My name is Stephanie Stear and I am the owner and service provider for Living Lovely Birth Services, LLC.
My Personal Birth History:
I birthed my first child (a boy) in 2002 at the age of nineteen. A lack of education and life experience led to a drug-free but fairly traumatic birth. I had a miscarriage in the summer of 2003 and then gave birth to my second child (a girl) in the summer of 2004. The birth was actively managed by hospital staff (including induction, antibiotics, an epidural, artificial breaking of my waters, and an episiotomy). Despite the multitude of medical interventions, the birth was relatively peaceful and lovely. In the following 6 years, I gave birth to two surrogate babies for a family friend. I had two miscarriages in the process. The first surrogate baby was born naturally in a hospital setting. The parents of the baby had a difficult time watching natural pain management and asked me to get an epidural for the birth of the second surrogate baby. I complied with their request and received an epidural when I was at approximately 8-9 centimeters dilated. Both surrogate births were beautiful and rewarding. The trauma of my first birth, the experiences during my other births, and the three miscarriages have all contributed to my passion for the study of pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and the postpartum time period.
My Personal Birth Philosophy
I believe that God created the female body with childbirth in mind. I believe that a tremendous majority of women have the ability to birth their children naturally, peacefully, and in their own strength. I believe that all women have the right to be educated in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery. I believe that all women have the right to loving, evidence-based, personal care from their medical providers, friends, and family during these times. I believe that all women have the right to choose whether or not to undergo medical interventions such as inductions, pain-relief drugs, artificial breaking of the waters, vaginal exams, weight tracking, and episiotomies. I believe that no woman should be judged, reprimanded, or denied care because of her birthing decisions.
My Role as a Birth Doula
As a birth doula, my primary responsibility is to educate and empower women to make their own choices regarding their birth experiences and to physically and emotionally support them through the realization of those choices. Regardless of my personal birth philosophy, my desire is for every woman to make the decisions that are best for herself and her family. I work with families during the last several weeks of pregnancy to form a birth plan, choose a provider (if this hasn’t been done already), and prepare for the big day. When labor begins and the mother calls for me, I arrive at the mother’s home and I attend to her physical, emotional, and sometimes spiritual needs through the entire labor process. I do not leave the mother’s side. Once the baby is born, I will remain with the family for a couple of hours to take photos and/or video, provide instruction in infant care (if needed), and provide education and assistance for the first feeding. I will then stop by the family’s home a few days later to check in and see how things are going, providing assistance and information if necessary.
My Role as a PostPartum Doula
Postpartum Doula services can be an extension of Birth Doula services, but this is not always necessary. Many times, a woman feels very supported by family and medical care providers during childbirth, but she feels that she could use some extra help after the baby arrives. As a postpartum doula, my role is to provide emotional, physical, and sometimes spiritual support to new parents. This can take on many forms. My job is to assess what the primary needs might be and to fulfill them. If mom needs time for a shower and a nap, I provide that time by caring for the baby and other children. If mom is busily caring for her new little one (and sometimes several other little ones), I will help with cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, etc. in order to lighten her load. I will also provide education and assistance with some of the tasks that new moms find intimidating: trimming the fingernails and toenails, bathing the baby, caring for the umbilical cord area and/or circumcision wounds (if needed), sleep problems, breastfeeding problems, etc.