A positive birth experience starts with knowing your options and being empowered by knowledge. René Johnson has been a steady source of this empowerment for over 30 years to thousands of families in the Baton Rouge area.
The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves". Today’s definition has expanded to include “a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period (DONA International).”
That’s what I am, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. As a young girl, I became fascinated with pregnant women and childbirth. Later, as an educator, I taught elementary school full-time, but felt pulled toward working with pregnant women.
Fast forward through time and today I’m regularly invited to witness one of the most intimate, life-changing events in any family. For a few hours, or a few days, I share their vulnerabilities, their fears, and desires as they work to complete something incredibly difficult and beautiful. And I’m blessed to say that I’ve worked as a doula for over 30 years, which means I’ve helped “birth” babies who are now my clients having babies of their own.
The quality of emotional care and support women receive during labor and birth is vital to the emotional ties and connections made with both the mother and her support team to baby after birth. Because every case is unique, I help navigate discussions and decisions around setting up the right environment, positions for comfortable labor, rest and care for mother and partner based on resources, information and experience.
Childbirth impacts a woman for the remainder of her life. Therefore, how she’s treated and cared for before and during labor is crucial, and part of my role is to be a loving presence during the entire process. Doula support has been referred to as “mothering the mother”.
When I leave a birth, it’s often after being awake for 24 or 30 hours. But there is an indescribable, lasting impact my presence makes on a family, and it's always worth the time investment.
Just how dedicated am I to my work? Put it this way: if Plan A involves fun, then having a Plan B is inevitable; it’s what could happen if a client goes into labor. But catch me on my free time, and you’ll find me enjoying time with family or Tessa, my Sheltie. Or, I might be sitting down for a long dinner with friends, reading a good book, trying new healthy recipes, or catching up on my favorite HGTV shows.
I also have 3 fun-loving grandchildren – all boys – and I love this season of parenting that doesn’t come with its daily responsibilities. Together, we go on nature walks, throw pennies in fountains, read, and play games together.
Being a doula is what I’m meant to do in this lifetime. Someone once asked me, “What do you get from being a doula?” It’s simple. I'm invited to witness miracles. And I enjoy every minute of it.
What about you? What are you birth planning goals and expectations? If you’re considering engaging a doula, contact me to set up an in-person or phone consultation.
“I’ve been fortunate to witness incredible changes for birthing women in Baton Rouge over the years,
and I look forward to helping more families create their best birth.”