In 2021, we’re profiling DTI doulas who are shaping the world through birth work, doula work and reproductive health advocacy.
What does it mean to live and work as a doula day-in and day-out?
Today, we’re featuring Sara Sheehan (she/her/they/them)—a DTI-trained, birth and postpartum doula based in Denver Colorado.
“I’ve always had a strong belief in the importance of empathy and compassion. The journey to becoming a doula has been the most beautiful way of deepening that practice.
I started as a doula in 2017 in Texas, and since moving to Denver in 2019, my love for birthwork has only grown. It’s my goal to bring support to communities and families who are building something new and exciting but seek the necessary support to make that transition smoothly.
I support my clients the most by holding space for their experiences, offering access to my ever-growing library of resources for new parents, and physically working with them to make their home a safe and comfortable place to grow in.”
1.) What brought you to doula work?
I realized at some point in undergrad that what I was doing for a living was not fulfilling, sustainable, or really utilizing my skills as an empathetic queer person to support my community.
I found doulaing through a friend of mine, and after some networking joined a program called Giving Austin Labor Support, where I provided on-call labor support to low-income families, or birthing people in need of support. I obviously fell in love right away, and have been pursuing my interest in supporting queer families ever since.
2.) What are you working on within your doula practice right now?
Today I work in Denver, CO with an amazing doula collective called Braving Doula Collective, that aims to intentionally lift up queer family’s using Brené Brown’s “BRAVE” model. I also work privately under the name Home Grown Doula Care.
3.) What’s in your doula support bag?
I try to keep my doula bag simple. I have a few massage tools, a comb, some lavender essential, and some battery powered twinkle lights, and a mirror for seeing baby crowning. Most of what I bring to a birth or postpartum session is to make sure that I can continue caring for my clients as my best self– Fresh clothes, toiletries, gum, snacks, and my water bottle. For birth’s I make sure to bring a few things that clients may forget like chapstick and tissues. I always bring at least one book along that I think may come in handy.
4.) What’s your favorite doula book?
Funnily enough, my favorite books that helped me to be a better doula are not actually “doula” books. In particular, Brené Brown’s “Rising Strong” is one that I cite often as a book that entirely changed and formed my perspective on empathy, abuse, and trauma. I also relearned what it means to hold space for people through Brown’s writing. Which, as we all know, is a priceless skill for doulas.
As far as targeted audiences go, I’m a huge fan of “Why Did No One Tell Me This, The Doulas (Honest) Guide for Expecting Parents” by Natalia Hailes and Ash Spivak. It’s fantastic, intersectional and intentionally uses inclusive language.
5.) Describe your doula journey in three words.
Grounding, challenging, empowering.
6.) What’s one thing you’d like to say to new doulas?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you are worth less, because you’re new or because you may have never had children. Neither of those things affects your ability to be an empathetic human, or your drive to educate and empower your clients.
7.) Any words you live by when providing doula support?
Birth is for anyone who chooses it, and consent begins with having all of the information that you desire.
8.) What’s one interesting thing you’ve learned about the human body, thanks to doula work?
That anyone, regardless of assigned sex at birth, can potentially stimulate lactation.
9.) Your favorite tip for new parents?
Forget being terrified of clipping your new baby’s super sharp nails, just get a baby nail file.
10.) Your one wish for the birth world / reproductive health world at-large?
For birth to no longer be associated with avoidable emotional trauma & PTSD.