"Go in to your birth educated but with an open mind. Birth is a journey that can not be predicted."
Sarah is a kind and knowledgeable woman who brings so much to the birth community. She is dedicated and so passionate about this work. If you're pregnant, take some time to sit down with her and chat and find out if she has any availability for birth!
She is the tenth doula featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.
What does your partner think about your doula work?
My husband is 150% supportive and thinks it is a very cool, very important job! Whenever I’m feeling guilty about leaving him alone for bedtime duties 2-4 nights a week for doula work or having him stay home from work to be dad instead, he tells me there is no need to feel guilty. He encourages me to go do what I need to do to be successful and to support my clients. His experience with our doula was so wonderful that he wants me to be able to support as many families as possible. He is always encouraging me. I couldn’t do this without his full support!
How many children do you have?
2 girls, ages 2 and 3 1/2
What is the most difficult part of that regarding being a doula?
Arranging on call child care is, by far, the most difficult part of being a doula right now. Also, the girls are so young that they don’t understand the urgency of having to get dressed and out the door quickly so sometimes that part is quite stressful when I need to rush off to a birth.
Do you have any certifications or degrees?
I am currently working toward my toLabor doula certification. I also have a BS in Elementary Education.
Do you want to share any of your personal birth experiences/stories?
I tried very hard to have an unmedicated birth and my first daughter had other plans. I had a cesarean section with wonderful collaboration between the midwife and OBs. I had a very healing unmedicated VBAC with my second daughter.
What drew you to doula work?
My wonderful experience with my doula during both of my births and my love for all things birth and babies inspired me to pursue doula work.
What are your future goals with doula work?
I’m currently working toward certification so I’d like to finish that. I plan to add bereavement and postpartum doula certification as well. When my children are older and in school, I would love to be able to work with 4 clients a month.
Do you volunteer with any organizations? Have you in the past?
I look forward to volunteering more once my children are older. For now, our playgroup has community service playdates. We recently donated lots of food to FeedMore, made backpacks for the homeless, and adopted several families who were displaced by Hurricane Irma by sending them necessary items.
Do you have any advice for women who are just starting out in birth work?
Eat, sleep, and take care of yourself so that you can take care of these mamas who need your support. When I am on call, I make sure that I eat substantial healthy meals each day. I also force myself to at least get in bed by 10:00pm so I can be well rested.
Do you do anything besides doula work?
I’m a full time mom to my two preschool aged girls. They keep me on my toes at all times!
Do you have a favorite birth you attended?
I feel like each birth has been special. Seeing how strong moms are during labor and delivery is always amazing. Watching couples labor together and watching parents meet their baby for the first time are always highlights.
Have you had a very difficult birth? What made it difficult?
I’ve had a birth where the OB and nurse were not supportive of my role as a doula. My client was surprised because the hospital advertises that it supports doulas. Thankfully she delivered with the hospitalist and a new nurse who were both wonderful!
If you weren’t doing doula work, what would you be doing instead?
I would be full time momming or maybe going back to teaching.
Favorite birth affirmation
Gosh, that’s tough as there are so many good ones! "She believed she could so she did" was my mantra during my VBAC.
Here are some other favs:
"I am a strong and capable woman."
"Relax, breathe, open."
"I am surrounded by loving, nurturing support."
"Each surge of my body brings my baby closer to me."
"My courage is stronger than my fear."
Meghan Batten, Naomi Sullivan, Leslie Fehan, Amber Price, Kathryn Beaton, Brenda Brickhouse, Dr. Bakker, Amber Fischer, and Therese Hak-Kuhn-midwives, an OB, and doulas who were instrumental in both of my births and to my journey of becoming a doula.
If you could have one super power, what would it be?
Know when a woman is going to go into labor and to know how long her labor is going to be, mainly to be able to tell her!
When you were a child, what did you want to grow up to be?
I wanted to be a pediatrician for a while and then a teacher.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate all the way! Dark chocolate!
Dogs or cats?
Dogs! I’m allergic to cats.
Favorite seasons and why:
Summer, hands down! I love all things summer-beach, pool, flip flops, ice cream, sun dresses, cook outs, longer days, and even the hot weather! I’m a July baby which explains it all!
Do you have a favorite hospital to work in in Richmond?
So far my favorite to work at has been Embrace Birth Center. I gave birth to both of my girls at VCU so I look forward to working there this winter!
Ideally, you’d love to do doula work until:
Forever! I don’t see an end in sight. I’m loving what I’m doing!
What’s in your doula bag?
What’s not in my bag, ha?! It’s very heavy and has lots of tools in it such as massage oils and tools, diffuser, aromatherapy oils, portable speaker, twinkle lights, heating pad, and more. One of my clients recently called it my Mary Poppin’s bag!
Number one book moms should read before giving birth:
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is wonderful. The Birth Partner is a great book for partners to read.
Number one book moms should read before breastfeeding:
I’m not sure I would recommend reading a book on breastfeeding before baby is born. I think having The Nursing Mother’s Companion on hand to consult as needed once baby is born is a good idea though.
Best breastfeeding advice you offer:
Don’t stress over it. It’s the one thing we really can’t practice until we actually have a baby. Take a class but don’t fret if you can’t remember everything. You’ll get lots of practice. Get help from a lactation consultant. They are wonderful support!
Best labor advice you offer:
Stay hydrated, eat, relax, and breathe. Go in to your birth educated but with an open mind. Birth is a journey that can not be predicted.
Traveling, swimming, taking photos, spending time outdoors, crafting
Labor doulas-do you join mom at home to labor with her? Or meet at the hospital? And why?
I join mom and her partner whenever they are ready for me wherever that may be. Ideally I meet them in active labor at the place where they will birth but that is completely flexible.
From the small business owner aspect, what is the toughest part of doula work?
Managing all of the boring stuff like taxes, business license, expenses is tough. That’s not why I became a doula. But I am learning!
Do you ever feel burned out?
How do you avoid burn out?
I take time for myself every weekday morning by reading, meditating, setting a manageable to do list, and showering before spending time with my family. I also have learned it’s important to say no sometimes so that I don’t over schedule myself.