I’m so happy to announce that Sacred Roots has added another doula to our team! Michelle will be joining as the newest mentee (for now 😉) in the Sacred Roots Birth Doula Mentorship program.
I met Michelle when she was a moderator for a panel through the Health Management and Policy Masters Program at the University of Michigan. She was looking for doulas to speak to students about the roll they play in creating safer birth outcomes, and I was so happy to be able to offer my experience on the panel.
After our call, Michelle reached out to learn more about how I started my doula practice and showed interest in joining the team as a mentee.
Michelle has such a passion for making change in the safety AND joy that women around the world experience when giving birth. She is putting her actions where her heart is too, through education, internships, and research she is going to make big changes in the way women, especially black women, are cared for during pregnancy and beyond.
And now we add Doula Services! Michelle will be an amazing asset to our community as a doula, her belief in women and ability to listen to their needs and concerns will make her a powerful supporter of empowered birth.
Hello Sacred Roots family! It’s been awhile since I posted here, I’ve been busy with births, but also with building my women’s health guide biz over HERE!
It must be a spring thing, since it was May the last time I got to introduce a new mentee! Please meet Grace Willis! I am super excited to be given the opportunity to support Grace in becoming a great doula and asset to her community as a birth worker. Grace reached out a few months ago looking for information and guidance on building a doula business and what the day to day look like as a doula. Since then we have met via zoom a few times, and each time I am so happy to know that she has found this work. She is sweet and knowledgable, and full of the desire to learn and serve.
Grace and I will be working together as she gets her footing on her own. Through the next few months, I will be supporting her by being a source of information and a sounding board. A place she can reach out to if she feels she needs some support, which happens often as a doula, but especially as a new one. So without further ado, here is Grace’s short and sweet bio, and I hope to share more about how we are working together going forward!
Hello Everyone! My name is Grace Willis, and I am a newly DONA trained birth doula. I live in southeast Michigan with my fiancé Brian and our cat Marshmallow.
Ever since I can remember, I have been a caretaker and nurturer. It’s part of who I am. Whether checking in with my loved ones and friends or babysitting, my heart is filled up when I help others. For the past seven years I’ve had the privilege of working with several families and their children. This experience has been such a joy for me and taught me so much. It was through nannying I first heard about doulas. After doing a little research I knew this is what I was meant to do. My heart was lit up. I wanted to be a support person for families and this seemed like the perfect route to take. Fast forward to 2021, and I was finally able to take doula training and start this incredible journey.
As a birth doula, it is my hope to empower families as they navigate through one of the biggest days of their lives. I want to be a warm and calm presence for my clients; additionally, I want them to have a positive birth experience. I want families to feel well cared for throughout our entire time together. I will help my clients by providing emotional and physical support, coping techniques, and labor positions. I will be their advocate, working with them, to make sure they have accurate evidence based information. I will support families in all types of birth.
I want to thank my wonderful mentor Katy Gladwin. I am so grateful to work side by side with her. Katys’ many years of experience and vast knowledge of birth work will help build a great foundation for me.
In my free time you will find me reading all books birth related and listening to birth story podcasts. I also enjoy painting abstracts, running, and hiking with my fiancé.
In June 2020, I presented to the University of Michigan “Stay Home, Stay Connected” prenatal support group. This group was created to provide support to soon-to-be mothers during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders.
If you’re wondering if a doula might be a good tool for you in your birth (or you just have no idea what a doula is) please watch. This presentation explains everything you need to know about how a doula/client relationship works. It also covers how to find and hire a doula and the roles a doula has in the birth room, supporting you and your partner.
I have been so blessed to work with many amazing practitioners. I have also seen laboring mothers treated as though they were 2nd class citizens – stupid, and unable to think clearly or logically. When I’ve seen the entire birth team working together, the outcomes are beautiful. They might not always be ideal, and they might leave the mother with feelings of sadness or disappointment, but they don’t leave anyone feeling as though they were taken advantage of. They don’t leave questions behind. When the whole team works together – mother, father, doula, nurse, midwife and/or OB – the world the baby is born into is one of harmony and respect.
I consider myself a mother advocate, and perhaps even a birth activist *gasp*. I believe ALL women deserve to have supported, informed births – in whatever shape that takes for them. Women are strong, and in almost all cases can speak for themselves and advocate for themselves. However, in our culture, many people feel powerless as soon as they enter the hospital or doctors office, so while you may be a wonderful advocate for yourself, adding labor and white-coat syndrome to the decision making process should be taken into account. I also know, that in any setting, especially a hospital, many women will labor better when left alone in quiet darkness. I know the difference between reminding care providers about the mother’s wishes, and making decisions for the laboring family. It is NOT my place to make decisions, but I am perfectly qualified to refer to the Birth Plan to remind a nurse or OB what the wishes of the client are.
Respect is so important.
Respect for the medical team, who have spent their entire adult lives learning and perfecting the science surrounding birth. Respect for the mother, who’s innate knowledge of her body, baby, and boundaries is sacred and worthy. Respect of the supporting birth team. The partner, who loves and supports, yet is also nervous and only wants everyone to be safe. The Doula, who is present to make sure that the team can all work seamlessly together. Is the mother being heard, and does the partner feel safe? Has the doctor, who has seen a lot of trauma, (which can alter the way information is taken in and presented) spoken clearly and respectfully to the clients. Has ALL of the information been shared, so an informed decision can be made?
When a birth team works together to provide safety and knowledge to a birthing family, the results are profoundly empowering, while the opposite can be devastating to the mother’s self-esteem and trust in her instincts. A mother’s instinct, when allowed to have a voice, and when listened to, can set the stage for a closer mother-baby bond, a healthier relationship as the infant becomes baby, baby a toddler, and toddler a child. When a mother can trust her instincts, when she is taught that her instincts are valid, her relationships – especially with her children – can flourish in a real and meaningful way. Breastfeeding is better when babies and mothers are bonded. When a mother’s instinct to be constantly near her newborn is trusted, outcomes are better; less jaundice, better heart rate and breathing rate, better temperature regulation, better sleep, and better weight gain.
Having a less than ideal birth team does not mean you are guaranteed to have a less than ideal birth experience. Have a clear idea of what you would like, understand WHY you want what you want and then write a birth plan. Being able to advocate for yourself, and having open and clear communication goes a very long way!
Hello Sacred Roots family! It’s been awhile since I updated here, and I will share some about what has been going on with me lately in a near-future post! I promise!
In the meantime, I wanted to introduce Alyssa Bialy! I am super excited to be given the opportunity to support Alyssa in becoming a great doula and asset to her community as a birth worker. I met Alyssa in my Childbirth Education classes through Ypsi-Arbor CBE in the fall of 2018. After the birth of her son, she reached out to ask about the process of becoming a doula and what all it entails. Since then we have met a few times, and each time I am so happy to know that she is entering the world of birth. She is caring, conscientious, and full of the desire to learn and serve.
Alyssa and I will be working together as she gets her footing on her own. Through the next few months, I will be supporting her by being a source of information and a sounding board. A place she can reach out to if she feels she needs some support, which happens often as a doula, but especially as a new one. So without further ado, here is Alyssa’s short and sweet bio, and I hope to share more about how we are working together going forward!
Hello! My name is Alyssa Bialy and I recently joined the doula community after taking a DONA certified course with Jessica English. While I transition in to this new role, I feel grateful to work closely with Katy Gladwin, as my mentor. Her experience, kindness, and knowledge provides an excellent foundation to birth work.
I pursued becoming a doula because the bedrock of my life can be summed up in one word – love: love of family, nature, my dog, and cooking. I know that assisting a family through the birthing process, supported by a healthy dose of love, can significantly impact the mother, father, and child.
Part of life is engaging in learning, chances, and choices, which ultimately led me to a degree in secondary education. I now want to help empower families to make informed decisions about their birth experiences. Creating an environment of empowerment with emotional support as they go through this life changing, yet vulnerable, process, is how we can build strong bonds between babies and their families.
As I build upon the birth stories of family and friends, as well as my own birth experience, I am honored, humbled, and delighted to partner with other women and their families as their new child enters the world.