Today we’d like to introduce you to Taylor Davis.
Taylor, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, doula trainer with Doula Trainings International, ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) leader, and birth rights activist.
When I was 8 months pregnant with my first child, I learned that he would most likely need to be born via cesarean section because he was breech. For somebody who was hoping for an unmedicated birth, this was disappointing. I had hired a doula for this birth, and was disappointed to learn that she would not attend a planned cesarean.
Immediately after my son was born, he was whisked away from me and my husband followed him. I was left alone in the OR, and then in recovery and didn’t have a chance to hold him until 3.5 hours after his birth. During his first year, I had a really hard time coping with the reality of having had a challenging birth experience. I felt sad that my doula didn’t come support me because I could have used somebody there with me. And I felt conflicted because everyone was telling me I should just be glad that my baby and I were healthy, but I still needed space to grieve my experience. I also really struggled to bond with him at the beginning.
16 months later I was pregnant with my 2nd and were living in a new state and I had quit my job as a teacher because I had learned that my first deeply needed me to be with him every day. I was determined to do everything I could to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). I found a local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapter the support I received there was incredible. I went on to have an unmedicated hospital VBAC with him and shortly after I became one of the leaders of that ICAN chapter. It was the culmination of these experiences that led me wanting to support others families navigating birth and the postpartum time period.
I knew that my next step was to become a doula. At this point, I’d been doing volunteer work to this effect by leading the ICAN chapter and I’d also become involved in the Birth Network, advocating for respectful and humane birth for all people. I began my doula training with Doula Trainings International and the rest is history! I’ve been actively supporting families during birth and postpartum since then.
In 2014, my family moved to the Seacost of NH. I learned that there was no ICAN chapter here so the first thing I did was create one. Our chapter is thriving now and we have monthly support meetings to meet the needs of people recovering from cesarean and birthing again after cesarean. I also learned when I got here that our local hospital was not actively supporting people who wanted to have VBACs, and I worked hard with other activists to lobby for this to be changed. I have also become a childbirth educator and a doula trainer since then. I lead online trainings with Doula Trainings International as well as in person trainings, one of which will be in Concord, NH in September.
This work is my heart’s work. I firmly believe that every family should have access to evidence-based information about birth and that the birthing person has the right to make the decisions about their birth experience. I work hard to help people access this information and to advocate for autonomous decision-making. I’ve also become increasingly interested in the incredibly disparity in birth outcomes for white birthing parents and birthing parents of color and am currently immersed in learning about all the factors at play there. All people, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, gender, gender or sexual identity should have equal access to excellent care when it comes to reproduction.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I am incredibly grateful because I’ve had so much support on my journey. My husband has been my biggest supporter from the moment I mentioned to him that I wanted to do this work. He has always been willing to make sure our family life and his work life can support my work.
The biggest challenge has been balancing work and family life, as I’m sure many parents can identify with. We now have 3 children (they are 8.5, 6.5 and 2) who we homeschool. So the amount of time I can work and the number of responsibilities I can take on in my work are constantly changing over time. Being on call for people who are about to go into labor can be taxing on the entire family. I am always checking in with myself to be sure I’m giving my family and my work what I think each need. And, of course, I try to make sure I’m taking good care of myself as well.
As far as the actual work, it can be very challenging to become aware of and to witness the human rights violations that occur every day when families are giving birth. I’ve witnessed mistreatment and even abuse in the delivery room. As a doula, I need to work hard to care for myself as I experience this, and also to recognize that I have a responsibility to address this and work towards change. Challenging old ways of thinking about what doulas do and owning my responsibility as an advocate, and not just a birth partner, has taken courage and hasn’t always been easy. I’ve been lucky to meet some incredibly kind and supportive care providers here on the Seacoast, some who practice in hospitals and some who attend home births. But there’s always more work to be done.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Taylor Davis Doula Services – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My business is essentially me! That said, I’m especially proud of the relationships that I continue to build in my work. As we say in Doula Trainings International, doulas need doulas to thrive. As in any profession, some people approach the work with a competitive edge and are hesitant to collaborate with others doing the same work. I have reached a point in my career where I know this is a mistake. My ultimate goal is to support families to have healthy and positive birth and postpartum experiences, and I can best do this when I collaborate with others doing this work.
I would guess that, in my community, I’m known for my activism. My paid work is attending births, teaching childbirth education, and training new doulas. But the rest of my time spent is through my work with ICAN and my other birth rights activism. One of my deepest passions is improving VBAC access for families as the research shows VABC to be a safe and reasonable option for most people. Avoiding multiple cesareans has health benefits and I want people to have the information. Often, people who’ve had a cesarean are simply told by their care providers that once they’ve had a cesarean, the rest of their births have to be the same. There’s a long history that explains why that misinformation is spread, and I continue to work hard to shed light on the facts and support families’ rights to making informed decisions about their births.
Nothing brings me more joy than to rally people together to continue to fight for better and more humane birth. It’s a collective effort and we need everyone’s voices and gifts. Last year, I co-organized a production of “Birth: The Play” in Portsmouth. We performed Karen Brody’s play which tells the story of birth in America in an attempt to raise awareness about the state of birth today. In addition, the endeavor was a fundraiser for Hope on Haven Hill, a local residential facility that provides comprehensive treatment for substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders to pregnant and parenting women. I believe that bringing the community aspect back to birth and parenting is crucial in nurturing healthy and happy families.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I have recently begun to expand my work into parenting support as well. My husband and I have a peaceful parenting podcast called One Free Family and I dream of offering local support groups for parents to help them on the journey to parenting peacefully and respectfully.
I’ve also recently become aware of the lack of support that most people have when experiencing miscarriages and am brainstorming with another colleague about how to meet this need in our community.
- Website: www.taylordavisdoula.com and www.wearedti.com and www.onefreefamily.com
- Phone: (973)-868-2353
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: taylordavisdoula
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaylorDavisDoula/
Most images are my own, except for the one uploaded as the personal photo. That one is Outdoor Family Photography, Sabrina Norrie.