About St. Brigid's Holistic Labor Care

 

Kelly started St. Brigid's in 2009 and has been serving families as a birth doula ever since! In 2014, St. Brigid's added Craniosacral Therapy to its services to aid in optimal fetal positioning (read easier birth) and newborn support. (CST is fantastic for lactation concerns, neck tension, and misshapen heads in the newborn, among many other things.) St. Brigid's is the first in west Michigan to offer Upledger CST to families during the childbearing year.

In 2016 Kelly noticed that her clients were having incredible outcomes compared to her colleagues and felt that the training and certifications currently offered to doulas was lacking. She is in the process of fine-tuning a curriculum for doulas to better serve their clients.

As a result of this development, St.Brigid's has grown! Meet Jessica VanSweden and Allison Brito! Along with what's listed below, they are trained as birth doulas and have training in how to support nursing moms in the first hour after birth. With these additions to the team, St. Brigid's now offers postpartum doula support, childbirth education, and more to come soon. Read more about them below and then come meet us! There is no way to capture how wonderful these women are with a picture and a short bio.

Say "hello" to our team!

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Jessica Vansweden, Kelly O'Brien Pahman, Allison Brito

 

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Kelly Marie O'Brien Pahman

  • 1995 Witnessed my first birth and fell in love

  • 2001/2002 Attended a course in Ann Arbor for doula training, but recognized that I was young and that if it was meant to be birth would come back to me (it did!)

  • 2007 Graduated from Kuyper College with a degree in Theology, and Youth Minstry, with a minor in TESOL and Communications

  • 2009 Attended and soon graduated from the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education with a diploma as a Holistic Labor Companion

  • 2010 Married!

  • 2011 Attended midwifery assistant course with Simply Born

  • 2012 Gave birth to my son Brendan!

  • 2014 Attended midwifery assistant course with Midwifery Matters

  • 2014 NRP certification

  • 2014 Began training with the Upledger Institute: Craniosacral Therapy 1&2, Somato Emotional Release 1&2, CST for Conception, Pregnancy, Birth, and the Newborn.

  • 2016 Attended my 100th birth!

  • 2016 Began apprenticeship program with St.Brigid's HLC adding perinatal services and childbirth education classes.

  • 2017 Awaiting our own new baby coming in March!

My Journey as a Birth Worker

 

I blog about the first birth I witnessed in Guilt brought me to birth. I was 14 and my mom was giving birth to my youngest sister Shannon. After witnessing the power of birth I was hooked. I read all I could and somehow found out about birth doulas and wanted to become one. So right out of high school, after I had moved to Michigan from the most beautiful place on earth (Winona MN), I began taking courses at the Center for the Childbearing Year in Ann Arbor to become certified as a doula. I attended several births and loved it. I was also pursuing other interests. I was a Student at Kuyper College and journeying into adulthood. I recognized I was young and so I placed my desire to be a birth worker on the back burner, and if it was meant to be I knew it would come back to me.

After graduating from Kuyper College, with a degree in Bible & Theology, Youth Ministry and a Minor in Communications and TESOL, I spent some time working in administration and soon found the desire to return to birth work was alive and well. I soon signed up for the Holistic Labor Companion program at The Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education in Mount Pleasant, MI. I valued its holistic approach and its program seemed to be the most rigorous and comprehensive I could find. I was very satisfied with the education I had received there and once I had completed the program I found I was respected among birth workers in my community who had been involved in the field longer than I had.

While I was in my training at NITE, I attended a birth and in that birth there was a powerful moment that I realized that I had never before felt so connected to heaven and earth at the same time. It was then I knew that this was where I needed to be and that the season was ripe for me to enter into life as a birth worker.

A bit about my training:

There are many providers offering holistic birth services. When I say I offer holistic labor care, it is not always apparent what that entails. What exactly does it mean for me to be a holistic labor companion?

I have received a diploma as a holistic labor companion from the Naturopathic Institute of Therapies and Education (NITE), what some have called the “toughest testing school in the nation” for natural health and massage therapies.

This means I have had extensive training with a midwife and other holistic health practitioners throughout the course of a year. This training includes significant class time and experience addressing care for women and their families throughout the childbearing year. Not only do I have training as a doula, but I am uniquely qualified to aid families in nutrition, essential oils, homeopathy, muscle testing, flower remedies, herbal remedies, and reflexology, along with other modalities.

 

 

 

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Allison Brito

 

Allison first witnessed a live birth when she was 2 ½ years old - her brother's. Her own two labors were very different from each other, and both were empowering and life-changing. She has been a "birth geek" for years now, and is working towards her certifications as a birth doula and childbirth educator through Childbirth International. She loves empowering and equipping women during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Strongly convinced that women are individuals, she loves helping mothers figure out what their ideal birth should include and how to achieve those goals. Allison believes labor is work, that women are built for it, and that it can be extremely rewarding.

A bit from Kelly about Allison:

Allison and I were freshmen in college together! We have always had a love of birth and are shameless in how openly and often we talk about pregnancy, birth and motherhood. Allison is a wonderful mother who has had 2 very different personal birth experiences which are an incredible support to her work. She lived in the Dominican Republic for 5 years so she is fluent in Spanish and we look forward to adding those services to our team!

 

"Allison's presence of mind, dedication to my specific needs and knowledge for my unique journey of labor (which included back labor and a posterior baby) gave me "permission" to embrace the kind of natural hospital birth I desired - completely empowering to both me and my husband! Hope to have her at every birth in our future!"

~Elizabeth

 

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Jessica VanSweden

 

Jessica VanSweden is our postpartum doula who works with women at any stage after the birth of their baby.  She provides support to moms and dads as they adjust to these new transitions, whether or not this is their first baby.  Some of Jessica’s services include:

*light housework and meal prep

*connections to local resources including chiropractors, body work therapists, psychologists, acupuncture, “green” baby products, etc.

*newborn education and guidance, and postpartum body education and guidance

*help with infant care

 

 

Education:

Grand Valley State University

Calvin College- BA English

Herbal Medicine for Women- Dr. Aviva Romm

 

Focuses:

Menstruation, including education for pre-teens and teens, as well as any woman at any point in her life.

Holistic health and healing

Postpartum health and wellness

Herbal care including teas, tinctures, lotions, and flower essences

 

I believe that every woman has to the right to make her own choices concerning her body and the way she chooses to give birth.  I believe that women’s bodies are strong, capable, beautiful gifts, and should be treated with respect, kindness, and love.

 

I believe that menstruation, sexuality, pregnancy, birth, and motherhood are among our greatest creative gifts, and that women should be fully nurtured and supported during these precious times.

 

I believe that health encompasses all things physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

 

A bit from Kelly about Jess:

I cannot gush enough about Jess, I am excited about her in so many ways. Jess and I have known each other for years and her heart for women's health is evident. She is a mother with a calm, steadfast presence, and a keen eye. She has much personal experience with personal food sensitivities and I am excited for her to support new mothers in that aspect of their journey as well.

 

"Jess was a helpful, peaceful, and non-intrusive presence in the labor and birth of my daughter. She read my chosen affirmations, poured water on my back, supported me physically, took video footage and generally helped with any and all aspects of the birth.

I would recommend her to anyone as a doula, both for birth and the postpartum period!"

~Allison