My Birth Heroines

Birth Activist is a blog that is hosting a blog carnival in celebration of Women’s History Month.  We have been asked to blog about a woman who has inspired us in the realm of pregnancy and childbirth.  Our birth heroine.  The title of this is Famous Women, and while I can say that I am inspired by many famous women, it is those women who I have met day to day that have made the most impact on me as a woman of childbearing age and a childbirth educator.

To begin by keeping with the famous, I will say that reading Ina May Gaskin’s books and learning about her wonderful work at The Farm opened my eyes to how simple but miraculous the work of birth can be…. how commonsensical.  I love her honesty about birth, her passion, and her calm willingness to identify and honor when obstetric help is needed in her midwifery practice.  She is a real mother’s advocate, and her recent work with maternal mortality is so very important to the big picture of maternal healthcare in the United States.

While pregnant with my second baby, I enjoyed so very much reading Baby Catcher by midwife Peggy Vincent.  It was truthful about all aspects of birth.  It is a memoir, and I respect very much Vincent’s handling of birth.  Birth is normal, there are many variations of normal, and sometimes things don’t go as planned.  This book helped me to see that, and understand that most times birth goes exactly how it should.

More recently, I’ve been learning about Penny Simkin, PT and am enjoying her work so very much.

But those women who have truly changed my life and my perspective of childbirth are as I said, those I have known personally.  It all began with my sister Ariana.  She taught me that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can be a good mother.  She exemplified for me my first real ideas of what birth is through her strength and approach to birthing.  She was not afraid of her body’s ability to birth and what it entailed.  She embraced it.  Ariana was also the first woman I saw breastfeed a baby.

After the birth of my first baby, I found I needed a community of mothers to talk about the experience with, and to relate to on the “mama” level.  As I began to meet mothers, I met Susan Linville.  She is a doula (labor support person) in the Louisville area who was recently featured in the KET documentary, Born too Soon, that I posted here before.  I appreciated her firm belief that birth is normal, and that women have the right to be informed and fully participatory in their prenatal care and birth experience.  She is a supporter of VBAC as an available option for women who meet the safety criteria and who then so choose to VBAC.  She works diligently at helping women understand their options and making all of those options more accessible.  She was a wonderful help and reassuring face as the doula for my second birth.

The next lovely birth lady I must mention is Angela Garvin.  She is a Louisville area birth doula and childbirth educator.  I took classes with her while preparing for my second birth.  The classes met for twelve weeks for two hours a session, so we were doing the heavy duty. 🙂  While I was already immersed in the world of childbirth education by that point, through internet and books, Angela helped me to see it in practice.  She is a passionate educator who deeply cares about the women she serves.  She taught me so much about all aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenting.  She put the ball in my court, so to speak.  Angela was the epitome of childbirth education as fun and rewarding.  I entered my second daughter’s birthday fully prepared and unafraid.  She has continued to encourage me in pursuing the path of becoming a childbirth educator, and now that I am offers her support and expertise.

Angela is second from the left and I am on the far right. The rest are Angela's former students also training to be childbirth educators! She has had a huge impact. 🙂

The most recent addition to this list is Robin Weiss, LCCE, my Passion for Birth instructor, author of many books, childbirth educator, birth doula, author of’s pregnancy pages (see my links), and mother to many.  I see all that she has done for mothers and children while parenting and working under many hats, and I am inspired to do my very best.  She is factual and fun.  An amazing woman.

There are so many others I could mention, like my midwife for my second pregnancy along with the many others offering holistic care to the growing number of women who are looking for their approach, and the many mothers who gave birth with the final result being my birth.  Childbirth is a transforming time for so many women.  It is a time to be in the know.  It is a real honor every time I am asked to be of service to a mother during this time.  The beauty of pregnancy and birth is very real and I am so happy to be a part of it from day to day.  Thanks so much to all the women who came before me to show me the way. 🙂

Many happy days to you and yours,


About Kelli

I am Kelli B. Haywood, LCCE, a childbirth educator certified through Lamaze, a birth doula, and prenatal yoga instructor. My two little girls light my life. I am the wife of artist, musician, and teacher - John Haywood.
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2 Responses to My Birth Heroines

  1. Robin is a true hero. I know she’s one of mine.

  2. Pingback: » Women’s History Blog Carnival

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