I'm Cynthya Dzialo, The Happiest Doula in the ATL.
Around 2004, I completed my studies in graphic design at the Atlanta College of Art and worked as an art teacher at the Charles R. Drew Charter Elementary School in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta. While teaching, I chose to supplement my income as a part-time babysitter (and freelance artist!) for five local families with babies all under the age of six months and in one case, a newborn infant. Four of the five families had birthed their babies at Northside and Piedmont hospitals and had "emergency" c-sections.
Since that seemed strange to me, I tried to find a common link. Had the mother or baby been sick throughout the pregnancy? Did the family have good insurance and/or a good maternity care provider? Had they taken a childbirth class? Was the baby breech?
What in the world?
The common link proved to be quite simple. All these highly-educated and hard working parents hadn't known their real options for a good birth outcome. A few had taken childbirth classes but it had been provided by the hospital, which wasn't truly educational and lacked information about non-pharmacological pain management. All of these families went the traditional route of using an obstetrician for a low-risk pregnancy and delivery and had never considered midwifery care. All of the mothers who had a c-section told me that they trusted their doctor and followed their advice without questioning alternatives, benefits or risk factors. I was even told by a few of the moms that this made them feel powerless, unable to make informed decisions during their labor, and felt that this contributed to their trouble breastfeeding and bonding with their newborns postpartum.
I had to help! (I heard the call.)
It was clear to me that I had to learn more about the current over-medicalization of birth in America. I read everything that I could get my hands on about childbirth. (Read Pushed by Jennifer Block. Holy cow.) I watched the Business of Being Born. I was beginning a new chapter of my life helping women feel empowered to birth their babies however they wished and to be able to take on parenthood with confidence and gusto. I was doing this (and still am) gently, lovingly and with no personal agenda other than providing accurate information and emotional support.
In 2007ish, I began working as a full-time nanny for two children. Over the next four years, I stopped teaching and completed my certification as a Birth Doula, Hypno-Doula and an educator of The Happiest Baby on the Block. For sometime, I offered postpartum support to many neighborhood families and provided on-call help with their older children during labor, which is why I now offer Sibling Doula care.
What I'm up to now...
For the past few years, I've worked as a Birth Doula and have witnessed over 140 birthdays! I am certified with Childbirth International and a trained doula with HypnoBirthing and Hypnobabies. I've gathered a great resource listing of local hypno-enthusiasts teaching Hypnobabies childbirth classes, and created a mentorship program for hypno doulas serving the Atlanta area. I am also currently studying pre-conception and pregnancy nutrition, hypnosis and EFT to help couples with issues surrounding fertility. I plan to offer a Fertility Service Package in 2014 so be sure to stay tuned for updates on this website!
Yep, I'm teaching again but not to kids.
In 2012, I was asked by two certified nurse midwives that deliver at Northside Hospital, Laurie Braswell and Judy Fielder, to help them and the Northside education coordinators create a workshop for the hospital's Labor & Delivery nurses. Together, we produced a seminar / workshop about labor and childbirth preferences, birth plans, types of childbirth education, and non-pharmacological options so the nurses can further support their patients. I invited my back-up doula, Alice to help me design a break-out session with hands-on training for the nursing staff. We showed how the existing items in each delivery room can be used during labor. (Think of the adjustable beds and rocking chairs.) We showed how to use counter pressure, positioning and ice packs to relieve pain so that the nurses may encourage birth partners to do this for laboring mamas. The overall point was to share our skills set and desire to support all types of childbirth with the nurses that can help make a difference in reducing the high rate of c-sections. The name of this seminar was called Contemporary Strategies for Optimizing Childbirth. It's a mouthful indeed but since it was so well-received and educational, Alice and I have been asked to repeat our portion three more times in 2013 and we've been told the class is now mandatory. Check out this infographic that we shared with the nurses as a visual reminder and my favorite hand out about the impact that words have during labor.
In mid February 2013, I had an interesting radio interview with Toni & Griff on AM1100. I really enjoyed talking with them about childbirth and helping spread the news about doulas and childbirth options. I invite you to listen online but keep in mind that Toni & Griff are comedians so if time is short, please be sure to hear Part Three. Here is Part One and Part Two. Please share and enjoy!
In my spare time,
I run an infant apparel company called Soba-Pop Ink - check out our blog for contests and new designs. We have some pretty smart-aleck baby onesies for sale that will fit most newborns. Buy one (or five!) here.
The rest of my online CV is at LinkedIN along with client recommendations. Please connect with me and let me know if I can assist you with a project idea. I'm very happy to help!