Doula Kathy Tellstrom helped Keira Heimbecker-Moss'
parents get ready for her arrival. In the background are Mike Moss and Cassie Heimbecker. Advocate Photo by Christine Nesheim
When Cassie Heimbecher, 20, learned she was having a baby, she had mixed feelings. She was elated, of course. But she also
felt nervous and uncertain about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.
She found comfort in the services of Kathy Tellstrom, a certified doula and owner of Door County Doula, Sturgeon Bay.
was excited about having the baby, but I was scared, too. I didn’t know what I was getting into, and Kathy made it more
comfortable,” said Heimbecher, who is from Kewaunee.
“I felt better with Kathy there (during childbirth).
She knew what she was doing.”
Tellstrom was there, along with Heimbecher’s partner, Mike Moss, to welcome
Keira Heimbecher-Moss to the world in November.
Tellstrom also companioned the couple during childbirth classes and
invited them to attend parent support group meetings.
A birth doula is trained and experienced in childbirth and provides
continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth, according
to Doulas of North America (DONA), a doula association based in Jasper, Ind.
Tellstrom is a certified doula who holds
additional credentials as a labor and postpartum doula and certified childbirth educator. She provides childbirth education,
birth support and postpartum assistance to adults, as well as teens.
She volunteers doula services, along with her
partner, Amy Jahnke, also a certified doula, as part of the Hand in Hand Teenage Pregnancy Support of Door County program.
People served range in age from 13 to 23 years old.
“I see a huge benefit for teens. I have watched their worlds
expand,” Tellstrom said of the program, adding that she hopes to obtain a community agency’s financial support
of her volunteerism.
“It is amazing to watch from the beginning – when they are afraid of their pregnancy
and how they are going to be parents – to see them develop to mothers and fathers. That is so important to me.”
A beginning step for most expectant parents is a childbirth education class. The classes, offered by Tellstrom at
Hope Church, Sturgeon Bay, appeal to teens who may feel uncomfortable going to hospital-based sessions attended by older married
Tellstrom also accompanies couples who choose to register for childbirth classes at Door County Memorial
Hospital/Ministry Health Care. The young adults get an opportunity to tour the hospital’s Birthing Center and meet nurses
in advance of their hospital stay.
“It is important for the young mothers to get acquainted with the
nursing staff, and the staff has been very open to us coming up,” Tellstrom said.
Tellstrom encourages couples
to prepare what she calls “intentions plans,” which outline their desires for the childbirth experience. When
the time comes, the doula’s role is to comfort the mom during labor and calm family members, as well.
try to bring them into a peaceful setting,” Tellstrom said.
Heimbecher recalled being comforted by Tellstrom’s
massage and her tips on breathing during labor.
“She went with me to the hospital and was there for the whole
experience,” Heimbecher said. “She helped me a lot when I was giving birth.”
Studies have shown
that a doula’s presence “tends to shorten labor with fewer complications, reduce negative feelings about childbirth
experience and reduce need for pain medications,” according to DONA.
The new parents often turn to Hands Reaching
Out, a teen parent support group operated by Tellstrom at Hope Church in partnership with Family Centers of Door County.
are attempting to get teens motivated to be parents in the community and to have a better tomorrow for them,” Tellstrom
said. “It’s baby steps at first – we take it one step at a time.”
Tellstrom is quick to recognize
individuals, churches and businesses, including Wal-Mart, for donations of gifts, as well as infant clothing and supplies.
People interested in donating books about pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding are asked to call Tellstrom, 920-743-6955.
is a parent of six children ranging in age from 2 to 21. She lives in Sturgeon Bay with her husband, Jim Tellstrom, a fourth-grade
teacher in the Sturgeon Bay School District.
The idea for the business (more information is online at www.doorcountydoula.com) came to Tellstrom in 2001 after she experienced a miscarriage and began counseling other parents, who suffered losses.
my loss opened a doorway,” she said. ”I believe that we have to celebrate life every day – the good, the
bad and the ugly.”
New mom Cassie Heimbecker says she felt better with
doula Kathy Tellstrom's help before, during and after giving birth to her daughter, Keira. Advocate Photo by Christine