About Doula Pamm Klieman
My name is Pamela Klieman, and I am 31 years postpartum! This is my “herstory” and a summary of all my doula work.
Some say I have the “touch” with babies. I have been doing doula work since I was a little girl. When my mother became pregnant with my third sibling, I cooked, fluffed pillows and offered hands-on mama care after the birth. I then did the same for my siblings and their babies. It was just my way. I could comfort a crying baby, assist with breastfeeding and get a new mama to a breastfeeding support group in a flash, if needed. Later, I hired doulas for family when I was not able to attend their births or provide postpartum care.
When I was having babies of my own, the doula world of today was in its infancy, but I had great support and felt “complete” after each birth. Both birth experiences were completely different; the first being a cesarean birth after a three-day labor, and the second a textbook 12-hour vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) at home. Both babies were BIG at 10 and 11 pounds. Both births changed my life. Both births pushed me in directions I had not anticipated.
A Young Cesarean Mother
After my first baby, I stepped into the community as an advocate for childbearing families. I taught Bradley Natural Childbirth Classes with my husband, went to nursing school, attended home and hospital births and participated in epic hospital changes in Ventura County. I also joined La Leche League, attended rallies and became active in the county’s Organization for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth (OSAC). As a young parent, I attended strategy meetings with my nursing baby. As an OSAC member, I collaborated with other members and spoke to local professionals, or anyone who was remotely interested in changing the direction of birth in Ventura County. Cesarean and labor support, immediate breastfeeding after birth and the use of midwives were, at the time, not an option. Finally, as changes began to manifest, the first nurse midwife in Ventura County caught a baby in a local hospital...and my husband was there to take photos! Until that point, anything different from a labor and delivery room experience did not exist for most women unless you had your baby at home, and that’s what I did. I had a VBAC at home with two lay midwife friends. Note that state licensing for lay midwives was still several years away.
Growing Confidence After a VBAC Birth at Home
I stepped up my game, investing more time supporting women and families in other capacities. I was drawn to the field of family violence prevention while continuing my community work as a birth advocate. I managed crisis lines, developed trainings, wrote grants and began to speak out as a subject matter expert at state and national conferences, all the while teaching birth classes, attending births and continuing to support birth options. Throughout this period, I witnessed many professionals who risked their reputations to create the changes both in and out of hospitals that we take for granted today. Some were blacklisted, went to court, lost their livelihood and moved on. Others are still practicing birth workers today. Rest assured, the reason why Ventura County has so many birth options today is because of the commitment of many birth advocates to promoting evidence-based practices and our birth choices.
I worked many years at Ventura County Naval Base (NBVC) providing social services to young Navy families, including home visits. With explicit goals, objectives and family violence prevention measures, I began another sort of doula work. I reenergized NBVC’s New Parent Support Program, which became nationally recognized and put my program on the map with a 100% success rate! I also continued my education and developed an expertise in pre- and perinatal psychology - that MamaBaby connection. I studied best parenting practices and baby brilliance, and I worked with families from all over the world that had many diverse backgrounds. Doing so is a highlight of my doula career. When I left NBVC, I completed a postpartum doula certification program with an international doula organization, Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA). However, my commitment to the field of family violence prevention remains unwavering as I have come to understand that the tender connections that are nurtured early on are an important antidote for some of the worst ills in our society, including child abuse and family violence. This is not my opinion, but rather an evidence-based statement. This work is important on many levels. Nurturing families create nurturing communities, and communities make up the world at large. While it’s a personal honor to witness the transformation that occurs in a woman’s life when she becomes a mother, the assistance I offer is much greater than myself, and for a much greater cause.
My Doula Work Now
The ability to connect the dots between nurturing families and the world in its entirety has been the most meaningful and has fueled my altruistic passion. But there is still much work to be done in the birth community. My hope is that all new mamas experience a sense of pride and empowerment during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. However, this is not the norm. “Normal” prenatal care is generally fear-based in nature, and a “normal” birth experience often leaves a mama confused and estranged from her baby, leaving the door wide open for postpartum depression and anxiety. New mamas are usually isolated with unrealistic expectations as they begin to transition into new parenthood. Hence, my work as a doula is more important than ever, empowering mamas to make informed birth choices and to embrace and nurture that MamaBaby connection. With this vison, I promise to honor, advocate and support you to the best of my ability. I will walk with you through the many blissful and challenging moments to come. You will find that MamaBaby connection, develop your new parent skills and find your intuition as you transition into your new role. You can be the MamaBaby you envision.