by Kayla Tschumper
It is with great joy that I reflect on my journey to God’s calling on my life: that of birth work, specifically as a Childbirth Doula. I’ve always held an intrinsic curiosity about childbirth, but for a long time I thought it was just because I loved babies–the miracle of precious and adorable life. With maturity came the realization, though, that I had great fascination with the human experience of childbearing and birth. The miracle of nourishing a child in the womb, as well as the profound life event of childbirth, fascinated me.
When I was pregnant with my first child I fervently studied all that I could about childbirth: I read hundreds of birth stories, asked questions incessantly to experienced mothers around me, and studied material published by highly respected midwives. My combination of self-education, personal belief in the childbirth process as God designed it to be, and unwavering support from my husband (who also is a Registered Nurse) led me to the empowering natural birth of my first child, a life experience that I will always remember with pride and joy.
Many women around me were also navigating their own journeys to childbirth around this time. While joy was certainly relayed in most of their stories, I simultaneously couldn’t ignore how often descriptors of trauma, confusion, and disappointment marked their experiences (and these were all otherwise “normal” birth experiences with healthy babies). It took me several years–years where I was focused on growing my own family and working within the general healthcare system as a nurse–to piece together what was happening within our culture, specifically as it relates to childbirth. While the details of all that I observed and learned deserve a blog post of their own, I concluded this: events in our country’s birth-related history stripped wisdom, understanding, acceptance, and cultural support out of the birth process. Our generalized disconnection from the intricacies of childbirth are a result of decisions of prior generations. My personal experience inclined me to believe that educated, consistent support could bring this wisdom and connection back, though, equipping mothers and fathers to participate in their journey with confidence.
The next steps on my journey to birth work were a manifestation of God’s perfect timing. I had recently started staying at home full-time with my children. A close friend knew of my enthusiasm surrounding childbirth and asked if I would support her in her upcoming labor and delivery. She found herself wrestling with feelings of anger and fear as a result of her first birth experience, and desired support to achieve an empowering childbirth with this pregnancy. I eagerly accepted.
We worked together to gain education about physiologic childbirth, practiced pain management skills, and solidified her birth preferences. When it came time to support my friend in labor, she exuded peace, confidence, and she even expressed, “I’m joyful between contractions! This is so different from the first time!” I provided continuous labor support for her and her spouse, and witnessed her deliver a healthy baby girl!
My desire to support women and their families on their journeys to childbirth grew immensely as a result of this experience. I pursued official Doula training and certification, and I continue to enjoy every part of educating and serving expectant families. The literal translation of the title “doula” is “woman who serves.” It is my greatest joy to reconnect women to the intrinsic wisdom they carry about how to deliver their babies, and to see fear and uncertainty dwindle as a result.
I look upon my future within this work with eager expectation. I envision numerous families joyously welcoming children into their arms, and starting their postpartum journey unified and equipped. I also desire to see a huge growth in the number of women supporting other women in childbirth. Long ago, childbirth was simply within culture, not separated behind closed doors. As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’s birth, I curiously wonder what the childbearing experience was like for young Mary. Yes, her physical location of birth was outside of convenience and comfort, but I doubt that the experience of laboring to deliver new life was culturally foreign. I won’t ever know how she was specifically supported by women in her culture, but I hope it was normal to surround her, appreciate her awe-inspiring delivery of new life, and equip her to adjust well to the demands of motherhood. I count it a great joy to bring these care qualities to the families I serve today, and I continually thank God for leading me to this lifework.
Kayla Tschumper and her family have been a part of Calvary for a little over a year and continue to be thankful God led them here! She enjoys serving in children’s ministry and connecting with other women in Renovare. Kayla describes herself as fulfilled when pursuing roles that create connection, and provide opportunities for both learning and teaching. This means that she is joyfully satisfied in the distinct roles God has for her in this season: Homeschool Mama within her family and Childbirth Doula in her community.