Karriane Grow: On Advocating for Women Throughout Childbirth

Karriane Grow: On Advocating for Women Throughout Childbirth

After years of dealing with her own pain and being ignored by many in the medical community, Karriane took her reproductive health into her own hands. Her own experience in the healthcare field drove her to be an advocate for others, and eventually led to her starting her own business as a Doula. Karriane shares beautifully with us how she navigates the struggles pregnant mamas face, and how she lives out her passion to advocate for all women.


Karriane, tell us about you:

I am the founder and president of Cloud of Love Doula Services, LLC in Dayton Ohio and the surrounding areas. I’ve been married to my husband Ross Grow for almost 8 years. I am not just a Doula - like all women, I wear many hats. I am also an artist (predominantly painting), but I do enjoy a plethora of mediums because life is too short. I am a home chef in my own right and often end up in conversations with chefs at restaurants who love the art as much as I do - multiple mediums, remember? I have traveled the world and gained much experience and a larger world view because of it. I have a dog, two cats, and a tortoise. We hope to adopt one day, but the nanny children I have loved, plus my nieces, nephews, and friends children make that longing a bit less harsh.

What drove you to become a doula? 

After suffering from debilitating pain for 21 years and advocating for myself, I went through a seven month stretch where I had to advocate unlike ever before. 

I was told my pain was “normal” over and over by several doctors, but I knew it was not. I often ended up in the hospital when I had my menstrual cycle, passing out and in shock from the pain. In 2019, I had a growth appear in my belly button, sought medical help and quickly became a guinea pig. Surgeons wanted to do experimental surgery because they had never seen this before. It wasn’t cancer, although at one point they did think it was. 

Only one test was given, across seven different doctors over seven months. So I gathered my medical journal studies and went to the last doctor. I told him what I believed it was and even though he had never seen this in his 37 year OBGYN career, he agreed and he knew how to do the correct surgery. I had a type of endometriosis that happens in less than 1% of women with the condition, and it had grown through my stomach into what is known as a Villar's Nodule. Finally, I had an answer. Finally, I had a surgery date. 

There was nothing quite as exhausting as navigating this alone without someone to advocate with me. As a nanny and mother's helper for nearly a decade, I have seen people I love and have heard stories from friends of women they know who did not have support through birth. Being in their shoes, I knew something had to change, and that change could be me. 

I called my friend, a local Midwife with Abide Midwifery and described what I felt called to do. I asked if it was even a thing, and she replied “yes, it is called a Doula.” She told me how much Doulas are needed. I found a training that aligned with my belief system and went from there - and I would do it a thousand times over to support others in this capacity.

What's something you want moms considering hiring a doula to know?

Depending on the study and the year of the study, hiring a doula can decrease the risk of C-Section between 28% and 54%. However, that number seems to climb every year with every study. Hiring a Doula has been proven to reduce your need for painkillers and epidurals, shorten spontaneous labor by up to 45 minutes, create an increased likelihood of initiating breastfeeding, a lower incidence of depressive symptomatology, increased parental satisfaction with the birth experience, reduced risk of instrumental birth, and a reduced rate of induction of labor. These statistics come from Evidence Based Birth, which uses only meta analysis studies to back up their data.

Hiring a Doula is the best thing you can do for yourself. My advice is to interview a few, see who you connect with the most and determine whose philosophies align with yours the most. There is a Doula for every woman, and husband or partner. I coach both parents as this increases your bond and oxytocin levels, and helps partners know how to help.

 

How does Matrescence’s Mission to “mother the mother” resonate with you?

I am all about mothering the mother, supporting women in their most vulnerable time when everyone else is concerned with the baby. Supporting women at all times, before and especially after birth, is so important. Mom needs someone to hold her while she holds her baby.

I love how you seek to fill the void of support for Moms, this is literally why I exist. It boggles my mind how women’s bodies were not truly studied until the mid 1990’s and that so many healthcare professionals push various practices that are outdated and even disproved decades ago. We need more women supporting women in a vast variety of ways, but especially in the most sacred time of vulnerability, when a mother is born.

 

In what ways do you find wellness in your day? Do you struggle with prioritizing it in your life?

It can be hard as someone who cares for others to prioritize myself, but if I don’t the consequences are worse. I cannot pour from an empty cup. Practicing mindfulness has definitely helped. I just sit for an hour or so daily with coffee or tea in total silence. If I cannot get that at home, I garden, and in winter, I paint. I also worship and pray everyday, as well as getting out in nature in some way, which all regulate my nervous system. 

I try to pour into my body by eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, eating homemade sourdough bread and taking time to go to the gym, or getting a really good coffee I didn’t make with a life-giving friend. I find it is important to seek wellness for your body, mind, soul, and spirit to remain healthy.

What is your best advice about pregnancy/postpartum/parenting and who did you get it from?

You were created to give birth, it is not a medical emergency, it is the most natural thing as a woman you can do. Have grace for yourself, do what you can with the energy you have. Your body is doing and has done amazing things, it takes time to heal. Focus on your health over the to-do list. It is okay to mess up as a parent, no one has it perfect, apologize to your children when you do mess up and it is going to be okay.

Even though I am not a mom, we are all women and go through a lot of the same things and life experiences, and pep talks from friends and my experience as a Doula has taught me the same. 

 

What is your favorite part of your work? What has been the hardest?

My absolute favorite part is watching women do what they thought they couldn’t and being so proud of themselves. My other favorite is being a Doula at a home birth. There is nothing like these sacred holy moments with a Mom.

The hardest has been seeing providers not always honor women. I have cried often over this, I do my best to encourage women they can say no to anything they do not want and encourage them to use their B.R.A.I.N.:

B- What are the Benefits of this particular option?

R- What are the Risks of this particular option?

A- Are there natural Alternatives that I may try first?

I- What does my Intuition say about whether this is right for me?

N- I can say No or not now, and wait. It is always my choice.

Using this method is helpful in receiving true informed consent, not just being told what will be done or what they want to do to you, it is being told all of the risks, alternatives, and benefits so women can make a choice best for them.


Anything else you want us to know?

There are so many scientifically proven meta-analysis studies out there I wish I could share with you, but instead I will leave you with this: 

Focus on positive birth stories. Everyone likes to only tell moms about their negative experiences, and while those are important, they are not something an expecting mom needs to hear. I highly recommend reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth which is full of positive birth stories and useful information that will be helpful through labor. The other book I recommend from a Christian perspective that touched my life is Holy Labor by Aubrey Smith. It puts birth in a biblical perspective and it is redemptive. Have a box of tissues as your heart gets healed from that last read!

Remember, you got this mama!

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