"If I run after what I think I want, my days are a furnace of stress and anxiety; if I sit in my own place of patience, what I need flows to me, and without pain. – Rumi
Services: Certified Postpartum Doula, Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) and Breastfeeding Peer Counselor
Years in Business: 6
Families Served: over 50
When meeting McRae, you’d notice her laugh and the way she puts people at ease. She is extremely knowledgeable yet presents her wisdom in a very easy going way. In the following interview, you’ll get to learn more about this nurturing woman. In addition to working tirelessly with her postpartum clients, she advocates for postpartum doulas in Richmond and mentors those who are new to the field with enthusiasm and generous wisdom. I'd highly recommend chatting with her early on in your pregnancy to see if she has availability in her calendar for postpartum support.
She is the third doula featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.
What do you love most about doula work?
What I love the most about doula work is the look of relief on parents' faces when I've reassured them that what they are going through is normal and what their baby is doing is normal. Then we work together to make these normal things a little easier to handle.
Do you do daytime or nighttime support? Or both?
I prefer overnights or evening shifts but days are definitely an option if that’s what’s needed the most. I often work opposite of relatives who handle day support and i come at night so they can be rested for the next day.
What does your partner think about your doula work/job? Do you think it’s important to have your partner’s support and why?
He loves it. My husband agreed to stay home so that I CAN do this work. Night work can be tough, but when I was trying to arrange childcare around his work shifts it was nearly impossible. It’s much easier to be available to my clients now that I know they are with their “dada” 24/7.
How many children do you have? What is the most difficult part of parenting regarding being a doula?
2. They don’t see me much in the busy seasons but we strive to make the time they do, quality time. I had a daycare in my home before my kids were born and during their first years so I could be home while they were little. The beauty of postpartum doula work is that it is scheduled so I was able to take on a client whose budget only allowed about 2 hours twice a week when my 2nd was 6 months old. So I was able to dip my toes back in without being away from my nursling for more than a few hours.
Do you have any certifications or degrees?
I have a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Computer Information Management Systems from Longwood College. Then I went back to J. Sargeant Reynolds community college after that to get a Career Studies Certificate in Early Childhood Development. I obtained Postpartum Doula Certification in 2014 after training in 2011 and then I certified as a Child Passenger Safety Technician in 2015.
Do you want to share any of your personal birth/postpartum experiences/stories?
I decided to become a postpartum doula after my own experience welcoming our first baby into our family. After 15 years of taking care of children under 2 in a childcare provider role, I was still not prepared for all the changes a new baby brings to a family.
The birth and the first few weeks (years!) of my son’s life were tough which left me searching for answers to how to make sure families didn’t have to go through what we had been through. I had a birth doula and the birth would have certainly been even more tough without her and a birth advocate friend by our sides. But the postpartum portion of our hospital stay was very overwhelming and we didn’t know about postpartum doulas. When I finally found out this role existed about 2 years later, I said, I want to be that person!
Do you feel that your own births/postpartums colored your doula experience?
Yes, I can remember very clearly wondering why in the world my baby would not go back to sleep after he was fed and changed in the first weeks of life. Turns out they just stay awake for a little bit after they eat and it’s normal! The exhaustion creeps in so quickly when they eat so often that I really wanted to help others get some sleep between feeds during those first weeks before baby learns to go back to sleep quicker. Thus my passion for overnight work.
What are your future goals with doula work?
I just took on 5 postpartum doulas as independent contractors to help me create more continuity for my clients so I think we’ll stay put there in terms of goals for now!
Do you volunteer with any organizations?
I was on the board for Birth Matters VA for 3 years and was the co-coordinator for the Big Latch On - Midlothian for 5 years. I started free meet up events for new moms with another area postpartum doula almost 3 years ago and while I’ve had to hand mine over, they are all still going on under a new name “Baby Chat” in Church Hill, Northside, Bon Air, and two in Midlothian. All of my Child Passenger Safety Technician work is volunteer as well.
Do you do anything besides doula work?
I do a monthly seat check event at Babies R US - Short Pump for first time expectant families.
If you weren’t doing doula work, what would you be doing instead?
Something in the world of Information Technology or an IBCLC
When you were a child, what did you want to grow up to be?
A pediatrician. I knew I wanted to work with parents and babies but I didn't know about postpartum doulas yet!
Favorite seasons and why
Fall, the leaves and the weather
Do you have a favorite hospital to work in in Richmond?
Ideally, you’d love to do doula work until:
I can no longer physically do it.
Best breastfeeding advice you offer:
Take in all the advice from all the experts and friends and then do what works best for you and your baby and your family.
How do you avoid burn out?
I have a dungeon room set up at home with double black out curtains and a white noise machine so that i can get solid rest during the day to be ready to support my clients at night.
Favorite thing to do when you are not on call?
I love getting to spend time with my family when I have some down time between clients. We are planning to try camping more this year. I end up doing a lot more private car seat checks than I usually do when there is down time as well.