This month’s featured childbirth educator is the lovely Danina Avery, CD, CBE (DTI), CLC, a birth and postpartum doula, lactation counselor, and childbirth educator offering services in Broward and Miami, FL. You can get in touch with her on Facebook @ Midsummer’s Eve Doula Services.
Tell us about your work (family life included) so far this year. How has your childbirth educator training influenced your path?
I was a birth and postpartum doula for more than two years when I decided to become a childbirth educator. My daughter was almost three years old and in school, so I had more time on my hands to dive into my birth work a little more. I’ve always loved teaching and I became a doula because I wanted to educate and inform people on how incredibly capable their bodies are. I wanted people to know they had options for birth and I wanted to show people that it’s possible to fall in love with your birth story. I think that through teaching, I’ve gained the ability to help others achieve a birth they don’t have to look back at and say it was the most painful and terrible day(s) of their lives. Healthy babies are everyone’s goal but they are not the ONLY thing that matters.
What would you say are the trends in birth education in your area?
Thankfully we have a lot of education about birth in our area but only if people search to find it. And then once they do, it depends on who is teaching it and whether they have to follow someone else’s guidelines or not. It’s hard to find birth education that is totally evidence-based and gives you ALL sides of the information, not just what is convenient.
Top 3 ways I connect with my students:
1. Have everyone introduce themselves and either remember their names or give them name tags
2. Call on students during the class and ask them what they think about or how they feel about a certain topic. (ex. What do you think would be considered a “big baby”.)
3. Go up to each student/couple after class and have a conversation about something you remember they mentioned during the class (ex. If they opened up about a fear or shared something powerful).
What’s special about the classes you teach? How do you set them apart?
I strive to present classes that are purely evidence-based. I do have feelings and opinions about how I believe is the best way for me to birth but I wouldn’t want to place those expectations on other people. My biggest drive is to make sure everyone knows they have tons of options, because I find that most maternity care here in south Florida isn’t based on informed consent. Once they are completely aware of all available choices, they can pick the birth path that is appropriate for them. I am there to help guide them in that direction. And if something unexpected happens and deviates them from their birth vision, I want them to be prepared with knowledge on those options as well so they feel less scared.
What prompted your decision to train as a childbirth educator?
I love teaching people. Knowledge is meant to be shared. When someone has important information, they should be a river, not a reservoir with that knowledge. The more people know the more confident they are in making decisions they will feel good about. It’s all about self-empowerment. With knowledge comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes freedom; I purely believe that applies to making decisions about your birth.
I am so grateful to have an incredibly supportive partner who encourages feminist views and is the reason why I’m able to get back up every time life kicks me down.
What do you love most about teaching?
When people walk away knowing more than they did before, no longer feeling afraid and overwhelmed but empowered in their abilities to make decisions.
Describe your classroom. What’s your favorite way to set up your space?
Everyone sits/stands/lies down in whatever way they are comfortable. They are free to roam and do whatever helps them focus on the lesson. I like to keep things simple and minimal, as to not overwhelm the students. I like to have snacks and give the students drawing material. The space is not too cold or too hot, and it is a relaxing, distraction-free atmosphere. I like to take breaks every once in a while and not only do written/talking lessons in form of a presentation. I prefer to make it conducive to conversational learning.
Tell us something about you that has nothing to do with birth!
I believe three things are of utmost importance in my life:
1. That I am constantly striving to be the best wife I can be. I know it’s easy to believe you should “put your child first” once you become a parent but we cannot forget that it was our relationship and bond that created that life to begin with. I love my child unconditionally but my husband comes first. And I am so grateful to have an incredibly supportive partner who encourages feminist views and is the reason why I’m able to get back up every time life kicks me down.
2. My biggest goal in my parenting journey is to teach my child to be kind, brave, honest, strong, loving, giving, to shatter all the glass ceilings that get in her way, to understand there is strength in vulnerability, and that she doesn’t always have to be alone; no one becomes successful on their own. But when she is, because sometimes we are, to look inward and gather strength from her inner self and constantly work on becoming the best person she can be. I want to teach her what a healthy, supportive, loving relationship looks like so that when/if she finds a partner for life, she has been shown a good blueprint.
3. Health (physical, emotional, and mental) is also a high priority. Feeding your body food that makes you feel good and healthy and nourishes your spirit is important. Exercising, as an athlete, is a must. It’s a great way to show my body that I love and treasure it. I want to find my physical strength and push myself to limits I was never really sure I could achieve. My husband is an incredible work-out partner and I appreciate that our views on health are on the same page. The last and often-forgotten one is personal growth. It is imperative that we are constantly pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones and encouraging our brains to be open to new ideas.