no idea the kind of parent I would choose to be. Becoming a birth worker has exposed me to all kinds of parents and styles of parenting. It has been awesome, because it has shown me you don’t have to be one thing. Yes I had a home birth, I breast feed and cloth diaper. But my baby is fully vaccinated, she will go to public school and eats whatever I can feed her! Being a parent is too hard of a job to worry about labels.

Do you think the U.S. is moving toward being more accepting of natural birthing and breast feeding?

I wouldn’t say that the country as a whole is, but I think mom’s want something different. Most of my clients are second time moms who want something different the second time around. Sometimes they don’t know what exactly they are looking for, but they know the first time wasn’t it. Their first birth started them on a journey…some had cesarean births and wanted a vaginal delivery this time…some just felt alone and scared and wanted extra support. Somewhere on this journey they realized that the biggest factor was them trusting their bodies. Knowing that they could take control of their birth and do things the way they wanted. That feeling of empowerment is huge!

It seems like with breastfeeding it’s one step forward and two steps back. We see breasts selling everything from cars to fast food but when a mother chooses to nurse her baby people get up in arms! However, more moms are breastfeeding,  and that’s awesome!

What is crucial for every woman to understand about her birthing experience?

That it is your experience. You are the one that has to give birth to that baby. Not your mother or husband or doctor. No one can tell you the right way to do things. You will remember the birth of your baby for the rest of your life. It’s as important of a day for baby as it is for you. You don’t want to look back on that day and remember feeling bullied or worried or scared. You want to remember it as one of the best, most amazing days of your life.

Also, do not hesitate to switch care providers at any point in your pregnancy. If you don’t like the way your doctor or midwife is treating you, find someone else. If they aren’t treating you the way you want to be treated on a regular basis, odds are they aren’t going to during your birth. Find someone who truly supports your wishes and respects that you are the most active participant in this event!

What resources and support groups would you recommend to women seeking to take control of their birth experience?

For mom’s who want a vaginal birth after cesarean, I recommend finding a local chapter of ICAN . Finding the right support and resources can help you be more successful on your journey.

For moms who want to breastfeed, finding a chapter of  La Leche League, they are an amazing resource. You can attend before and after having a baby to get great info on all things breastfeeding.

I also recommend the movie “The Business of Being Born” and Ina May Gaskins “Guide to Childbirth”. They are both really great resources and tell a lot of amazing birth stories.

I also recommend seeking out local midwives. Even if you don’t plan on giving birth out of hospital, they can recommend childbirth education classes, doulas and lactation resources to help you achieve the birth you want.

What is some of the best advice you have received regarding motherhood?

A few weeks after my baby was born I had a follow up with my amazing midwife. She said to me “So things looks great on Facebook and Instagram. How are they really?” It took me by surprise but there was so much truth to it. Things were hard. I was barely sleeping, breastfeeding was still difficult and I was falling apart. But you would have never known it from the outside. From the pictures I would post, you would think I had it completely under control. So I reached out and got help and things got better. I stopped worrying about how things looked and started worrying about how they really were. To take care of myself rather than worry about what everyone else thought of me.

Who or what inspires you?

Moms! Mothers are some of the toughest people you will ever meet. The sheer amount of changes your body goes through during pregnancy is hard enough, but then you have to go through the marathon that is birth and THEN you don’t even get to recover and rest because you have this new life that is dependent on you. Being a mother is the single hardest thing I have seen anyone do!

What as the last book you read?

Well since I’m new mom, reading for myself doesn’t happen as often as I would like. I have read “Midwife: A Calling: Memoirs of an Urban Midwife” by Peggy Vincent. She is one of my favorite birth-y authors and I really love here books.

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