What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?
“I started photography 3 years ago in college to capture moments of my young children and the hobby quickly turned into a passion. I spent about 2 years building my skills before shooting my first birth. After that first birth, I instantly fell in love and ultimately decided to specialize in birth and newborn”.
“I absolutely love birth and I’m fascinated with all it has to offer. I love capturing my clients authentic and raw story”. -Rowan Steiner
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
“I love being able to provide families with memories that they’ll be able to cherish forever”.
What’s the nicest thing a customer has ever said to you about your products/service?
“I had a customer say, ‘Not only were my birth center birth photos documented gorgeously … but Rowan contributed her gentle but supportive energy into the room. I connected with her and also forgot she was there – if that makes sense. I had a preview photo that I could use for social media announcing within a few hours of my sons birth. I will cherish her work for me as long as I live’.”
What do you enjoy most about your partnership with the UDA?
“I enjoy the genuine connections I get to make with other birth workers in the community”!
As we prepare for the current UDA conference, I thought it might be fine to look back twelve years ago to 2007, the year I was the conference committee chair. It was also a year with a lot of “firsts” for the UDA: The first Fall Retreat, the first mentoring groups, and the first time the UDA honored a care provider. Angie Rosier served as president, and had a well staffed board that worked hard at expanding the UDA’s reach into the community and building connections with hospitals and care providers. Our annual membership drive, held in conjunction with the conference, brought the UDA up to a record 58 members.
The Utah Doula Association conference that year had the theme CSI: Clients Seeking Information, and most of the sessions were hands on sessions about how to create and use teaching tools to help their clients understand the concepts.
43 people attended the conference, which was held in a rented conference room at the Stevens Henager College in Murray. We made models of the layers of anatomy used in cesarean birth, foam dilation models, and discussed different styles of presenting information to clients, teaching in a mentoring style, and how to best use videos as teaching tools.
One regular feature of conferences during this era was the Birth Swap, where any UDA member could bring birth related items to sell silent auction style. It was really popular and happened at every conference for nearly a decade.
2007 also marked the start of the Mentoring groups, and six of them were held that year, with the topics of premature birth, the DONA certification process, breastfeeding, VBAC, marketing techniques and a field trip to tour Bella Natal (the first birth suite opened by Suzanne Smith, later became Better Birth Orem). IMC in Murray opened that year, and there was a lot of discussion and planning about doing a mentoring meeting there, but ultimately the hospital declined.
The weekend after Labor Day, each area representative of the UDA planned an “After the Labor Day” picnic in the park for doulas and their clients. Picnics were held in Taylorsville, Fruit Heights, and Orem.
2007 also brought the very first Fall Retreat. This was, by design, a day of relaxation and self care for doulas. Topics included a yoga session, story telling, guided imagery, an exploration of spirituality and birth, and a very fun birth art session with clay! It was held in the basement of the building where the Midwives College of Utah is, and 30 people came. The very first provider honored by the UDA was given to RaeAnn Peck. A potluck lunch was a highlight of the day as well. After the end of the retreat, all were invited to join in at dinner at Buca di Beppo in Midvale.
And that brings us to the end of this particular walk down memory lane. It’s great to see how the UDA has grown since then!
To celebrate World Doula Week we reached out to a few of our UDA members to learn why they “doula.” Here’s what they had to say:
“I doula because I believe every birthing person has a right to be treated with respect and compassion, and that doing so leads to better health outcomes. I believe positive birth experiences aren’t just a women’s issue or a parents’ issue, but a public health issue. Our world would change for the better if life began with empowered parents and I want to do my part to help that unfold. I want to remind women of their intrinsic power; to help build confidence in their body and abilities as a mother. I’m a bereavement doula because how parents experience the birth of their baby matters especially in the face of loss. I’m a doula because I want to offer loving kindness in difficult moments.” -Heather Tolley
“I doula because I love it! I’m able to help mothers and fathers discover their strengths and achieve their goals. I get to witness couples bond in a new and unique way. I make special connections with people that I wouldn’t have otherwise and most of all I see love, strength, and beauty every time I go to work!” -Rachel Seangsuwan
“I doula because I am called to the work. Years ago on a phone conversation with my sister after complaining about experiencing zero passion in my corporate job, she said, “you ought to become a doula.” “What’s a doula?” I asked her. She briefly explained the role of a doula and a strong voice inside me said, ‘I was born to do that.’ Doula work is meaningful work, it touches lives in a significant way that leaves me satisfied every time. I love engaging in the transition of this new life, it’s the perfect blend of practical and soulful work.” -Meredith Cohen
“I doula because I love serving women and couples through one of the most vulnerable and exciting times of their lives. I love helping them feel supported, loved, and educated along the way. I cherish the relationships I gain with each family. To be apart of someone’s birth is truly an honor.” -Meagan Heaton
“I doula because I believe adding a baby to the family is a time when parents can find new confidence and learn new skills that can have a positive impact on their families for many years to come. I really enjoy seeing that process happen and being a small part in facilitating that. Witnessing the love and joy that welcomes a new baby is a huge plus, too.” -Andrea Lythgoe
The term “doula” is a relatively new one. Although the Greeks used the term “doula” to mean a female slave, or handmaid, it wasn’t until 1969 that the term was first applied to birth work.
In the half-century that followed, doulas went from completely unknown to a household name. With the formation of DONA in 1992, Ricki Lake’s documentary, “The Business of Being Born” in 2008, and the Facebook series, “Romper’s Doula Diaries“, people were exposed to a new part of the birthing world. There are now hundreds of doula certifying bodies and organizations. In addition to birth support there are antenatal/prenatal, postpartum, bereavement, abortion, adoption/surrogacy, and even death/end of life doulas.
Although doulas provide strictly non-medical support, science backs their efficacy. Studies show consistently better birth outcomes with doulas than without including shorter labors, less reported pain, fewer interventions and a higher rate of satisfaction with the birth experience. While serving prenatally or in the postpartum period, doulas are perfectly positioned to notice and provide resources for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders such as postpartum depression and anxiety.
Doulas help bridge the gap by providing a unique support to their clients. Here’s what some local parents had to say about their experience working with a doula:
“For me I felt like a doula was a big support for the role of my spouse. As a woman you read and study a lot about labor and delivery, but I feel like my husband just wasn’t prepared. So having a doula out there to help him and help him to feel part of the labor and delivery was awesome. I also think an acting voice for when you are in full labor was super helpful along with the different types of calming and soothing techniques”. (Thompson)
“I don’t know how we did it last time. I really don’t think we could have done it without a doula. Why doesn’t everyone get a doula?” (Orton)
“Having a doula at my birth gave me the fortitude to push through all the opposition I felt. The thoughts that frequently come up of, ‘I can’t do this’ were negated immediately by the female companionship of an amazing supportive doula.” (VBAC mom, Nance)
“Having a doula brought a needed calm and supportive presence into my labor. Her attention to detail was spot-on and she came prepared with ideas and tools that eased my labor and made the experience one to remember.” (Zitto)
The Utah Doula Association (UDA) has over 150 members consisting of doulas and local community partners. The non-profit strives to provide a community of support, opportunity, and education to both doulas and families seeking a doula. Happy World Doula Week to its members and all doulas who are changing the world one family at a time!
Dezerae found her interest in birth while pregnant with her oldest. She attended her first birth as a doula in 2013. In addition to being a birth doula, Dezarae is also a trained bereavement doula helping parents during miscarriage and stillbirths. In 2015, she took a breastfeeding training through the World Health Organization and found a second passion in supporting parents in their chosen feeding method. Dezarae loves cheering for parents, especially when they feel like they can’t do it, and is honored to witness the birth of mothers, fathers, grandparents, and babies!
Bill Clinton began his first term as president, Sleepless in Seattle was packing the movie theaters, Whitney Houston crooned that she would Always Love You, and Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears & Christina Aguilera were all Mouseketeers. It was 1993.
The Utah Association of Childbirth Companions, founded by Kristi Ridd the year before, began publishing a newsletter. Some things that were happening in this group that would eventually become to be the Utah Doula Association:
Donna Peterson and Jan Black were congratulated on becoming the first Certified Childbirth Companions by the organization. Other members were encouraged to take the certification exam in October.
An article encouraged members to sign up for a pager service so they could lead active lives while on call. The association had arranged for discounts on paging service as well.
The semi annual membership meeting would be held at a pavilion at Sugarhouse Park, and members were to bring their own dinner and come prepared to learn more about second stage. At that meeting, the 1994 board was elected, with Alisa Dudley as president, 6 area reps, a newsletter editor, and a DONA representative. Annual membership cost $25 and included membership in Doulas of North America (DONA)
Members were invited to use their personal computers and modem to join “Birth” – the first world-wide computerized forum about childbearing. The instructions to access the forum:
“To connect with BIRTH for the first time, call channel 1 in Cambridge, Massachusetts at (phone number) You will be asked online to give your name and select a password. Then you’ll see a menu. Type J-BIRTH, then leave a message. The next time you phone, you’ll receive a response online with the telephone number of a board in your area.”
Members were invited to join in the local ICEA conference. It was held on a Saturday afternoon, with Holly Richardson and Kristi Ridd speaking and a panel of care providers and parents. Cost was $5.
Can you imagine trying to do doula work without a cell phone? How would you go about marketing and connecting with potential clients without a web site, social media, texting or email? Or connecting with other doulas to find backup and community without the internet?
Hi everyone! I’m Karina and I’m excited to serve as the UDA President this year alongside the brilliant Bonnie Baker!
Our theme for this year is “Better Together”. We want to create unity without uniformity and diversity without fragmentation. We believe we are better together than we are separate and that many hands make light work. We hope that we can help new doulas connect and find their tribe to lift them up to success and that seasoned doulas will allow us all to glean from them to better our skill-sets and to form good relationships with providers.
Our goal for the UDA
this year is to support our sisters with whom we have been working side by side
and strengthen our connections to each other and the community where we work.
We want to be a
resource for doulas, new or experienced, that if you need support with
anything, help is only a request away!
My journey to become a Birth Doula started as I prepared to become pregnant with my first baby. I knew that I wanted to have an unmedicated birth, and I have Type 1 Diabetes which could make it harder to achieve. During my research I realized that many women don’t know their options during childbirth and many don’t even realize they HAVE options. After having my eyes opened to this magical world of birth I could not close them again, nor did I want to. I want to help every birthing woman feel empowered, supported, educated, and excited for the birth of her baby.
I am a Certified Advanced Birth Doula, HypnoDoula, The Bradley Method instructor, Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, Mother’s Blessing Coordinator, Moxibustion Practitioner, and Bengkung Belly Binding Practitioner. When I’m not doing one of those things, I am loving on and caring for my 3 children, binge watching Netflix shows, gaming with my husband, or screen printing shirts.
I look forward to working together with each of you this year as we build relationships with each other and the care providers and nurses we work with, because we are Better Together.
Hi everyone! I’m Bonnie and I’m excited to serve as the UDA Vice President this year!
I came to love all things birth related through the birth of my children. I am a mother, wife, yogi, bookworm, and wanna-be world traveler who is working hard to expand my passport. I also remodel houses from time to time and I’ve noticed that construction is like pregnancy, birth, and transition, it’s hard work but the pay off is so worth it! I am also a Birth Doula, Hypnobabies Instructor, Happiest Baby on the Block New Parent Educator, Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, and Bengkung Belly Binding Practitioner.
I love nutrition, cooking, green living, and making new friends. I want the Utah Doula Association to be a place where doulas feel safe to reach out with questions, advice or ideas, to make connections that further their passions, and to provide a space to process the hard things that come with our role in birth. I’m excited to walk alongside Karina, who is organized, driven, and all around good at whatever she does. Our mission is to take what years past have established and build upon it to continue to make the Utah Doula Association great! We have a strong board and amazing members in this group.
We welcome your advice and suggestions through our feedback form so that your voice counts this year.