What we women envision childbirth to be and what actually happens can be miles apart. We may plan on a natural birth, but end up with an epidural. We hope we remember all we learned in our birth classes, especially when transition hits, but our pain is overwhelming and we forget how or when to breathe. We do our best to work with those contractions to bring that baby into the hands of the doctor, but it’s just not coming and we are soooo tired. A C-section is mentioned perhaps, when we are at our weakest, and we succumb. Finally, it’s all over. Baby is healthy and you’re exhausted and sure you will NEVER do this again!
Then two or three years later….we tend to forget! But not everything. We want another child, but isn’t there a better way to give birth? So this time….
You Decide to Hire a Doula!
Kristen Bratnick, a Cardinal graduate, wife, mom, and local resident, is the owner of Freya Birthing Services, LLC and birth and postpartum doula. And postpartum what? I, too, had never heard the term ‘doula’ until my daughter-in-law told me that she was searching for one when she became pregnant a few years ago. The doula would be her support person throughout her pregnancy, would attend her birth and be an additional support to the midwives at the hospital, then visit her at home afterward. Interesting, I thought. I had midwives for six of my seven births and didn’t quite grasp the doula concept until she explained things as she progressed through her pregnancy.
Like all of us moms, Kristen has her own childbirth tales. But hers didn’t stop there. They led into a profession of sharing the wondrous childbirth experience over and over again.
“I decided to become a doula after an empowering second birth. My first birth was very traditional by modern standards. I feared the pain and didn’t trust that my body could handle it. I wanted a natural birth, but my son was not in an ideal position which led to a 38 hour labor with an epidural. I was unaware of options to encourage baby to change positions for less pain (and likely a shorter labor) and wasn’t well versed in natural pain relief options. I attended the hospital childbirth class to prepare myself and read a lot, but interventions seemed to be the main theme, and I was just unaware of the huge amount of options that were available to me.
“After that fear-filled and painful birth, I wanted something different for my second. I explored many different options that were available to me during pregnancy, labor, and delivery. My birth experience was so much more positive. I felt in charge of what was happening to me and felt in control of the pain. I felt empowered. At that moment, I knew I wanted to help other women have the beautiful and joyful experience I had achieved.”
I know that right now, there are many women reading this who completely empathize with Kristen! You, too, were determined after your first child was born you would do things differently the next time. You just knew there had to be a better way.
Kristen goes on to say, “I became aware of doulas during my second pregnancy. I wanted a natural birth experience, and I dove in deep trying to find the knowledge I was after. Repeatedly, doulas were recommended in books, from friends, and the natural birth community. I didn’t fully research doulas until after my births, and it was like a light bulb went off.
“Doulas help to have the positive experience I’ve always wanted, but never fully had. The more I learned about them, the more excited I became about what they do. I wanted to help other women achieve a beautiful and sacred birth, so I decided to become a doula. I trained through Birth Arts International as a birth and postpartum doula and opened my business so I could offer that to other women.”
A Doula By Your Side…
before, during and after your birth.
Many of the women who come to Freya Birthing Services are determined not to accept a birth based in fear and unknown information. They want a beautiful, positive birth experience, and reject the idea that it just can’t happen without risky interventions.
“I was surprised to find that most of the moms who hire me are not first time moms,” says Kristen, “but moms who had a typical first birth experience and wanted something better the second (or third) time around. Generally, they are fed up with the side effects from common interventions (inductions, epidurals, cesarean sections) and are aiming for a natural birth experience.”
Once the client chooses which birth setting and provider she would like, Kristen works with that provider as a team for the mother to be. “I do strongly encourage mothers with typically progressing, low risk pregnancies to explore the midwifery option, but I work with whomever the client has chosen for her provider. We have fantastic midwives in this area, from home birth to birth center to hospital, and my referral list is long!”
The labor and birth support package is Kristen’s most popular service and the root of Freya Birthing Services. That package supports women during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period with information, physical, and emotional support. “I really focus on helping women to embrace the entire experience,” says Kristen. Other services offered complement that experience of achieving a positive pregnancy and birth. Visit her website to find details of her many services.
5 Reasons to Consider a Doula
- You want a natural birth or one with fewer interventions for the benefit of both you and your baby.
- The idea of someone supporting and pampering you while you are laboring is appealing to you.
- Having someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in childbirth to help your birth partner know how to support you is important to you.
- You’d like to have someone who is knowledgeable about interventions, with whom you can discuss the risks, benefits, and possible alternatives before making a decision when you’re in the heat of the moment and an intervention is proposed.
- There is just so much to know and you don’t know where to begin. A doula will provide you with all of your options so you can make the best choice for your family in areas you may not have even been aware a choice existed.
Do What You Love, Love What You Do
That perfectly describes Kristen’s life now that she has opened Freya Birthing Services. “I am so passionate about this work. My whole life has changed for the better since I opened this business. It is a joy everyday to work to help women find a satisfying birth experience in the way she defines that.”
Ina May Gaskin, who has been described as ‘the mother of authentic midwifery’ said, “If a woman doesn’t look like a goddess during labor, then someone isn’t treating her right.” To bring that goddess look to women is Kristen’s greatest joy. Unfortunately, she has also witnessed the opposite in some traditional medical settings where mothers were scared into choosing unnecessary interventions.
After such experiences, some of these moms made the choice to opt out of a repeat performance the second time round and to opt into hiring a doula. They have joined the growing ranks of women who are questioning the conventional approach toward pregnancy and birth.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the governing body of OBGYNs in the USA, released a new set of guidelines in February which aims to reduce the outrageous cesarean section rate in the United States from 32% to closer to the 15% maximum recommended by the World Health Organization. While OB’s will need to work to make these changes, it can take, on average, up to 17 years to see them widely implemented. One of the recommendations in ACOG’s guidelines is to hire a doula!
Experience the Full Life-Changing Miracle
Kristen chose the name Freya (fray-a) after a goddess of Norse mythology. Freya represented love, sexuality, beauty, and fertility, and she views her business to be symbolic of those things as well. “I strive to help women embrace these characteristics on the pregnancy path, and to feel empowered and positive during this journey.”
As she has journeyed through the birth process with her clients, Kristen has made some wonderful new friendships. Historically, giving birth has always been one of most intimate and meaningful phases of a woman’s life and produced strong bonds with the other women in the community. The whole miraculous process of the formation of a tiny new life was never intended to be experienced alone, but to be shared with close friends and family who are present throughout the entire process. All involved would gain the deep satisfaction of lifetime bonds, especially women with other women.
Sadly, in today’s culture, such intimate friendships of sharing life’s most precious moments have almost become a lost treasure and have left many women feeling far less fulfilled than they had anticipated. Bringing the birth experience back into the realm of home with the understanding that it is not a malady, but one of the most divine and indescribable joys a family can share, is something all mothers-to-be should have the opportunity to know. Perhaps a doula is one way to help make that happen. Give Kristen a call. She can answer any questions you may have and open the door to a world of joy you may never know existed!
Call or text 440-364-2215