The absolute greatest three days of my life, were when each of my children were born. It’s as if I took my first breath when each of my children inhaled for the first time. Motherhood defines me and endlessly gives me my purpose for being. I loved being pregnant. While each of my pregnancies were different, with accompanying waves of worry and concern, I found comfort in my growing belly, sonograms, hearing the heartbeat and every wiggle, kick and movement that registered. I had a wonderful support system. A devoted husband, an amazing OB/GYN, and my experienced mom, all who gave me the reassurance needed throughout each nine-month journey. “Women have been giving birth since the beginning of time,” my mom would remind me. This reminder from the woman who was “knocked out” during my birth while my dad paced in the waiting room until hearing “it’s a girl!”
Fortunately times have changed when it comes to being “present” during the birthing process, for both moms and dads. I know how lucky I am having a support system while many women do not. Whether living far from family, or just wanting to chart a childbirth course different from their mother’s, women have many more choices during their personal nine-month journey.
“The pendulum is swinging back to a time when natural births are healthier,” says Martha Lerner, CLD. CAPPA Labor Doula. Martha, a devoted mother and certified doula, should know since she has been an integral part of this resurgence. Martha became a CAPPA Certified Doula in 2014. So, “what is a doula?” I was wondering as well. The word doula is a Greek word meaning women’s servant.
CAPPA which stands for Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association, is an international certification organization for Doulas, Childbirth Educators and Lactation Educators. Doulas fill an important role in providing emotional, physical, and evidence-based, informational support to the birthing woman and her family before, during, and after birth. CAPPA Labor Doulas are skilled support persons who act as consultants and resources, not clinicians (according to cappa.net.)
While 1994 marked the year the first doula became certified by DONA International (dona.org,) the supporting role that women have played in helping other women through their birthing process dates back to the beginning of time. Martha reminisced about being invited into the delivery room during the many births of family and friends, even before receiving her doula certification. She was a natural at giving emotional support, creating relaxation during the most difficult times, and reassuring parents of the beauty of this magical and natural moment.
Over the course of fifteen years, while Martha served as an educator in both Middle School and High School, she observed a rapidly growing disconnect between her students and their parents, many whom were seeking her advice. Martha became inspired to become a Peaceful Parenting Coach, playing a positive role in impacting our youth, empowering parents and bridging the widening emotional gap between the two. Martha believes it’s never too early to instill these principles necessary for strengthening families. While understanding her innate passion for the family unit was paramount to her personal growth, Martha also honored her keen interest in the field of pregnancy and child birthing and pursued her doula certification, interlacing her knowledge with her compassion.
“My forte happens to be in the spiritual, emotional, physical, and informational support, rather than the clinical aspect,” Martha discovered. “I subsequently learned that I come from generations of midwives who practiced in Cuba,” she boasted. So becoming a doula made perfect sense. Especially for all those she has supported through this daunting, incomparable, unforgettable, magical and life-changing experience known as childbirth.
“My experience and struggles have pushed me to devote my life to helping families feel supported on their own journeys throughout pregnancy, birth and beyond. Doulas are simply there for you. We hold space. We are your ally, your partner, your sister, your mother, your coach and your friend all rolled up into one during that magical time of pregnancy and birth. And we are grateful and honored to be able to serve you and be a witness to your miracle.”
Martha takes great pride in a monthly Women’s Support Circle she leads. “I unite women of all ages and stages who have worked with me in some capacity and offer a safe space to talk and share their current struggles as well as successes, so they feel supported.”
Martha looks forward to her future special deliveries. “Peaceful Parenting 101” and “The Mindset Makeover,” are original online courses she looks forward to offering, as well as authoring a book on raising Highly Sensitive Children. Martha’s broad range of talents and her career as a doula is no doubt, her labor of love.