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Full Spectrum Doulas in Denver + Boulder, CO

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Meet Sierra: Birth, Beer, and Bad TV

Skylar VanSteemburg

What is your hope for the future of doula work?

At the Colorado Doulas Association conference last year, I attended a presentation by Cristen Pascucci of ImprovingBirth.org where I learned that over 90% of people giving birth do not work with a doula. When I think about that number, I think about how there are A LOT of people that we’re not reaching – people who don’t have access to a doula, people who think that a doula isn’t for them, and people who haven’t even heard of doulas! I would like to see doulas more fully integrated into the maternal health care system so that everyone who wants a doula can have one and so that more people are aware of the evidence for doulas and how doula support can be beneficial for every type of birth. I envision: more in-house doulas at hospitals and birth centers; insurance and Medicaid coverage for doulas so that doula care is more affordable; more avenues for doulas to make a living wage and support ourselves and our families; and community doula programs specifically for underserved populations aimed at addressing health disparities.

A moment when you knew you wanted to be a doula:

When I signed up for my CAPPA doula training, I didn’t think that I was actually going to become a doula. At the time, I was pursuing a career supporting women’s human rights and women’s health through the nonprofit sector, and I thought that taking the training would add to my knowledge base about pregnancy and birth and teach me some interesting skills. But at the training, I felt a spark that I couldn’t ignore, and I also met my future business partner, Skylar – it was fate! After attending my first couple of births and experiencing how birth work challenges me, allows me to use critical thinking, intuition, and creativity, and provides an avenue for making a positive difference for my clients and my community, I knew that this was the path for me.

A challenging moment as a doula:

Some of the most challenging times I’ve had as a doula are when unforeseen obstacles emerge during a labor or birth. Things can sometimes change rapidly, which requires me to think on my feet and quickly absorb and communicate information, while also remaining deeply attuned to my client’s needs and goals. I’m confident in my ability to do this and to be calm, thoughtful, and organized under pressure, but it’s still tough!

What keeps you going/what motivates you?

Just as birth has its challenging moments, each birth also has transcendent moments. For me, that’s witnessing women and birthing people tap into their power and strength during labor and birth – making and owning the choices that are right for them and deepening their connection to their body. I believe that if you are supported, empowered, informed, and cared for during the birth process, it can be a time where you discover the fullest expression of yourself, and that can radiate into other areas of your life as well. Seeing that unfold for my clients fuels my energy and passion for this work. In addition, being there when a new life comes into the world, in all its beautiful, messy, mysterious, earthy glory never ceases to amaze and humble me, and it’s something I want to come back to again and again.

What is some advice from another doula that has helped you?

As part of my labor doula certification, I took an incredibly informative childbirth education class with Carole Robison-Brass and Julie Guarino of Macushla Birth. While we were discussing informed consent, Carole and Julie also emphasized the importance of conscious agreement and intuition in the decision-making process. After learning about this, I incorporated it into my own practice and began to take more opportunities to encourage my clients to check in with their intuition when they are weighing the many options they have to consider during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. I’ve seen that it makes a dramatic difference in how my clients approach decisions, how confident they are in their choices, and how they feel when they reflect on those choices later. I’m so grateful to Carole and Julie for this great advice!

What’s your favorite part about working as a team?

I love working in a partnership because I know that we are stronger together (if you haven’t noticed, we’re really into shine theory)! Skylar and I support one another so that we can best support our clients through our unique team approach.  For me, that support means having a life outside of work, benefiting from our combined professional skills and experience, knowing that she’s there to share the joys and challenges that come with being a doula, and just enjoying her friendship!

Why Denver?

Other than a couple of years spent in New York City in my twenties, Colorado has always been my home. I grew up and went to college in Boulder and I have lived in Denver since 2010. I love the mountains, the small-town feel that Denver has retained even as it has grown, the fun arts and music scene (which I get to participate in via my boyfriend, Tom, who is in an awesome band), and being near my family and long-time friends.

What do you do for self-care?

I’m an introvert, so in order to have the energy to be a doula, I always need to make sure that I have solo time to rest and rejuvenate. For me, that usually looks like kicking back on the couch with my cat on my lap, a cup of tea or glass of wine in my hand, and my nose in a book. Other self-care measures for me include being in nature, moving my body, doing something creative, and making sure I have opportunities to unplug.

What’s something on your bucket list?

I would love to hike the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route through France and Spain.

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

This is a pretty superficial superpower, but I would love to be able to do something to alter my appearance (like dye/cut my hair or get a tattoo) and then have it instantaneously go back to its original state whenever I wanted.

 Favorite local brewery? 

I decided to alter this question, since my answer to the original ice cream question would be the same as Skylar’s. Luckily, in addition to delicious ice cream spots, we have tons of great local craft breweries! It seems like a new one pops up every day, but some of my current favorites are Ratio Beerworks in Denver and Sanitas Brewing Co. in Boulder.

What’s the last TV show you binge-watched?

Some of my girlfriends decided that we should watch “The Bachelor” together as a group and, while I was initially resistant, I ended up getting deeply, embarrassingly into it. It’s full of awful gender stereotypes and messed-up messages about relationships, but I’ve fallen for it just like (spoiler!) Ben fell for Lauren B.