I’m really excited to introduce you to TWO Smarty Moms this weekend (love having two Smarty moms – twice the knowledge and know-how!). Carrie Johnsen, CD(DONA), LCCE and Julie Morris, CD(DONA) are two incredible moms with one incredible business – Doula Partners. They are certified doulas who specialize in birth and labor doula services and Lamaze childbirth education. They work with ALL types of mothers – first time parents, repeat parents, mothers planning VBAC’s (vaginal birth after cesarean), births of multiples, scheduled cesareans, hospital, birth center, and home births (they work closely with all area hospitals!).
Carrie and Julie are just normal working moms who have a passion for making every woman’s birth experience the best it can possibly be. I didn’t go the doula route for any of my pregnancies, but if I did, I would definitely want one of these ladies by my side (my husband would probably have been relieved, too! :-)). Read more about how they got into the business and what they love about it.
And if you’ve ever considered becoming a doula (really rewarding work, I would think!), listen up: Doula Partners is working with ProDoula, a doula certification agency, to hold a training session this fall in Charlotte. Save the dates October 3 and 4 and read on for more information.
Enjoy getting to know these two ladies – if you’ve considered using a doula or of becoming a doula, this might just be a life-changing Smarty Mom Saturday for you!
Smarties, meet Carrie and Julie!
Smarty Moms Carrie Johnsen and Julie Morris
Married to: Chris Johnsen for 11 years
Children: Katie (8), Haley (6), and Ellie (4)
Years in Charlotte: nine
Hometown: I was born in Cincinnati, grew up in Scottsdale, and lived in California for 13 years prior to Charlotte.
Alma Mater: University of the Pacific (undergrad), University of Oklahoma (grad school)
Married to: Joe Morris for 11 years
Children: Jacob (11), Jordyn (8)
Years in Charlotte: 30+
Hometown: Fort Mill, SC
‘Hood: Steele Meadows
Alma Mater: Campbell University
Did you have a doula for any of your births?
Carrie: My first birth resulted in a cesarean and my second was a scheduled repeat cesarean. When baby #2 was about six months old, I began the process to become a doula and shortly after a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. I call it my period of “enlightenment!” Two years later, with baby #3, Chris and I had a doula support us throughout pregnancy, labor, and birth. She was fantastic! She is a huge reason I had a successful VBA2C (vaginal birth after two cesareans).
Julie: Unfortunately, no. My story begins very similar to Carrie’s in that I was not <yet> educated about childbirth options at the time of my first child. His birth ended in a cesarean. With my second child, I was denied the option of having a VBAC so once again, I had a cesarean. This was the fuel that led me to want to advocate for and support women during pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum. Fortunately, for women today, research is a fingertip away. Being educated on your options for birth is easier than ever before and highly encouraged.
What made you become a doula?
Carrie: I have always been fascinated with childbirth and have loved hearing about women’s births. After my second baby, I was seriously considering going back to nursing school to become a labor and delivery nurse when a friend suggested I become a doula. I never looked back from that moment! Being a birth doula allows me to do what I love. I get to support women and their partners, in a non-medical fashion, during a sacred time in their life.
Julie: Attending my sister’s birth was the initial spark to becoming a doula paired with my own birth experiences and the feeling that there had to be a better way to go through this process. Supporting women through this sacred time and seeing the beauty of birth and the desire of women to have labor support validate this was the best decision for me.
Why do you love it?
Carrie & Julie: We truly enjoy caring for and nurturing women (and their partners) during a wonderful yet challenging time in their life. There is so much about labor and birth that we cannot control, but what we can control is how women are cared for. That is our job! We truly believe that having a positive birth experience sets a wonderful tone for parenthood. We always encourage parents to be well educated on their options so they can choose the best decisions for themselves. Women only give birth so many times in their life, why not do everything possible to prepare for a fabulous experience?!?!
What are some of the advantages to having a doula?
Carrie & Julie: As birth doulas, we provide physical, emotional, and informational support to women and their partners before, during, and after birth. During pregnancy, we are available to answer questions, address concerns, and share in the excitement of the upcoming arrival of the baby. During labor and birth, our support allows women to focus solely on their labor and it allows their husband/partner to experience it within their comfort level. Following birth, postpartum doulas provide in-home care by teaching, guiding, and supporting new and growing families as they nurture their newborn.
What is the most surprising part of being a doula – something you didn’t think about before you started?
Carrie & Julie: We wouldn’t say this is the most “surprising” per se but definitely the most exciting . . . the moment the baby is born! It never gets old for us watching a baby come into the world and joining the parents in their joy. It is truly an honor each and every time we attend a birth and celebrate a new life.
What type of person makes a good doula?
Carrie & Julie: Someone who is very nurturing and caring by nature makes a great doula. It is important for a successful doula to offer continual encouragement and support for her clients while establishing and maintaining a positive working relationship with the medical team, whether it’s the nurse, midwife, and/or doctor. It is important to find someone who does not have and/or push their own agenda. Women need to be met where they are with their own birth desires and choices and feel their doula is behind them 100%.
What can participants expect at the doula training session?
Carrie & Julie: We have two upcoming doula training workshops with ProDoula! ProDoula is a Doula Certification Agency which provides training, accreditation and business development expertise to women seeking to become Certified Doulas. The first is a Labor Doula workshop. During this workshop, participants will discuss and learn about birth philosophies, techniques for writing a birth plan, the Doulas “place” in the labor room, partnering with the staff and care providers, ways to judge the progression of labor, comfort measures during the various stages of labor with a strong focus on massage and breathing techniques, the “benefits and risks” of interventions, cesarean birth with a doula, challenging childbirths, early breastfeeding, and the postpartum follow-up visit. This will be a two-day workshop on October 3 and 4. The second is a Postpartum Doula workshop that will take place on October 5. During this workshop, participants can expect to learn about supporting a family on the first day home, physical recovery from birth, breastfeeding support, instruction in newborn care, emotional support, parenting philosophies, Baby Nurse versus Postpartum Doula, sibling care, multiples, postpartum depression, meal preparation, light housekeeping, the doula interview, contracts, business forms, and marketing. Women can register for either or both workshops here: http://www.prodoula.com/where/where-are-workshops-offered/ and are welcome to contact Carrie or Julie with any questions.
What’s something people don’t know or maybe don’t understand about doulas?
Carrie & Julie: Many people assume that doulas are for women who want a natural, unmedicated birth. That IS a great reason to hire a doula but there are many other reasons as well. Doulas can support ANY kind of birth including medicated (epidural), unmedicated, vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), multiples, inductions, scheduled cesarean, etc. A wonderful benefit in having a doula present during the birth is having tailored, non-medical care for the mom and her partner. The benefit to postpartum care is allowing the doula to nurture the mom while she nurtures her baby. Who doesn’t want to be pampered???
What are some of the best resources for expecting parents to use to decide if they might want to use a doula?
Carrie & Julie: Spending time perusing doula websites is a great way to start. Websites we recommend are www.doulapartners.com, www.charlottedoulas.org, and www.dona.org. We recommend contacting a handful of different doulas on the phone, sitting down in person with a few of them, and then making your decision from there. Most people can quickly get a sense if the doula will be a good fit for them or not. When you sit down in person, people need to ask themselves can I see this doula in my home? Am I comfortable discussing personal things with her? Can I see myself giving birth in front of her? Questions to consider when selecting a doula:
– What are the prospective doula’s certifications?
– How much experience does the doula have (births, years, etc.)?
– Is the doula available for your estimated due date?
– Do not be afraid to ask for references!
– Will the prospective doula enhance the relationship with the care provider I have chosen?
– Will the doula support my/our desires regardless of their own convictions, beliefs, or preconceived notion of the perfect birth scenario?
Now for the fun stuff…
Favorite name (besides your own kids’ names) one of your clients has named her baby?
Favorite city in the US other than Charlotte?
Carrie: Charleston, SC
Julie: Myrtle Beach, SC
Best place to vacation with children?
Carrie and Julie: Orlando, FL
Last thing you cooked for your family?
Carrie: Chicken Enchiladas
Julie: Omelets (Brinner)
Last book you read?
Carrie: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes – SO good!
Julie: Limitless Life-Derwin L. Gray
Carrie: Homemade chocolate chip cookie bars
Julie: Redi Whip straight from the can (shhhh)
Best parenting advice you ever received?
Carrie: Praise in public, counsel in private.
Julie: God first, then spouse, then kids.
Family’s favorite fall tradition or activity?
Carrie: We love to go to the pumpkin patch and on the hayride at Anne Springs Farm. Our girls have so much fun picking out their pumpkins, carving them, and preparing for Halloween!
Julie: Carve pumpkins and take turns pulling out the icky goo from inside.
Humor us…what old wives tales about labor seem to be true? For example, does the full moon really bring on labor? Does eating spicy food help? Don’t worry, we won’t hold you to the info – just wondered if you’ve noticed any “trends” :-).
Carrie & Julie: Supposedly, the Labor and Delivery floors are usually full when there’s a full moon and/or heavy rain/storm. Spicy food and fresh pineapple (who would have known?!?!) can both help women go into labor as well as sex, of course. The truth is, there are many old wives tales about what can bring on labor. If baby is ready, they work, if baby is not ready, they don’t. Best advice we can give: let baby decide.