We’re all familiar with the term midwife and the work they’ve done for centuries assisting in the birthing process. Throughout the 19th century in America, midwives attended the majority of births, particularly in the South but by the 20th century with the advancement of medicine and technology midwifery was discouraged. That is until the 1960’s when the natural birth movement began.
The next major movement for midwifery was during the Civil War Era. It was during this time that women began migrating back to using midwives because so many were dying under the care of physicians in hospitals due to improper sterilization procedures. Word spread fast about the deaths and many pregnant women opted to have their baby at home with the assistance of a midwife.
Imagine a setting where a family is supported both psychologically and physically through their life changing experience of childbirth. An experience, in which the entire family can welcome the new baby in a loving environment.
If this sounds like your ideal environment to welcome your new baby, let me introduce you to Shardae Walker-Simpkins better known as “Boho Mama”. Shardae is a practicing Doula, a mother of three beautiful children, two girls and one baby boy and she’s married to Mr. Davin Simpkins whom she has known since they were young children.
Getting to Know The Doula
YDB: Shardae tell us all about your work as a Doula.
SS: I am a Birth Doula and Lactation Expert. I support, educate, & empower women throughout their pregnancy and in the labor & delivery room.
YDB: How did you come to choose this fascinating work?
SS: Before becoming a Doula, I worked in the beauty industry for 6 years. One day, during an appointment, one of my clients who was expecting began to telling me about her pregnancy journey. She told me how she had hired a doula and educated me on the role that a doula plays in a woman’s pregnancy and birthing journey. She also shared with me that it was the best decision she had ever made. By the end of our conversation, I was very intrigued and inspired! As I did more research, I began to reflect on my own pregnancy and birthing experiences. Reflecting back, I recognized that I had already been unconsciously playing the role of a doula with women in my community. I had finally discovered my mission in life!
What lessons has being a Doula taught you?
YDB: What’s one of the most important things you’ve learned in your profession?
SS: One of the most important things that I’ve learned is that birth is not only physical but also mental and spiritual. It is the total surrender of a woman’s self pride for the life of another, and it’s so magical! Giving birth requires a great level of consciousness and I’ve learned to honor the spiritual dimension of pregnancy and birth.
YDB: What are the common myths surrounding your services?
SS: One common myth is that a doula interferes with the bond between the expectant mom and her partner. Another myth is, if an expectant woman has a midwife, she doesn’t need a doula. It’s also a myth that Midwives and Doulas don’t work well together and Moms of multiples wouldn’t benefit from having a doula because they’ve already experienced it a number of times.
What’s the lifestyle of a Doula Like?
SS: I am a stay at home wife and mom of three. Balance is something I’m still working to find, especially because my role as a mom of three is so demanding.
God has played a huge part in helping me find balance, without him, it would all be impossible.Although being a doula can be a very lucrative job, my family is my first ministry. I am very adamant about making time for my husband and our kids. Throughout the week, I get as much work done as I can in the daytime during the kids’ nap and lunch time, so that it doesn’t interfere with our home schedule.
When preparing for a birth, I also make sure my home is prepared and my family has what they need. I tackle the house chores like laundry, dishes, meal preps and kids homework to ensure my family is good while I’m working. I also, spend individual time with each of my children so that we have our special time together.
What challenges have you faced and overcome?
SS: I battled with postpartum depression, after having my son. I can remember feeling unfulfilled in every area of my life. I didn’t have the desire to be a Mom or wife, I didn’t have the desire to pray, nor did I have the desire to do anything around the house or even outside of the house.
I couldn’t seem to find balance in anything until I joined some support groups for women with postpartum depression, I started working on me by eating better and taking care of my body. Doing these things plus surrounding myself with a tribe who loved on me until I was well again made a huge difference in my wellbeing.
YDB: What inspires you?
SS: Looking back to a time when I felt completely unfulfilled and didn’t know who I was outside of being a wife and mom, I remember how far I’ve come and it inspires me to keep pushing even on my worse days.
YDB: What’s one piece of advice you would give to couples and families on maintaining balance?
SS: Keep God at the center of everything that you do and balance will come very naturally.
YDB: What resources do you offer in your business to help couples and families?
SS: I’ve built relationships with chiropractors, massage therapists, pediatricians, gynecologists, counselors, lactation consultants and herbalists so that I have a great referral network for my clients. I also provide and educate couples and families on information specific to their situation and the kind of birth they desire. I’m the bridge that connects them to whatever resource can assist them best.
YDB: What is one thing your program and services did for a client you didn’t expect?
SS: At 32 weeks, I conduct prenatal appointments with my clients. A prenatal appointment involves me making a in-home visit to the couple and family. We discuss birth plans, labor pain coping methods and breathing techniques. After conducting a clients first prenatal appointment, the client posted a comment on twitter about her experience with me and how safe and prepared I made her feel about her impending labor. I didn’t expect to make such an impact on the client and her partner, but I did, and it was the best feeling ever!
YDB: Tell me about a client who touched your heart and how?
SS: At the beginning of my doula journey, a sweet friend of mine had just found out that she and her husband were expecting and she asked me to be her doula. I had absolutely no birthing experience besides my own. I had no training or any certifications. Me not having any of these things bothered her! She knew I aspired to be a doula and she trusted me as her doula. She believed in me and that meant the world to me.
What are some trends in your current industry that are favorable to clients?
SS: Doulas assisting midwives in homes, hospitals, and birthing centers are some of the current industry trends.
YDB: What other wisdom can you impart to help couples and families live their best life?
SS: Their feelings, thoughts, opinions, perspective, voice, and the way that their birth story is told deeply matters! It’s possible to create their own narrative with the assistance of a doula.