This week’s Mom Boss is Kelsey Reilly of Raleigh, NC. When I met her, she was the volunteer facilitator of a 10-week mom of newborns support group I was a part of. (Did I mention Mom Bosses tend to volunteer their time to organizations they are passionate about?) During those 10 weeks, she helped me and our group of moms feel comfortable in our new roles as mothers and facilitated an amazing learning (and much needed social) experience for all of us. During our first meeting she told us she had her own Doula business. I had heard of a Doula, but I hadn’t done much research on what services a Doula provided. If I had, I probably would have hired one, because every mom and her family deserves the nurturing support, care, and resources that a Doula can provide.
In the interview that follows, I ask Kelsey to share more with us about the role of a Doula, her personal experiences, and of course advice on motherhood and how to find a Doula that’s right for you.
Natalie: How would you explain the role of a Doula?
Kelsey: “A doula is someone who is professionally trained in assisting women and their families during childbirth, caring for their newborn, and postpartum health. Ultimately, we provide support, education, and care for a mother and family in the weeks and months following childbirth, but it doesn’t stop there. On paper that might be the most succinct way to explain it, but in reality, we reduce fear and empower women to recognize their own strength, which can manifest in many different ways.”
Natalie: What inspired you to become a Doula?
Kesley: “Have you ever not been able to do something and the only way to get it done was to learn how to do it yourself? I got inspired to be a doula kind of like that. I had my daughter and while I wasn’t completely incompetent, if she were a difficult baby in the slightest, I don’t know what I would’ve done. During the most isolating time of my stay-at-home-motherhood, I sought resources that would help get me through some of the things Google just isn’t good for. I found a program that showed me how to empower other moms and families, and started volunteering through it. Through that, I met a Doula agency owner, and she pointed me to a training and explained what it would be — which made me realize that’s what I needed and wanted for all of these families I was now supporting through volunteering. I just needed to figure out how to make a career out of it…so here I am!”
Natalie: What is your philosophy as a Doula?
Kelsey: “Goodness. I guess I can sum it up as “I’m just here to help you do you.” What I mean by that is, it’s not about me. I can tell you all the information you need to know about “best practices” or AAP recommendations, but at the end of the day, if you need someone to tell you it’s ok not to breastfeed if you don’t want to, or help distract you from some extra crying, I’m there. My philosophy really comes down to helping mothers and families not second-guess themselves by providing a judgement-free zone, 100% of the time.”
Natalie: New mothers often find themselves overwhelmed with taking care of their child and tend to neglect making time to take care of themselves, aka, practice self-care. What is your favorite way to practice self-care?
Kelsey: “To explain my favorite way to practice self-care, you first have to know that I needed to be convinced I deserved it. Self-care manifests in a variety of ways, but when it comes to parenting, it’s a whole different ballgame. If I want to be the best parent I can be, I know that I need a break, so even something as simple as watching my own shows uninterrupted feels like self-care to me. But to get more specific, I love a good mani/pedi. I find myself on my feet and using my hands a lot, so never underestimate the power of a good hand/foot massage. I feel so refreshed coming out of my hour and a half of pampering that not much can ruin my day after that. My secret is to find a place that offers a complimentary glass of wine to really up your self-care game.”
Natalie: How do you find the Doula that’s right for you?
Kelsey: “There’s a lot to say about the vibe you get from meeting a Doula. We recognize that not everyone jives together and that’s ok. Our job isn’t to just prove to you that we’re competent, but that we feel what’s in your heart and can help that vision come to fruition. In your interviews with a Doula, ask questions about what that looks like, and have an idea of what your ideal answer would be. I recently wrote a detailed blog post about how to find the Doula that’s right for you, so you can read more about that here.”
Natalie: What do you think is the toughest part of being a new mother?
Kelsey: “Without answering for the millions of other mothers out there, the toughest part for me was the “zero to sixty” without a solid support system. I don’t have any family in town and none of my friends were having babies, so navigating that on my own was hard, and throw the whole 24/7 dependency into the mix?? No one can really prepare you for what that’s like, what your expectations “should” be, or how to deal with that disappointment when those expectations aren’t met. Luckily I found the resources I needed to come out on the other side and can hopefully provide the same for other mothers, first time or fifth, who may be lacking that as well.”
Natalie: How have you found balance between your full-time job as a mother and being an entrepreneur and starting your own business?
Kelsey: “That’s a great question! Honestly, that comes from trial and error. There are times where I haven’t seen my daughter for a few days because of when I have to be up for work and when she goes down for bed, or several days in a row where I’m not working and am her primary caretaker. I have re-prioritized my down time and some days I get one less hour of sleep than I would like, but when it comes down to it, I think I’m finding that balance with a lot of patience and a few reality checks along the way. Sometimes I’ll look down at my daughter and just stare because she’s my inspiration. She’s the reason I’m doing what I’m doing and why I’m doing it well, and that makes it easier to stop and smell the roses, or to get back to the grind of adulting.”
Natalie: What is a favorite Doula tip you can share with other #MomBosses?
Kelsey: “Healthy mom = Healthy baby. Don’t forget to take care of your own needs so that you can take care of your baby’s needs. A mom who is too tired or too hungry can’t be expected to be at 100%, so if you need help, or a little bit of extra self-care, now you can ask for it guilt-free.”
If you want to find out more about Kelsey’s Doula services or wish to contact her, visit her website (https://www.oakcitydoulacare.com/) or look up @oakcitydoulacare on Facebook.