In celebration of World Doula Week I had the privilege to interview one of the many doulas, in Central Iowa, Michelle Conkling. Michelle’s doula business is Blessed Bean Birth & Belly and has been a doula for almost two years. Below, you will find some basic questions of why she became a doula, her education, and why she enjoys it so much!
Why did you want to become a doula?
“Before my daughter was born, I didn’t even know what a doula was. After she was born, I started to read a lot because my birth did not go as planned and ended in a c-section. I joined a local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) group and doulas kept coming up. The more I read about doulas, the more passionate I became about the idea. I wanted to support women through this very important time.”
What program did you use to become a certified doula? How long did it take you?
“I certified through the International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA). There are many organizations now that certify doulas but I felt that ICEA and DONA had the most name recognition. I also liked that I could go back and certify as a post partum doula, a childbirth educator, and a prenatal and postpartum fitness educator all under one umbrella. There are eight books you need to read through ICEA on topics of birth to breastfeeding to postpartum depression. After I completed the reading, I attended a doula training workshop – this was an intense, hands on, two days full of information, workshop. I also attended a childbirth education class. And then I jumped in to attending births. You need three births to get certified – I am a volunteer doula through Mercy West so that helped a lot. I have subsequently attended additional training on VBAC’s and on utilizing a rebozo for labor support (a rebozo is a traditional Mexican shawl that can be used to apply pressure to the hips or support the belly.”
What is your favorite part of being a doula?
“I am continually amazed at the strength and power that women have during birth. And there is always the part when the mother gets to see her baby for the first time. It is a privilege to be a witness to both.”
Why should every pregnant woman hire a doula?
“We spend so much time and money planning our weddings but often we don’t give equal consideration to planning our births. Now granted, there are many things you can’t control during birth. But it is worth the time to educate yourself not only about the birth process but creating a support team around you – that support team includes your medical providers. One in three births in this country end in a c-section and those stats are very true in Iowa. We need to start asking our medical care providers tough questions about evidence based care long before we are in the middle of labor – questions about inductions and c-section rates. Having the continuous support of a doula has been shown in numerous clinical studies to result in shorter labors, reduces the need for Pitocin and c-sections, and reduces the mother’s need for pain meds and epidurals. The continuous support that a doula provides is invaluable!”
Do you have children and did you use a doula for your birth?
‘I will absolutely be using a doula for my next birth!”
What differentiates you from other doulas in the area?
There are many great women offering doula services in the Des Moines area. I really think it’s important for women (and their partners) to meet with several doulas to find the best fit for them. My role is to not only support the expecting mother but if she has a partner, help him or her best support the mother.
How many births have you attended?
“I have attended 15 births.”
How much do you charge? What type of packages do you offer?
“My fee is $600. I don’t offer different packages – I do offer a bellycast to clients if they are interested in that. I can work with people on payment plans and take Paypal.”
To celebrate even more Michelle has been gracious enough to give away one FREE belly cast! A belly cast is a plaster cast of a pregnant woman’s belly. It is a beautiful keepsake you can keep for years to come and show your children. This is one, of the many, unique things Michelle offers to all her clients.
Follow these rules to be enter into winning a FREE belly cast! I will announce a winner Sunday, March 29th on my Facebook page.
Happy World Doula Week!