Doula and childbirth educator Nancy Rae calls herself a birth junkie. Find out how this experienced doula — who was present at the birth of all of her grandchildren — began a lifelong journey assisting women with childbirth.
Childbirth educator and doula Nancy Rae, CD (DONA), ICEA, has been present at over 400 births, including all seven of her grandchildren. Nancy has been teaching childbirth education classes for over 23 years. Find out how birth became a huge part of her life and career.
Discovering the joy of birth
As a young woman, Nancy Rae knew she wanted children. She loved to nurture others, and spent time babysitting before pursuing a career in Early Childhood Education. “My original plan was 10 babies,” she says. At 24, Nancy had her first of three daughters. “When I pushed my daughter into the world I was introduced to my own power and strength. I no longer thought of myself as weak. I felt like the Incredible Hulk,” she says. “I couldn’t wait to do it again. Birthing is hard, painful, sweaty and very challenging — but so worth the effort and learning.”
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Becoming a doula
“I don’t know if people become doulas,” says Nancy. “I think we simply are doulas.” When a good friend and fellow teacher asked Nancy to stay during her 27-hour labor, Nancy knew she had found her calling.
She began training to teach childbirth education classes and had the opportunity to attend births. She attended over 40 births before finding out what a doula was. “As soon as I found out that it was a real profession, I located a training program and attended,” she says. “I wanted all women to have the positive experience that I had and through teaching classes and working as a doula I found a way to help women learn what I learned through birth.”
Helping her daughters give birth
Nancy has attended seven of her grandkids’ births, four in a hospital and three at home. The only labor she was not present for was her first grandson, who was stillborn at 20 weeks. When her youngest grandson was born last year, he arrived unexpectedly at 37 weeks. In the rush of things, Nancy’s son-in-law forgot to put the plug into the bottom of the birthing pool. ”All of the water had run out and flooded the entire kitchen and was heading for the carpet in the livingroom,” says Nancy, who managed to clean things up in time to be present for the birth. Her fifth grandson was the most difficult labor, she says. “It was the only time I had to leave the room for a good cry. It is very difficult to watch your own child work through such intense pain and feel like you can’t help.”
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Guiding moms on a journey
Nancy has attended births for mothers from the age of 12 to the age of 46. Over the years, she’s worked with incarcerated teen moms, adoptions, surrogates, moms of twins and many types of families. “Being with women when they labor and give birth is my passion in life. I want so much for them to have a positive empowering experience,” Nancy says. “It can heal wounds of abuse, it can bring joy after disappointments, it can introduce women to their own strength — something every woman needs to work their way through the long years of mothering. It is the first day of the most amazing journey a person can make. Their world is changed forever. What a special gift to be present and help them.”