Hello Everyone! It's been a while since I posted anything and tis the season to make intentions and plans for the year to come. Below are 10 things about me, in no particular order.
1. I consider myself a New Yorker, even though I was born and raised in Toledo, Ohio. I moved to New York and honestly thought I'd be Carrie Bradshaw. I thought I would write a witty column for a hip magazine and that column would spin into a book deal and I would live out my days in expensive clothes drinking a lot of vodka. The truth is my first few years living in NYC I slept on an air mattress and actually left an apartment I couldn't afford. Like, literally just slipped the keys under the door and walked away. I still miss some of the clothes and furniture in that place.
2. I never imagined the life I currently live. The little black girl from Toledo, Ohio never dreamed she'd be a "Jewish famous" black, lesbian advocate for Jewish communities of color. I never dreamed folks would pay me to help their organizations be more accepting and inclusive and diverse. I never dreamed I'd be working to create the community I want to live in. I never dreamed I'd be able to witness the moment people become parents. I never dreamed I'd have chickens or grow my own food. I did know, sort of, that I would be an entrepreneur. My dad is, so I'd like to say it runs in the family.
3. I have an addiction to growing things. As I write this there are over 6 varieties of succulents perched on a table to my right, a massive money plant and monstera plant just a head of me, a bird of paradise to my left, two new plants on my stairs (bonus is today I realized I could put house plants on my stairs and they stay warm AND get indirect bright light all day - so obviously I'll need more plants) and behind me there are more plants than I can actually identify. Upstairs there are more plants and there are some in both of our two bathrooms as well as in our bedroom. AND I'm always looking for more plants. AND this doesn't count the 7 garden beds in our front yard and the garden bed in our back yard or the entire side yard I dug out on the anniversary of my sister's death to keep my hands, mind and body busy. If I had to guess I would say we have close to 100 (probably more) varieties of green things in and around our house. And I'm always looking for an excuse (and space) to buy more.
4.I'm hoping to deepen my Jewish study in the next year. If I had my way I would travel back to Israel to study at Pardes for the summer again. I'm also applying for a Jewish training program aimed at and for womyn that explores the Divine Feminine in Judaism. I'd love to learn to speak and read Hebrew and I always want to get back into Hebrew calligraphy. In the meantime, I'm working with friends in the Tacoma area to bring a vibrant, diverse and inclusive lay-led Shabbat experience (bi)monthly which has been incredibly nourishing for my soul.
5. I've been a doula for almost 6 years and I feel like I learn something new at every birth. As I approach my 40s it's becoming increasingly important for me to continue to grow and learn, but also to limit myself (so that I can better care for myself). In 2019 I'm hoping to take only 2 clients per month for birth and 2 clients per month for postpartum care. I think limiting my time will actually allow me to have more quality time with the families I serve.
6. I have a love/not hate relationship with Yoga. I became a certified yoga instructor almost three years ago and it was one of the most rewarding months of my life. I was sure I would be the largest body in the class. I was sure I would be the only person of color, let alone black person. I was sure that the "woo" of the American version of yoga would be too much for me to handle. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to be surrounded by 7 other black faces, 1 other POC face and while I was the largest body in the class, the other bodies weren't all slim. I got to deepen my relationship and understanding of the historical and spiritual truth that is yoga and since then I've been trying to suss out my place, my role in it all. It's still inaccessible to so many people. There are so few black and brown faces represented. I recently wrote about my thoughts on my personal blog so I'll stop for now.
7. I lead with my identities. When I was interviewed by NPR this summer I was asked about my self-identification as a black, lesbian, Jewish woman (doula) and I'm often asked this. The person who interviewed me is also a WOC so I didn't find her question off-putting, she gets that when a POC walks into the room assumptions are made. As a black person I cannot ever hide my blackness, nor would I want to. I can't hide the fact that I live in a "female body", though sometimes I wish I could hide that fact. Because of my skin color and assumptions and Christian hegemony I'm often thought to be Christian. Representation matters. Intersectionality matters. I cannot and would not drop one of my markers to make myself anything different from who I am. Whenever I am in a space my history, my experience as a black, lesbian Jewish woman frame my perspective.
8. I'm a writer. I've written for a variety of Jewish magazines and newspapers. I even got the opportunity to write commentary on Torah for a publication. I have a draft of a children's book I've been editing and re-editing (and re-writing) for a long time. I'd love to get to the place where I'm sitting in our house that's both in the mountains and by the sea just me, my wife and a computer to write on.
9. I like to try a lot of food, but I always go back to meat and potatoes. Hey, it's the midwestern girl in me!
10. I have a lot of hobbies. I'm always sewing and throwing pottery and journaling and brush lettering and water coloring and weaving and knitting and embroidering at any given time.
I've posted this article from the New York Times several times on my Facebook page and I keep posting it because it remains (and will always be) relevant. Many women and birthing people spend a lot of time and energy into planning for their births. Many more women and birthing people are surprised that the birthing part is easy compared to the postpartum part.
The postpartum period is hard. Nursing is hard. Sleep deprivation happens to everyone. None of these things can be prevented and there's no amount of planning to "solve" the many different adjustments the fourth trimester brings, but you can prepare.
Prepare now, not when baby is born, but now.
Have you hired a lactaction consultant?
Have you stocked your postpartum pantry with witch hazel and pads and sitz herbs?
Is your fridge stocked with food? Do you have a meal train?
Check out this article and then get to work prepping for the fourth trimester!
"And in May, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued new recommendations for postpartum care, including the suggestion that women develop a postpartum care plan during pregnancy. Women should have contact with a maternal care provider within the first three weeks after childbirth, the recommendations say, rather than waiting six weeks, and women with chronic medical conditions, including mood disorders, should be counseled about scheduling timely follow-up visits to address those illnesses ... But even so, many women — myself included — have felt unprepared for the physical trials of the postpartum period. With that in mind, I spoke with doctors, doulas, pelvic floor specialists and researchers to compile a short list of practical suggestions for women entering the first three months after childbirth, a momentous phase of a woman’s life that has often been eclipsed by the baby.
Read the rest on the NYT
Davis has been a doula for six years and says she’s helped more than 20 individuals and families give birth. A self-described “black, Jewish, dyke,” her training started in Brooklyn, New York where she realized she didn’t want to be a midwife. She decided instead to become a doula.
Doulas provide a wide range of pregnancy and childbirth support, which can include childbirth education, prenatal and postpartum care.
“I like to say a doula is from the waist up, and a midwife is from the belly button down,” Davis explains.
Though doulas are not medical professionals, some parents and moms are turning to midwives and doulas instead of traditional hospitals for more support during the birth process.
While Davis warns they’re not the magic wands to a perfect birth, she believes there’s a doula for everyone.
“If you want an Asian doula, there are Asian doulas,” Davis says. “If you want a free doula, there are tons of free doulas. If you want a trans person, there’s trans doulas. There’s literally a doula for everyone.”
Part of Davis’ appeal to clients is her intersectional identity as a black, gay, Jewish woman. She says she has shared the same experiences that queer parents face and recognizes the fears some women of color have about maternal health, which can make her clients feel safer.
Read the rest on NPR.
Big thanks to Esmy Jimenez for this feature
I remember the first time I needed to call a postpartum doula for a birth doula family I was working with. The new parent was a single mother and overwhelmed by a 2-3 day old baby who seemed to just want to cry. The mother's breasts were hot and engorged, making it difficult for her hungry screaming baby to latch on. Tears streamed down her face and she looked at me helplessly. I gave her a forced smile, picked up her wailing baby and lead her into her bathroom to draw a warm bath. As she soaked I soothed her baby and quickly text a postpartum doula and lactation consultant I worked with. She arrived just as I was helping the mother dry off. I watched as the postpartum doula expertly helped the mother express some breast milk to spoon feed the baby and got to work helping the new mother.
When I came for my second prenatal a few days later my client was a new person. She was confident, happy and nursing, though still difficultly. She'd already attended her first Le Leche League meeting and planned to go back. Her transformation was astounding and it was in that moment that I realized that my job as a birth doula was only one part of the journey. A Postpartum Doula is a necessary ally for all pregnant people and new parents in the 4th Trimester, the time after baby is born.
I never wanted to have that "holy shit, now what?!" moment again and decided to train at the Simkin Center at Bastyr University as a Postpartum Doula to help bridge the gap between pregnancy and parenthood.
Now that my training is complete and I'm working towards certification I want to empower all new parents to seek the care of a postpartum doula.
Your postpartum doula is not a nanny or babysitter, your postpartum doula is an extra set of helping hands for the entire family. The role of a postpartum doula is to help new parents navigate the transition from being pregnant to becoming parents to a new baby. A postpartum doula helps to reassure new parents in their decisions around feeding and sleep. A postpartum doula helps new parents understand their new baby better by teaching them how to speak to a tiny human that speaks a different language than the parent. A postpartum doula helps keep new parents organized and provides support with light household tasks like meal making and grocery shopping. A postpartum doula has your best interests in mind; making sure new parents are staying hydrated, eating, sleeping and is watchful for signs of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. A postpartum doula's role is to help new parents get their sea legs and to eventually leave when new parents are feeling more confident in their new role as parents.
I will be starting to take postpartum doula clients in September and would love to talk to you about ways in which I can support your new family.
Hello, everyone! I'd like to start this blog post with a commitment to do more blogging here. I've been working through the Shining Life Workbooks in the hopes of better dreaming and planning for a shift away from full-time nanny work to full time birth work and through the process have decided that I need to be 100% focused on content in this space. If you've been reading all along, thank you! If this is the first time you're reading this blog, welcome and I hope you find some content that you enjoy and find to be helpful. And now, on to the blog.
Q. When is the right time to hire a birth doula?
A. Right now!
In my opinion, it doesn't matter if you've just found out you're having a baby or if you're in your 38th week and have decided that, "Yes! OKAY! I do want another support person by my side at my birth!" Whenever you make that decision is the best time. There are definitely some benefits to hiring a birth doula early on in your pregnancy; you can take your time to find the right doula for you and your family, you can take time to craft a birth vision and be thoroughly educated on what to expect during pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum, and it allows you and your family to be completely comfortable with a person (your doula) who will be by your side at one of the most important days of your life.
On the other hand, a good doula is perfectly capable of providing you with consistent care and support if hired a week before or even the day of your birth. In fact, many hospitals are starting to hire doulas as staff and a lot of the time people may not have been introduced to the doula until the day of your birth.
If you have the time, I would add hiring a doula to your baby prep list. Just as you pencil in provider appointments, time to shop for your new wee human, etc.
If you live in the Seattle Metro area and are looking to hire a doula, I currently have availability for late May, June, and August births! Please call or email
Just a quick blog post to congratulate Beyonce and Jay Z and Blue Ivy on their upcoming additions!
It always feels great to get reviewed on my Birth Doula services! In the last month I've received two new reviews! You can check them out over on DoulaMatch or read them below!
I have openings for June and July Births so be sure to send me an email to schedule your consultation!
"Erika is one of those most competent, kind, emphatic and capable doulas I have ever met. She transformed every fear and anxiety we had into a reassuring, comforting thought to take with us into the birth. She visited with us in our home a couple times before the actual birth and always brought books, visuals and great stories. At the actual birth, she was unflappable and focused the entire time. I have no idea how but she never seemed to get tired or stressed! She was a great support for BOTH of us too - for my wife who was birthing our child and to myself as the birth partner. She was right there with us reminding us to drink water, eat a snack or take a break to breath. And she happily took photos at our request after our daughter was born. There is no one quite like Erika - her humor, her warmth, her energy are unlike any other doula out there. My wife and I both would recommend her without any reservations."
"Erika made me feel so supported and confident about my labor and birth. The birth plan she helped my partner and I craft, as well as discussions about what happens if things don't go according to plan, helped us make decisions easily during labor.
I would definitely hire her again and would recommend her services to anyone looking for an amazing birthing experience with a caring and competent doula."
The following snippet comes from a January 12th article about doulas from the Seattle Times. While I find some aspects of the piece problematic, particularly the assumption that doulas are women and that only women give birth, it does a great job at shedding a bit of light on the racial and ethnic disparities faced by people of color and the babies of those people.
"A week into my son’s life, he wouldn’t stop crying. I can still see his scarlet face and hear the alarm in his voice. Exhausted and new to motherhood, I was flummoxed and near panic myself.
Then my doula rang the bell. A no-nonsense woman, she swooped Malcolm up, whispered in his ear and massaged his little body. Identifying that he was hysterically hungry, she fed him a few fingers of formula — calming him down long enough to nurse.
She also asked me how I was doing and listened when I admitted: “Not great.” She was a lifeline in the chaos, and I still think of her with deep gratitude.
A person* is a woman who is trained to assist women during childbirth as well as in the pre- and postnatal period. It’s a tradition with roots around the world but a practice that has been resurrected in the U.S. as research increasingly shows doulas reduce C-section births and encourage successful breast-feeding."
Read the rest of the article here.
I'm the kind of doula who believes that every pregnant person deserves to have a doula at their birth.
I believe this because we live in a world where millions of people will be losing their health coverage soon. A world where clinics aimed at providing people with care, like Planned Parenthood, are being defunded by Congress. A world where maternal death rates for black women far exceed those of any other ethnic group. A world where LGBTQ people's families are discredited and people's gender identity can be denied.
I'm also a business woman who makes my living by assisting people in all aspects of their pregnancy. As I continue additional training and certification I do it with the realization that the more I am educated the better I will be able to assist pregnant people and their families.
Perhaps you've not read the recent Buzzfeed and subsequent NY Magazine articles about the business side of doula-ing, if you have and it left a bad taste in your mouth about who doulas are or who I am as a doula I hope you know that my goals are always centered around the families I serve, my family, and self care. It is this balance that drives me to continue my education and fuels my determination to make my doula services accessible for all families.
This means that I charge my full birth package price of $900 to my families providing payment options for those who need it. It also means that I have, and will continue, to provide birth doula services to families who cannot afford my full price. There is so much evidence out there that supports the necessity of doula work and I, personally, can't and won't let some very bad press change my passion and desire to provide this necessary service.
I am grateful to my strong circle of doula educators that have touched my life from the kick-ass group of Women of Color who trained me in Brooklyn to the dynamic instructors at Bastyr in Seattle.
If you're in the South Puget Sound and have questions or concerns about how a doula works, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and I'll do my best to answer your questions or point you to a birth professional with more experience.
I remember my first tough postpartum visit like it was yesterday even though it was three years ago. It was one of my first births and it went beautifully. The mother labored at home all day and when we arrived at the hospital she was 10 cm dilated! She pushed out her baby girl and had skin-to-skin right away. It all went according to plan.
So when I arrived to her apartment two days later I wasn't prepared for what I encountered. Her little one was wailing in her bassinet and the mama's face was streaked with her own tears.
"My breasts!" she exclaimed and threw open her shirt. They were large, bright red and painfully engorged. I wracked my new doula brain for what to do; we got her little one settled down and latched on, but it was at that moment that I realized that the entire birth process tends to be focused on labor and birth and not so much on the postpartum period.
We found that Mama an amazing Le Leche League Lactation Consultant and she nursed her Little One until she was almost 2. Since then I have been suggesting that all of my doula clients come up with a solid Postpartum Plan. These plans can include specific thing like rules for visiting the new family after the baby is born, a chores check lists guests can help with, and creating a meal train plan. I also encourage clients to create a list of resources including lactation consultants, postpartum doulas, new parent groups and more.
Your Postpartum Plan, like your Birth Plan, should be as specific and as personalized as possible. Think of everything you could need to make your transition into parenthood easier. Having a plan can take some of the surprise out of those first few weeks.
Hi there! I'm Erika Davis and I'm a doula working in the Seattle and South Puget Sound area.