Hello and welcome back to Motherhood Chats Unfiltered. Today we interviewed Kiera Walsh. Kiera is a Doula who helps moms navigate their entire birth and postpartum experience. I hope you enjoy Kiera's responses as much as I did! Let's dive in!
What led you to become a doula?
I'm a homebirth mama of one and my life was forever changed after my birth experience. During all 72 hours of my labor, I was surrounded by the most amazing and supportive birth team, including my midwives, doula, and husband. I was completely blown away by the level of care and support that I received. It was unlike any expectations I had about childbirth.
From that moment on I was inspired and determined to help other first time mamas have the incredible birth experience that they dream of. Since then, my passion for birth has led me to becoming a Certified Birth & Postpartum Doula.
So much of birth and postpartum is not talked about enough. I am determined to flip the script on expectations of birth and postpartum for moms, whether this is their first child or their fifth. It’s unfortunately the norm in our society for moms to fear birth, and then have the expectation that everything suddenly goes back to normal once the baby is born, and that is far from the truth. I’m on a mission to empower moms through their birth journey into postpartum so that they can have the best possible experience.
How long have you been practicing?
I'm a DONA trained Doula and Newborn Care Specialist, and I am in my first year of providing birth and postpartum doula services to moms! It has been an incredible experience and I’m looking forward to working with more mothers and families during their pregnancy, birth, and beyond.
What is the most important postpartum care advice you would offer?
Number one, give yourself so much grace. And then give yourself more. Postpartum is an unknown and uncharted territory for so many moms, even if this isn’t their first child, and it’s not talked about enough. I encourage moms to be empowered to voice their needs when they are struggling and know that it is okay to ask for help. No mother can do it all, all the time. That is sometimes an unrealistic expectation that we—as moms, place on ourselves. It’s okay to ask for help.
Number two, hire a doula if you are able to. A lot of moms have a misunderstanding that doulas are only there to help them through birth. But postpartum doulas are so beneficial in providing mom with the education, support, and empowerment she needs to heal and establish herself in motherhood.
So much of pregnancy and birth is focused on the baby, rightfully so, but the mother is also going through a tremendous amount of change. A postpartum doula is the one and only support that is there solely for supporting the mother. It is the one investment that is just for the mom, even if you have support from your family.
Having a postpartum plan is crucial to establishing new routines and healing once baby is born. After baby arrives, you're often left with a lot of questions, overwhelm, and a need for help in caring for yourself and your new bundle of joy.
As a Postpartum Doula and Newborn Care Specialist, my job is to "mother the mother" and assist with anything you may need so that you can heal and have the best possible postpartum experience possible. This includes sleep support, newborn care, feeding and lactation support, emotional support, and establishing a postpartum partner plan so that communication can be seamless during this transition.
It is important to me that you and your family have the support you may need as you recover both physically and emotionally from your birth.
How do you help moms overcome their birthing fears?
Between birth choices, birth plans, and all of your options, it can be overwhelming. I empower moms to break down barriers and help them navigate the overwhelm of birth options by providing evidence-based research. I hold space for mothers to make their own decisions about their birth. I believe in a mother’s ability to follow their intuition, and trust that they know what's best for them.
I help moms learn to give themselves grace while unlocking their potential to have the birth that they truly desire, no matter what that looks like for them--hospital, birth center, at home, medicated, unmedicated—it is THEIR birth. As a birth doula, I’m here to help mothers find their voice, step into their power, and take control of their birth.
It’s my mission to give moms the tools that prepare them for a birth that aligns with their values, without fear, guilt, or shame. All mothers deserve to feel confident in their choices and have the knowledge to choose the birth that’s right for them. Whether it's in a hospital, or in your home, I'll be there to walk with you through every step-- from pregnancy, to guiding you through labor, until you're holding your baby in your arms. As your doula, I never leave your side.
What breastfeeding advice would you offer to new moms?
As I always say—give yourself so much grace. Breastfeeding is a different journey for everyone. Each mom has their own experience. As a Doula, I believe there is not enough education and awareness surrounding the ups and downs that come with breastfeeding. When mamas are pregnant they are often bombarded with “breast is best”, and before they’re even holding their baby in their arms they’re feeling the guilt and pressure that they are “supposed” to breastfeed.
There are so many unexpected challenges that can come with breastfeeding such as supply issues, lip ties, tongue ties, difficulty latching, mastitis, nursing strikes, and engorgement. The list could go on. But what isn’t talked about enough is the mothers mental health while breastfeeding. Postpartum hormones are not always friendly—the anxiety, the depression, the guilt, anger, and shame. Even my own breastfeeding journey has had emotional peaks and valleys.
Breastfeeding is an incredible way to bond with your baby, and it has amazing benefits for both mother and baby, but it isn’t always the best choice for everyone. And that is okay! Even as a breastfeeding mom, a breastfeeding advocate, and a doula, I am not naive to think it’s an easy process and that every mom is capable of making it to a certain milestone.
It is absolutely crucial for moms who choose to breastfeed to surround themselves with support, knowledge, and a team who is there to help them. This may include a doula, a lactation consultant, their partner and/or family, as well as resources such as breastfeeding mom support groups and positive and empowering social media pages.
You can find Kiera on Instagram at @thegracedoula, or you can learn more about her services on her website, www.thegracedoula.com where you can download your free birth prep resource guide!