Featured doula: Gwen Alderks
Located in Kenosha, Wisconsin
Serving: Kenosha and Racine counties, Milwaukee area (as far north as Glendale) and southeastern Wisconsin suburbs as well as northern Illinois as far south as Highland Park, Illinois
1. What inspired Gwen to begin her doula journey? Gwen became interested in pregnancy and birth during her high school years when her own registered nurse mother taught childbirth education in the basement of her home and went on to “doula” a few young, unwed friends. After completing her college undergrad, Gwen was privileged to attend medical school for 2 years, where she graduated with a B.S. degree in medical illustration (surgical illustration and photography). Journeying through her own 8 pregnancies and births, Gwen became all too familiar with the need for an advocate in the birth room.
2. What training/experience does Gwen have?
Gwen is DONA-trained as well as Madriella-doula trained and a Southwest Technical College certified doula. She has 6 years experience as a doula and has supported more than 70 births.
3.What is your purpose/mission/style as a doula?
I love to be an encourager! I think of myself as a cheerleader. I tell my clients that I'm their boost of confidence in the corner of the room, even if I were to not speak a word or lay a hand on them, and that they have everything they need already for a positive birth experience (assuming they have had some topnotch childbirth education). My style is to ask lots of questions about how the client has gotten through a previous birth, physical trauma, marathon, or other great exertion so I know some history about how she tends to cope with pain. Some women thrive from positive words alone. Others need to be touched or massaged throughout the entire labor process. A huge factor in my mission is being mindful of including dads in as much as they want to be included and making sure they are taken care of as well as the laboring mom.
4.What makes you unique as a doula?
My experience of giving birth 8 times and (still in the process) home educating all of my children is a bit unique. I also offer placenta encapsulation to my clients. I offer aromatherapy in the form of diffusing essential oils at the place of birth. Since I am an "older" woman I feel I am privileged with being looked upon to be that nurturing motherly advocate in a client's birth as opposed to being someone's sister or girlfriend.
5. A doula MUST:
leave all her own personal anxieties, worries, concerns, and past personal birth experiences outside the doors of a woman/couple in labor. Each birth has it's own flavor. I am still learning the art of this but feel my client deserves only the BEST of me! When I get the call to join a couple at their birth I immediately eat some protein and drink loads of water while prepping to leave. I pray while on my way to each birth and pump myself up with my own bit of positive affirmation if necessary so when I walk into the birth space I am calm yet energized for whatever twists and turns the birth will surely take.
6.What advice would you give someone looking to hire doula?
Google "questions to ask a prospective doula" and print out a few different versions. Experienced doulas will let the inquiring woman/couple lead the way with opening questions but if she/they are at a loss I begin by asking about any previous birth experiences, what type of birth they desire with this pregnancy and what they can expect from me once hired. No questions are too small or too big. I tell couples they will know when they have found the right doula because it will feel natural to open up and talk with her.