Since the beginning of humanity, women have given birth. We learned about birth through experience of both doing it and helping other women through it. Through the years, roles were defined. Midwives were the ones with the physiological knowledge of bodies and childbirth, they managed the safety of mother and baby. Doulas maintained a supportive role, doing whatever they could to comfort the mother in labor and help her through the experience. This is not new - it's as old as birth itself.
When people ask what we do and we answer "doula" we often get one of two responses - either "what's a doula?!" or "Is that like a midwife?". We then have the opportunity to enlighten people with this information, which is always a good thing. So, let's dig deeper into the differences between a doula and a midwife.
Knowledge/Expertise: Attends Home & Birth Center Births (CNM's @ Hospitals), Trained in the physiological aspects of pregnancy, childbirth & postpartum. Monitors Mother-Baby's health pre and postnatally as well as in birth.
First of all, let's talk about different kinds of midwives - a Certified Nurse-Midwife ("CNM") is an advance practice registered nurse who has specialized education and training in both nursing and midwifery. They deliver babies in hospitals, sometimes both home and hospital, though this is pretty rare. A CNM is someone who might be more laid back about birth, yet still has very medically minded training. S/he may have never seen a truly natural birth or a home birth.
A Home birth Midwife also comes in many varieties. "The CPM (Certified Professional Midwife) is a knowledgeable, skilled and independent midwifery practitioner who has met the standards for certification set by the North American Registry of Midwives (NARM). CPM is the only international credential that requires knowledge about and experience in out-of-hospital birth."
A Licensed Midwife (LM) is sanctioned by her state after she passes a test administered by the state’s medical board licensing division. Lay midwives in eight states – Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky , Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wyoming – and in the District of Columbia are not able to legally become licensed midwives. So, a lay midwife could risk being arrested by attending home births. However, some states - like our state of Michigan - simply do not require a licence.
Then, there are "Lay midwives" (also referred to as traditional midwives, empirical midwives, or direct-entry midwives). They are not nurses; rather, they're women who have had direct training in midwifery through self-study, apprenticeship, a midwifery school, or a college- or university-based program that is separate from the field of nursing. Lay midwives are trained to provide the Midwifery Model of Care to healthy women and newborns throughout the childbearing cycle, primarily in non-hospital settings. Some lay midwives become certified professional midwives (CPMs) or licensed midwives (LMs).
In all of the differences of midwives, there are also difference in style. Some are very hands on, some very hands off, others will let you decide what is best for you. Some will repair your perineum if you tear, others you will need to transfer into the hospital for repair. Some will show up earlier in labor and sit with you, others prefer to be called in when you are close to delivery. The differences go on and on - so, this article is really written from a perspective of "is this her job or not". We know many midwives who will rub your back and spend more time with you - but, traditionally, this is not their role. The midwife, ultimately, is hired to keep you and your baby safe and healthy.
Knowledge/Expertise: Attends Home/Hospital/Birth Center Births, Educational/Informational Support (providing information, options and community resources to people prenatally as well as in labor and postpartum), Comfort measures for labor and birth (ie: breathing, meditation, rebozo, massage, acupressure, position changes, distraction, etc.), Assistance with breastfeeding and postpartum recovery/comfort.
Just like there are many different types of Midwives, there are also many different types of Doulas. There are Birth, Postpartum, Antepartum, Adoption, Loss (miscarriage/abortion) and even Death Doulas.
A Certified Doula (CD) is someone who has been certified through training and requirements by some kind of educational program. There are MANY of these. Juliea of Crowning Lotus is trained through DONA, so, her "letters" are Juliea Paige CD(DONA). There are many different triainings out there, Crowning Lotus itself now being one of them. When someone is interested in becoming a Certified Doula, they will have to reflect on their own beliefs, ethics, styles, etc. and find a process that works for them - IF being certified is important to them.
Because Doulas do not take an active roll in your actual health care, they are not at all liable for the outcome of your health or birth. They do not require any sort of certification to work as doulas. Much of what a doula does can easily be obtained through independent learning and experience. When hiring a doula, you will also need to reflect on what is important to you as far as the knowledge and training your doula will have and need.
Again, styles, personalities, knowledge, approach - these all differ in doulas as well. Overall, however, the doulas role is one of support. She is there to ensure you know what your options are, to encourage you to make healthy decisions for yourself and your baby and then will support you throughout your labor process knowing you and what your preferences are. She is the person who will walk with you as a companion, as a person who provides you and your partner with comfort and peace.
The difference between doulas and midwives
Doulas don't do anything medical. They will not monitor your baby, take blood pressure, temperature, do vaginal checks, etc. It is not their job to catch your baby or to make calls regarding the health of you or your baby....as a matter of fact, the doula doesn't make ANY calls. She holds space for the mother to speak for herself. She will walk with you every step of the way, but will allow you to lead always.
The midwife's job is not to make you comfortable or to help emotionally prepare you for birth and parenting. You are hiring her to keep you and your baby safe. She will monitor and make calls regarding the health of you or your baby, she will do vaginal checks and catch your baby (unless you decide you or your partner want to do that). She will also deliver your placenta and monitor your bleeding and physiological adjustment after the birth as well as the baby's.
The midwife harbors the safety of the mother-baby.
The Doula provides comfort and support through the process.
Both roles equal in importance,
both in support of and benefiting from the other.
As you can see from the chart we created above, Doulas bridge the gaps in care that are provided by your OB OR Midwife*. While one is certainly not the other, all respectively have an important role in birth.
*Obviously, some midwives go above and beyond what their job is, but, we made this chart with the thought "this is or is not their JOB to offer this?" so you, the reader, would have only true expectations of any midwife. Overall, you want your midwife to be focused on your care, hiring a doula ensures that every facet of your needs are covered without putting too much on any one person - including your partner!
When expecting a child, whether it is your first or your sixth, you deserve to be informed and supported. We often hear about people who want a doula but are having a tough time justifying to themselves, their partners or their family the cost of this service. Many will try to find a doula who will work for free or at a very discounted rate, and the doula who participates in offering this are doing themselves, their profession AND the people they work with a massive injustice. Getting a doula is an investment, and when you are invested into something, you are far more likely to take it seriously and get the outcome you desire.
We can not speak for all doulas, their costs and what they do or do not provide their clients - so this article is written from our perspective and how we do things. So, let's break it down.
Investment: $180 prenatally - $600 Birth Fee ($780 total)
Cost to the Doula: $200. (at least) Childcare, Food, Gas, Handouts, Comfort Supplies (massage oils & tools, essential oils, tinctures, etc.) and Rental of our office space where we do prenatals, support groups, classes and events and even provide space for out of town clients to come and labor in before going into the hospital.
Value to the client: Having a doula greatly reduces the risk of having unnecessary and unwanted intervention, they often shorten the duration of your labor while also making the experience itself a pleasant and satisfying one for both you and your partner.
Why is this important?
First of all, having a healthy birth contributes greatly to a smooth adjustment into parenthood. When we are supported and able to deliver our babies naturally our bodies recover much more quickly and easily. Imagine having a wicked hangover and someone handing you a brand new baby that you have to care for - that's what medicated births are like. It sounds great in theory, right? Just induce when convenient, numb the pain or just get the baby "removed" from our abdomen at a pre-decided date and time...This is what our friends, family, peers and 'the system' are glorifying and perpetuating to childbearing women - yet no one seems to talk about the very real after effects and serious risks this poses to not only the birth but to the mother and baby postpartum. This is not to say that interventions do not have their time and place - but we should not be getting any of them because of fear, misinformation (or a complete lack of), or out of impatience...which contributes the most to the vast majority of interventions. Women who are having medicated births or end up with medicated births can still greatly benefit from the support of a doula.
Every intervention is a speed bump in your recovery - some bigger than others, but everything has an impact. Investing in a skilled, professional doula is by far the greatest method of putting the odds in your favor. She is not only going to educate you on all of this stuff, but, she will help you navigate through it in real time, too.
When we work with parents we are helping them prepare mentally, physically and emotionally for the birth AND parenting process as a whole. Because of how we work with people their births tend to go better, their body and mentality is prepared for and less afraid of birth itself. We help bring a mother and her partner closer together by helping them define how they will best get through this, while also providing them with the tools and knowledge they will realistically need to make it happen. If we have done our job right prenatally, she and her partner will easily work together through the birthing process and we work as an outside support - there to simply guide and encourage what they are already doing so well.
Aren't my care providers and nurses supposed to help me?
OB's and nurses are not natural birth specialists. When women get educated enough to decide they don't want to jump into a medicated birth, they also need to accept that they should not realistically expect medical professionals to help her achieve this. This is like a vegitarian going to a butcher for cooking advice. It simply isn't their specialty, and it's unfair to place this expectation on them. There is no part of the pregnancy journey where your education and support are built into. You HAVE to seek this out on your own. Period.
So many of the people who hire us are NOT first time parents. The first time, most people do not understand the value of avoiding interventions - or how difficult it will be to avoid them on their own. They trust the system and their care provider and do little to no independant research. They think "people deliver babies all the time - why would I need help through that?", yet - more often than not, something happens to those first time parents in their birth that they didn't want or that ended up negatively impacting them and they are left looking back on the experience wondering what could have been done differently. Often, what could have been done differently is they could have invested in that experience and hired themselves a doula.
What exactly am I paying for when I hire a doula?
When you hire a doula, you are supporting someone who has spend a lot of time and energy on learning about childbirth and parenting. You are paying for her education and experience, her expertise. Hiring a doula is like hiring a sherpa when climbing a mountain - she will show you the way but will never take credit for each step YOU had to take and the experience you ended up with.
A doula will spend a lot of time with you, a lot of time on her computer organizing information for you, she will do research for you, she is that person you can run to with questions or concerns and feel completely heard. If she doesn't have the answer, she will help you find it or will know someone who does because she is a plethora of resources. She has books you can borrow. She can suggest ways for you to feel more comfortable in pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
When it comes to being on call, she makes herself completely available 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after your due date. She often isn't able to have a regular job because of this, so, being a doula becomes her life and her only source of income. She goes to bed early, makes sure to stay within a 1-2 hour radius of home, doesn't drink too much, etc - all because she knows YOU might need her at any given moment. When you do need her, she is there. She will help you through your labor every step of the way, whether that takes 5 hours or 36. Your nurses will shift change, your OB AND Midwife will show up at the "grand finale", it is no one but the doulas job to support you ALL THE WAY THROUGH. When you and your partner are exhausted and ready to throw in the towel, she is still right there, supporting you both, guiding you through in your hours of greatest need. She takes time away from her family and life to provide this service because she believes in you and in birth THAT MUCH - to put a price on this is difficult, because ultimately - it's priceless.
When a mom and dad looks and her and says "We couldn't have done it without you" (which they do every. single. time.), she smiles and says "You did this, I was just here to hold space for you." She says this because it's true. We can not force people to hire us - it was THEM who chose to make this investment. A good doula will help you find your voice....but ultimately it is ALWAYS up to you to use it.
What if my partner does not understand the value of a doula, or we are struggling to afford it?
Unfortunately, the sticker shock of the cost of a doula and a partners lack of a full understanding of what we provide often keeps a woman from getting the doula she deserves. This is truly unfortunate because your partner deserves a doula, too! Sometimes it just takes some re-framing, setting up a free consultation can often provide your partner with a better understanding of how amazing - and important - these services are. This also provides them the space to ask questions about our role and inquire about payment plans and insurance reimbursement, etc. (Also, you can send him our link to "A Doula's Advice To Partners")
If you feel strongly about getting a doula, however, there are a lot of ways you can get the money you need to make it happen. For us, the only payment that is made upfront is $180 (which covers your prenatal care) and the remainder isn't due until after you have your baby. People can pay this in full or in payments as low as $50/month. Many people are putting a birth and/or postpartum doulas on their "registry", some are being gifted doulas from caring friends/family. We have seen donation sites set up to raise funds, people have bartered/traded services and or goods, etc. Doulas are flexible people for the most part - if you are struggling, talk to someone!! While we will not budge on what our value is (because we are all in the same boat, ultimately), we are open to working with people where they are at as long as they are willing to do the same for us.
The bottom line here is, women need doulas. We live in America - one of the lowest rated countries for infant and maternal care. If we want good births, if we want to start changing how birth looks for women and their babies - it starts with education and support. The question really comes down to - do you value that? What are you willing to do to make sure your experience is the best -and safest- it can be? Is this a worthy investment for you and your family? No one can answer that for you but you.
Recently the Zulu Birth Project was brought to our attention and we simply could not resist the urge to reach out to them. As Grand Rapids most diverse doula team, the idea of bringing the gaps between cultures and colors is near and dear to our hearts. Especially when it comes to birth, as we are well aware that women of color are at an embarrassingly higher rate of birth harm and injustices. We want to see this change and we are aware that change starts with trainings and community events such as this. It starts with us.
The Zulu Birth Project is a multinational initiative to reach across time and borders to share ancient birthing practices in support of mothers-to-be, their families and the birth workers who serve them. Zinzile Seepie and Tanya Parker, two awe-inspiring mothers, activists and advocates, have come together with their knowledge, experience and passion for women and families to do something about birth and how we care for mothers, for ourselves, and each other. They have created a tour where along the way they will not only teach ancient African traditions for birth, baby wearing and beyond - they will create a Global Community.
We want Grand Rapids to be a part of that.
We have reached out and have lovingly convinced them to make a stop here on the weekend of Aug 22, 2014 where we will hold a FREE community event at Centre Point, followed by the workshop on Aug 23-24, 2014 at Cedar Tree Birth & Wellness.
We're calling on YOU, our community, to help us bring these amazing women and their knowledge to Grand Rapids. Our goal is not only to take and provide the community event and training, but to use this training as a way to help us bridge the gap between mothers of different colors. We want to unite Grand Rapids in a whole new way, and we feel that through this community event and training we will have a unique and beautiful opportunity to begin laying down that foundation.
Here's how you can get involved and help us out:
Also, Each workshop, in support of Vicki Penwell’s Grand Challenge 2014, issues 1 full scholarship to a Birthworker of Color. Applicants can apply for this directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What the Zulu Birth Project training will be offering:
What Participants Receive:
Recently, it's been brought to my attention that we have a reputation....or what I'd rather call a "label". Some people associated with me professionally have been told by others in interviews that they are apprehensive about hiring them because of their association with Crowning Lotus because we are "too pagan". Others have called out the radio show that Free Beer & Hot Wings did on us a couple of years back (when I was "Free Beer's" doula) where they made fun of me and acted like I was some sort of magical birth fairy (which, for the record, I thought was hilarious - I'm not afraid to laugh at myself...and it IS a show called "Free Beer and Hot Wings" - if anyone is going to form an opinion of me based on that then they have bigger problems than I'm willing to even try and address). Then, I was approached and asked to do henna at a Fit4Mom's event here in Grand Rapids - which I said yes to and put on my calendar only to be told this week that they no longer wish to incorporate it because they were "uncomfortable with the spiritual aspects" of it. I absolutely feel discriminated against because of this and can't help but wonder if things would be different if I was a Christian henna artist (this is West Michigan, after all) - especially since there really are no "spiritual aspects" to henna - unless that is how the person getting it wants to incorporate it - we do offer PRIVATE Reiki Henna sessions, but during events we're just busting out art. Had anyone taken the time to ask the right questions, things would be clarified, my feelings wouldn't be hurt, and this event could have had one more awesome element added to it that everyone could enjoy.
All of this being brought to my attention has had me reflecting quite a bit - on words and their perceived meanings, on labels, on my "beliefs"...I certainly am not trying to make anyone uncomfortable - and I do not want to give people the wrong impression of who we are and how we work either. I generally don't care what others think about me and what we're doing...but I am absolutely one to set the record straight and tell the world exactly what I think. That is what this post is all about.
Obviously, on the surface I am "different". No matter what, there will always be someone who thinks you are something you are not - and as someone who is a Minister and Reiki Master in Grand Rapids, MI - I'm going to always have some people who place me in a category before getting to know me. This is why I think it's important to make a public statement regarding myself, my business and these labels/rumors so YOU, here now visiting my site, can get some clarification straight from the source. You will either love me or hate me for it - but, that really doesn't concern me. I'm not doing what I do because I want to get rich - I do what I do because it is my calling and I'm GREAT at it. I don't want to appeal to people who would judge others without giving them a fair shot anyways, and I would hope that the people associated with me would feel the same way. If someone I was interviewing ever said they might not hire me because of my association with someone or something that I valued or cared about it would be a red flag for me and I would probably not work with them for a multitude of reasons - but primarily because I would be nervous that anything I did could be subject to the same ignorant judgement. I can not be the amazing doula I am under that kind of pressure - I'd rather be hired by someone who sees me for me and values the kind of person I actually am.
Doulas and Midwives are all about drum circles, chanting and hot towels, right?
If you watch any movie or show depicting a doula, midwife or "crunchy" parent - you will easily see that we already are perceived as "far out hippie / witchy" people. Women who simply want natural births are often given the same label. I think it's incredibly unfortunate and completely ignorant of our society to do this - just because we care about the food we eat, the impact we have on the Earth WE ALL HAVE TO SHARE, because we care about how we birth and feed our children, or even because we value love and understanding over intolerance and misinformation and chose to stand up against injustice all over this planet...all of these things can be looked at as "hippie dippy" nonsense to anyone not willing to take a closer look.
I want you to take that closer look.
So, here it is. This is my official stance on my spirituality and our meaning behind some of the words we use.
I operate based on three laws:
1. Hurt no one.
2. Don't be a jerk (see law 1).
3. Learn from your mistakes.
(If you break laws 1 and/or 2, see law 3)
I "believe in" love. You can call that spiritual, religious, metaphysical, pagan, WHATEVER - but you would be the one slapping a label on it. If I personally had to put a "label" on my beliefs it would be agnostic - meaning "I don't know". I'm just a human being trying to do good things with my life while I'm here. There may be a God/Goddess/Source/XYZ - or not. I'm open to all possibility but refuse to ever say that I know "for sure".
"Pagan" - just to set the record straight - ANYONE who does not subscribe to organized religion is, by definition, a pagan. That is a completely broad spectrum of people - including Atheists who believe there is nothing beyond our world.
"Sacred" is a word that can be associate with religion, but, to us, sacred means "regarded with great respect and reverence".
"Spiritual" is simply the acknowledgement that we are "spirit"....that we are more than meat and bones. If you do not believe this - that's fine....but judging others who do is not fine. Neither is judging you for not believing this.
"Energy" is science. It's not something that us "hippie dippy" people like to talk about because it sounds cool....it's real and you have it and are a part of it whether you like it or not. We are all made up of atoms (which are made of energy) which vibrate at a specific frequency to create the matter. We are literally made of stars, of specks of light which come together in the most beautiful way. "Energy" is something everyone can feel. You can feel the energy I am putting into these words as you read it, you can sense when someone is in a great or a bad mood. This is "energy" and we are all sensitive to it to some degree. Some just more than others.
"Meditation" is not "spiritual" (unless that is your "intention"). It is also science. It's mental focus and sometimes it's day dreaming. It's checking in with your body and mind. It can be applied to any and all aspects of living. It helps. Case closed.
"Healing" is something we all do for ourselves and others on a daily basis. When a child gets hurt and you kiss that pain, you are healing. When you breathe instead of freak out - you are "grounding and healing" yourself.
"Crystals" are tools. If you use a cell phone, a television or any sort of technology at all - you can thank crystals. Again - this is science, people! Crystals store and transmit energy and information. They are amazing!! Yes, we use them, but not in a way that you would feel uncomfortable. Anyone from any belief or non-belief standpoint can appreciate the beauty of crystals and can "feel" more grounded by holding onto one.
"Goddess" - to us, this word represents any woman who has stepped into her power AS a woman. She is someone who values herself and others. She treats herself and her world with dignity and respect. Goddess is not deity, it is within.
Calling someone a "hippie" is not an insult. The hippies CARED and stood up to a system that they saw as the broken, lying P.O.S it is. They were the first of our time to care about the food we eat and see that we are destroying our planet with our insatiable greed and use of resources, they were the first to say "no" to a government who went to war illegally and unjustly - costing the lives of innocent people all over the planet...now, 50ish years later, everyone knows organic is better and that we need to treat our planet -and our people- with more respect. That we all deserve peace and happiness. The hippies weren't crazy - they were labeled.
While I'm at it - let's throw "Manifestation" in there in three easy steps:
1. think about a sandwich
2. make sandwich
3. you just manifested a sandwich.
(this also covers "intention" - ie: "I intended to make a sandwich and I did.")
If these words make you uncomfortable, I encourage you to examine that and ask yourself why - with the full understanding that no one is asking you to use or even identify with them. These are just words which any meaning you chose can be applied - but - to some degree, you do these things every day. Heal, manifest, set intentions, meditate - we're all doing it, we're just calling it different things. To judge others on how they chose to identify it is silly. Regardless of your beliefs, we're all humans. We're all in this together.
Now, I want to address how we WORK.
Our approach is to meet people where they are and we pride ourselves in being the "middle of the road" birth workers - able to flow with whatever "energy" will best benefit the person we are working with. We've worked with people of every kind of background from the extremely conservative and religious, to the extremely "spiritual", to the extremely atheist. Nurses, OB's and Midwives LOVE us and always compliment us on our work. No one has ever told us that they EVER felt "uncomfortable". (Want proof? Check out our awesome feedback)!
Some "different" things that we do and what they look like:
For hospital birth especially, we "cleanse" the room of any lingering energy. This is a reset button of sorts. We don't know what kind of birth happened there before we came - but we certainly don't want that to impede on what kind of environment this baby is going to be born into. What does that look like? Nothing really - we spray the room down with aromatherapy, we set an intention to "sweep out" any negativity and welcome positivity and protection (from wherever - from the nurses, the OB's or any deity that the client chooses to subscribe to, etc). As we spray, we hold this "intention". It really doesn't "look" like anything except doulas making the room smell good.
We do Reiki. As I stated earlier, we are all energy. That is science, not myth. No hocus pocus, no witchy/hippie mumbo jumbo - it just is. Think about radio waves - they are around us all of the time. You need the right tools to tune into those waves. A radio is the tool to get the signal - your body is also a tool in the same way. Reiki is simply a clearer signal - a tuning of the dial so you can hear the music more clearly. What does it look like when we use Reiki for our clients? Again - nothing really. It simply is and does. It looks like a doula rubbing a back or feet or holding a hand.
We use crystals (sometimes). Crystals are great tools!! They add beauty and energy to the room and the birth. If nothing else, when held they provide a distraction. Something to focus on other than the pain. Are we waiving them around and chanting? No - they are simply present and available. When we do use them, we simply give mom one to hold and squeeze.
We never, ever incorporate something someone is uncomfortable with - and we discuss this with each client as we work with them so we can best serve them and their birth. The bottom line for me is this - any "spirituality" of myself or my team does not define how we doula. We are educated and passionate about providing support for the people we work for and absolutely any person from any belief or non-belief system could benefit from the excellent care we provide.
If believing in women and their bodies makes us weird hippies, then so be it. We're not going to be for everyone - and that's OK! However, I don't want people out there to think that they know everything about us simply because of an impression they got online and be out in my community spreading rumors or giving us a bad name based on that (false) impression. It is NOT our mission to make people believe what we believe - it is our mission to support and educate in a way that is right for absolutely anyone who wants it.
I really hope this helps clarify to anyone who needs it who we are and what we are about. It's not cool to judge people before you know them, that's why we don't do it. Please give us - and everyone - the same courtesy.
Peace and blessings,
Crowning Lotus was established in 2007 when Juliea Paige embarked on her journey to change the world through providing women and parents with honest support and encouragement to be the best them they could be in hopes that this would ripple out into the world and create peace.
As a troubled youth who has experienced everything from abandonment, sexual trauma, foster care and juvenile facilities, Juliea saw very clearly that something was wrong with people. It wasn't that people were “bad”, it was that many were unloved, uncared for and unsupported. The people society considered no good had much of the time simply not been shown compassion or a good example to follow, and this seemed to trickle down through the generations. And, she knew without a doubt that it wasn't only the people, but, the "system" that was broken.
Determined to create change, she chose to overcome her own patterns and habits while working to expose these issues of the world around her. She explored new ways of living and loving - refusing to be a victim of her own circumstances. Her goal became breaking the cycles of abuse and addiction that had troubled her own family for generations and become an example for people everywhere that how we live and what we do with our lives is always a choice, regardless what we have done or what may have been done to us. Becoming a mother at 16, she had to make these choices sooner than most - understanding how easy it would have been to fall into the patterns of the generations before, she funneled her anger and pain into fuel for a fire that burned brightly within. That fire turned everything around her into potential for change within herself and her world.
Through the years Juliea developed close friendships and became a person who others gravitated towards to find strength and inspiration. She was often that friend to call or go see when you needed someone real to talk to. These qualities are what eventually led to her being asked to attend births for some of her friends. Back then, she didn't know what a doula was – she just knew in her heart that it felt amazing to be able to help set the tone for this new life. Not only the new life of the baby, but the new life of the mother and father. She thought, 'What if someone had been there like this for my mother? Would things have been different? Would she have felt more of a connection to me?' The connection between how we approach our bodies, our births and our babies began to become the connection to true change on this planet – something she had been fighting for and desiring her whole life. However, it wasn't until years later that she realized what to call what she was doing – but as soon as she discovered the word “doula” she never looked back.
The first thing she did (besides read as many books as she could get her hands on) was think of a name. She thought about what it was that she wanted her doula business to stand for, who her perfect clients were, and, what kind of impact she wanted to have. The image of the lotus came to her and she thought the words “Crowning Lotus”. It was perfect. Her whole life seemed to be all about taking the muck, the deep, dark shit that life seems to throw at us and turn it into fertilizer. Fuel for change. All of the people who had hurt her as a child and throughout her life had actually given her a gift – instead of remaining their victim, she chose to learn an grow from her experiences and to allow herself to become stronger because of them. In many ways, these people were showing her how to rise above the darkness to seek out the light - which is exactly what the lotus does. Rising through the murkiest of waters to emerge the most beautiful flower who simply floats upon the surface of it all. She saw how this and so many other things in life mirror the journey of pregnancy an birth. How it all seemed to strip us down to our core and then right when we think we can't go on, we are given the greatest gift. She realized, we are all Crowning Lotuses.
Once her name was chosen, it was time to chose a path of training. She really didn't know how to start “being” a doula, so, getting certified seemed like the logical next step. She chose DONA mostly because they were the longest standing and most reputable organization out there (and their trainings were the most accessible). Training through DONA she dreamed of all of the amazing midwives and doulas that she would get to know along the way. Excited to join a community of empowered women and help change the world was all she could ever hope for.
Unfortunately, her training seemed somewhat hollow and didn't seem to actually teach her much that she hadn't already learned on her own. There was also no real sense of community, no mentors to guide her. Basically, it was a case of “pay us money, read these books, take these workshops and classes - then go practice on women”. Something about that didn't feel right, but, she was determined to finish what she had started, hoping that she would connect with others doing this work within her community and that would be where she would find her community.
As someone who had spent years vending as an artist all over Michigan, she thought the best way to get that ball rolling would be to plug herself into parent/birthy events as a vendor. What she found was not exactly open arms...more like cold shoulders. She felt like the new girl in the cafeteria no one wanted to sit with. Something was seriously wrong with this picture...so in true Juliea fashion, she decided to find a way to create the world she desired. She would build her own community based on loving support and a hope that together we could help create real change.
It wasn't until 2011 that she decided to begin building a team of doulas. So many women would contact her and ask about becoming a doula and many of those women would say “I emailed everyone I could find and no one would respond except for you!”. She was unable to understand why birth workers were so resistant to reaching out to aspiring birth professionals. Were they competitive? That didn't make sense – there could never be enough doulas or midwives! Were they simply private about it? Too busy? It just didn't seem to jive well with her philosophy that we are all stronger together and that our differences are what make us all so wonderful. So, she did something about it. She began by mentoring and supporting the women who wanted to do this work. She did talks at Elder & Sage called “So, You Want To Be A Doula?” where women could come and get a picture painted for them of what being a doula actually looks like and would provide them with resources and information on where to go from there if it was something they were drawn to doing.
For the women who seemed to really fit in with her philosophy and 'vibe', she simply asked if they would be interested in training as her assistant. It was the very best move she ever could have made as working as a team within this work has fulfilled her and her work in more ways then anyone can count. Coining the term "bEARTH Doulas" because she knew that this work went much deeper than rubbing backs and informing individuals of their options and rights - this was about healing the Earth and it's people on every level.
The rest is history in the making.