For this World Doula Week Blog Challenge topic, I am interviewing a fellow doula. I was lucky enough to meet Melinda recently at a training and felt an instant connection. Melinda expressed a deep devotion to and love of serving families, something which I definitely understand. It’s an honor to interview Melinda, The Marquette County Birth Doula.
S: Melinda, thanks so much for agreeing to let me interview you! First, let’s start with where you serve families and what your business name is:
M: My name is Melinda Britton and I own Birthed in Joy, Doula Services LLC. The services currently offered are Certified Doula Services, Placenta Services, and Birth Consultations. I serve women and families in the Marquette area, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
S: Since we can’t hear you speaking, I just want to mention how fun it was to listen to you speak. The difference in dialect wasn’t always obvious, but sometimes it snuck through and gave me pause. 😉 Moving on, my first question is what brought you into the doula world and how long ago was it?
M: I started my journey into becoming a doula over five years ago, after the birth of my daughter, Zemirah. The unwavering support of my husband, along with another woman during my birth left a deep and beautiful impact on me. As I reflected on my birth experience, and the words of encouragement spoken over me, I knew that I wanted to do that for birthing women. From there I found the role of a doula, and mentioned to my husband that maybe someday I’d love to be a doula. A few months later he surprised me with The Doula Book and The Birth Partner. Looking back, it was the best gift he’s ever given me (besides his contribution to our babies), and truly did awaken the dreams of my heart in this way!
S: How neat! Supportive partners really can make a huge difference, can’t they? My second question is most and least favorite parts abotu being a doula.
M: Favorite part of being a doula: the women (couples) and families I get to work with! I have met so many strong, and powerful women through my work as a doula. Five years in I’m still so humbled and honored by the fact that I’m literally invited into one of the most vulnerable and empowering experience a woman (couple) can possibly have. Also the fact that I get to be a part of welcoming babies earthside, it’s a wonder and a miracle every time.
Most Difficult Part: The on-call life, and also making sure I’m not an island. I think any doula you talk to will mention the on call life, especially if she has children of her own. I’m thankful though that I have wonderful childcare and I do have a doula back up doula partner which is very helpful. I am known to get a little bout of insomnia when I am on call, I think it’s just the excitement. Thank goodness I’ve got my oils (cedarwood and lavender) to help get some sleep! Doula work, while absolutely amazing, does bring many situations to work through on a personal level. Self care is a must.
S: Amen to that, sister. Self care is something that doesn’t seem to come easy to many of us, but we learn quickly that it’s a necessity. As for being invited into a family’s birthing journey, you’re spot on! I can’t imagine a better job! Next question, where do you see yourself/your doula biz in five years?
M: That is a very good question! I need to start by saying that my mindset as a doula, woman, and business owner has shifted a ton in the last few months after attending ProDoula’s Advanced Business Training. Also, from the training, I was able to connect with so many amazing doulas, you included! Through networking, sharing ideas, and having finally found my tribe of strong women/doulas that really pour into me, I’ve started making some really big changes. I’m doing a Mother’s Day Essay Contest, and Marquette’s very first Belly to Baby Expo is coming this Fall! I also just recently did my first ever booth at the Holistic Health Fair in Marquette, it was such an amazing time. I felt very embraced by our community as their local doula. I keep planning to work toward that in the next five years along with these others things: continuing to serve my clients with unwavering support, educating our community on what a doula is, providing events for local women/families to connect with their options, and honoring the role of a mother and shouting it from the rooftops (or Hogsback, our local mountain)! I’m hoping to eventually expand my business whether that’s in partnership or agency, and to get my Lactation Counselor Certfication along with my Postpartum Doula Certification. I’m very, very excited about the future!
S: Wow! Sounds like lots of good stuff happening now and planned for the future. I’m excited to see where you’ll go. My fourth question goes back in time, instead of forward. If you could talk to yourself five years ago, what would you say?
M: If I could tell myself something five years ago , it would be this: VALUE YOURSELF GIRL (financially and emotionally) and YOU ARE SMART! When I started off as a doula I charged $200. I was afraid to charge more. I felt like I had to prove myself to be worthy as a doula before I could charge more. I needed more experience, more knowledge, more affirmation from local birth workers, the more list went on and on. I think it’s such a lie and complete shame that doulas are made to feel like because it’s something they love how could they truly be payed well for it. I mean when was the last time you saw a thread of someone asking for a free mechanic or a free chiropractor? I’d be honestly afraid to go to them. My mindset really started to shift after I read a blog that talked about how brand new doulas offer their services for free, and how that ultimately they are valuing themselves less than a Mcdonald’s happy meal toy. Yikes!
Since I didn’t have a background in nursing when I started my doula work, I felt insecure about not knowing how to pronounce medical terms or the fact that I couldn’t spew off exact percentages at the drop of the hat. What I realized though is that we live in a society where people pride themselves on “knowing it all” but I’ve just decided to always stay a learner rather than worrying about having to know all the answers. Through certification, workshops, and relationships with other doulas, midwives, and doctors, I’ve gained a ton of knowledge and do feel more competent now then when I started but ultimately when I look back I’m thankful I had the grace to keep going when I felt so small. Seriously, I’m sure as others read this they can think of something they aren’t doing because they don’t feel they are smart enough, or enough period. I’ve got to tell you: it’s completely a lie. YOU ARE ENOUGH, go after your dreams!
S: Go past you! Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say?
M: Certification: Yes, yes, and yes. It’s like my friend Emily (Mama Bear Doula), says “If someone took drivers ed but didn’t take the test and pass would you want to let them drive you somewhere?” No, no, and no. Certification is not snobbery, it shows that someone has invested into being a doula. For me personally it was a financial investment (continues to be since I’m dual certifying), a time investment (countless late nights while nursing my babe, time away from my family), professional investment (you can be sure I’m not going to go outside the practice of a doula), the list goes on and on.
S: Thank you Melinda for letting me interview you. It’s been fun!
Melinda lives in Marquette, MI with her husband Phil. She has five children, three earthside. Along with being a certified doula, she is a stay at home mom, and a distributor of Young Living Oils. She is the Co-Founder of the U.P. Birth Circle. In her spare time she enjoys good food, good drinks, and good company. If you’d like to follow her on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram, use the tag: /birthedinjoy
This WDW blog challenge is hosted by Not Just Nine Birth Services.