Workshop Presenter: Emily Wannenburg CNM (retired) DONA
What is your Name, title and role in the birth community?
Emily Wannenburg, Founder of 4th Trimester Fitness® Method (4tfit.com) and Memmy’s Mommas™ Birth Services. I teach Prenatal Classes and Postpartum Recovery® Fitness classes and our company licenses instructors to do the same. I continue to accept a limited number of Birth Doula Clients.
Why did you get into the field of birth?
My love of all things to do with pregnancy and birth began as a young girl and sparked when I met a missionary midwife in Pakistan. I knew then, at the age of 13, that this would be my life’s work. I went to Nursing school specifically to go to Midwifery school afterwards! I was an athlete and it was a natural pathway to combine my two passions of fitness and birth.
Currently, what topic in birth are you most fascinated by?
I am always a student of the elements which bring for a calm, peaceful birthing experience. However, of late, I am impressed by the mindset of the parties involved in the birthing person’s life (from care provider to birth partner to family members) and how that influences her emotional and psychological outcome regardless of the physical outcome.
Currently, what issue in birth are you most concerned with?
I am most impressed by the importance of molding together the sweet desire of The Dream Birth and what is actually the Reality of The Birth. I hear about and see, time and again, a disappointment in what was a desired experience compared to what actually happened. I am not talking about the “just be happy because you had a healthy baby” outcome but rather, the whole-person experience and how to navigate that in the aftermath of a birth that was The Dream Birth.
Why is having peace in birth so important?
Peace in birth affects the perspective and the trajectory of every birth afterward. For me, this doesn’t necessarily mean a quiet room with curtains drawn and little movement – though I love a birthing sanctuary like that. Peace means that the family isn’t in the “emergency room” of their brains. They are not in the Fright -Flight -Freeze part of their being. This may sound crazy but even in chaos there can be a sense of peace and calmness. As a doula, I believe that a large part of my job is to help navigate the waters of labor and birth…Even, no – perhaps especially, when the waters are rough. Providing the information and education that the family needs in order to self – advocate, gives them control. Control, understanding, and compassion gives peace. To know that even in the craziest of circumstances a family was given time and space to make choices that they know are the right ones. This gives the family peace in the long run after a birth.
What books or resources has inspired you lately?
Funny enough, reading No Drama Discipline in response to helping my toddler grand-daughter navigate those big toddler feelings has impacted the way I interact with all people…particularly the birth family. The concept of connecting first, so that you can redirect emotions is such an important concept. We know how language and vocabulary is vital when communicating with others and I have felt impressed to be more mindful of how I communicate in general.
What sparked your interest to speak at the Birth Works Conference this year?
Conferences are always so interesting and as a life-long learner, a conference is full of fascinating people and topics. I was pleased to be asked to share on the use of Birth Balls and Peanut Balls, one of my favorite topics, so that is always great fun.
What can attendees expect to hear about while attending your session(s)?
My hope is that by sharing the evidence and skills to use both the birth ball and peanut ball in pregnancy, labor and birth the attendings will leave with tools that they can use for their benefit. The tips and tactics to help progress their labors and strategies to relieve the discomforts of labor…Plus, those balls are just fun!
If you were given the power to change only one aspect of birth in American culture today… what would it be?
Freedom to eat and drink and move in labor. A more hands-off approach. Bringing Birth Center care in to the L and D’s.
What is a funny or inspiring quote you’ve heard from one of your clients?
Oh! I actually keep a list of the funny things! There are so many but here are some of my favorite quotes or text messages that I have received from clients!!…
“And FYI… Breast implants do not prevent post baby boob sag. I used to be like (•)(•) Now I’m like (.)(.)” – Breast Feeding Momma
“She just had one contraction! Should I start filling the tub?” – Excited first-time Dad
“It’s clear to me that I need a C section!!” – Momma stated clearly to the room as she crowned her baby
“Whoa! What do you think this is? A speedway??!” As the nurse oh-so-gently-and-slowly rolled the crowning momma in to the L and D.
“I had one drop of milk leaking from my breast! It was pretty exciting!” – New momma on day 4
“What if I do some jumping jacks or something? You know…Jump him out 🙂 ” – serious question by 41/5 mother
“I’ve been waiting my whole life to hire you” – Sweetest Doula Client Ever.
“If God can part the Red Sea then He can part my Vagina!” – 7cm laboring Momma
I have been saving for 23 months to hire you for the next birth. – Doula Client at our first appointment
“I think I’m addicted to stool softeners” – PP momma
“Down and Out! Dowwwwnnnnn annnnndddd Ouuttttttt!” shouted by a pushing mother and heard all the way down the L and D. Several Nurses popped their heads in to see if everything was okay
finish this phrase: birth is… Transformative!