Angie Smith has been a birth doula with Balanced Birth Support for nearly a year now, and in that time has exponentially increased not only her birth training, but significantly expanded her services. In addition to comprehensive birth doula services, she also offers red tent ceremonies, placenta prints, and breastmilk jewelry. She is also a certified Reiki II practitioner. As I write this, Angie is at The Farm in Tennessee training to be a midwife's assistant. She is incredibly passionate and enthusiastic about birth and the amazing power of women, and never stops learning. She believes so profoundly in the importance of doulas and positive birth experiences that she volunteers with Durham Volunteer Doulas, offering her doula services to families through the health department.
Read on to learn some fun facts about Angie!
Where were you born?
I was born in the mountains of North Carolina in a small place called Brevard. I still have family there and it’s absolutely the most beautiful place.
How long have you lived in the Raleigh / Durham area?
I’ve lived here for about 20 years.
Tell me about the moment you wanted to be a doula.
When my eldest daughter became pregnant she asked me to be her doula. My first question was ‘What is a doula?’ I researched for months about the role and educated myself on the many aspects of what was to be expected out of me. In this process, I just felt a calling. After attending my grandson’s birth, that calling became stronger and my desire blossomed. It has just felt natural to me. I learn new things every day on how to help women and I’m loving it!
Are you a birth or postpartum doula? Or both? Why?
I am a birth doula. I feel this is where my strength lies. I enjoy offering prenatal education, teaching mom and her partner positions and moves to make the birth journey flow easier, and feel ever so blessed at being present during each family’s miracle.
What is your favorite book/author/movie/band? Why?
Currently Jeff Wheeler is my go-to author. I enjoy his take on fantasy sci-fi and appreciate the pureness of the writing. I am now sharing his books with my grandson who has also fallen in love with his work.
My most recent favorite book, however, is The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. This is the book that has spawned Red Tent ceremonies everywhere. With good reason. The circle of sisterhood that was once present in our history has dissolved and been mostly forgotten. This book reminds women how important that sisterhood is and how important it is to welcome young women that are coming of age into this circle.
My favorite kids book is a tie between Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm by Jerdine Nolan and Heart of the Game: Minor Hockey Moments by John Newby. Balloon Farm is just a fun book to read out loud with the kids. Not to mention the lesson of unique people often have awesome talents to share. Being a Hockey Mom and now a Hockey Gigi, Heart of the Game holds a special place for me. It verbalizes and illustrates the reason these kids get on the ice and the lessons that are learned there. Every lesson you need to learn in life can be learned through playing hockey.
What are some organizations that are near and dear to you? Do you do any volunteer or charity work?
This year I was fortunate enough to travel to Bali, Indonesia and not only learn about Yayasan Bumi Sehat, but visit there as well. ‘Yayasan’ means not-for-profit, ‘Bumi’ means earth-mother, and ‘Sehat’ translates as healthy. Thus, they are the Healthy Mother Earth Foundation. The foundation operates three Community Health and Education and Childbirth Centers within Indonesia. At the clinics, they offer a comprehensive range of allopathic and holistic medicine, as well as pre and post-natal care, breastfeeding support, infant, child and family health services, nutritional education, pre-natal yoga and gentle, loving natural birth services. All of this at no cost to the Indonesian families that come to them. The midwives are so knowledgeable and the atmosphere is so ideal that people from around the world fly into Bali to give birth there. For those that travel in for their birth, there is a small fee. A fraction of what it would cost in the US. Yet what they offer is priceless.
It is that sense of giving and of knowing that every woman should have a peaceful, and supportive birth that has led me to become a part of a newly formed organization called Durham Volunteer Doulas. DVD is working with the health department to offer the services and benefits of a doula to every woman. I feel this is a big step in helping those that otherwise would not have the support they need in the birthing room.
Do you have any favorite quotes or poems?
Ina May Gaskin seems to be my go-to for birth quotes :
“Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body and your spirit for the rest of your life.”
I have found this to resonate so true.
Do you have any useless talents?
I actually am one of those people that has random useless facts in my head. Like your foot is the same size as your forearm, or the one body part that never grows is your eyes. Quite the opposite is your nose that never stops growing. Did you know that Waffle House has one of the most sophisticated exhaust systems in the restaurant industry? I do….
What do you like to do in a your free time? Do you have any hobbies?
I actually like to game a bit in my free time. Zelda is my obsession. Then there is hockey. I love hockey! NHL, college, and youth hockey are just the most awesome things to watch and cheer on. My family has been in the hockey world for 15 years. It began with my son and now my grandsons are playing. There’s nothing like the sound of skates on the ice at 6 am to put a smile on your face.
If you could have an all-expenses paid trip to see any famous world monument, which monument would you choose?
I honestly can’t think of a world monument that I would choose. My family and I are more interested in what the people of certain countries and areas are like. Australia is on my bucket list. However, I would rather go in country, get my hands dirty and visit people that live in the Outback as opposed to sightseeing the Sydney Opera House. I actually love getting lost and being able to meet real people and learn about their lives. I feel it makes me a richer person to have the knowledge and appreciation for all the uniqueness in our world.
What would you like your doula clients to know about you?
I would like my clients to know that they are more than clients to me. I feel honored and blessed by every birth I am invited to. I hold that time and space that I have with a family to be an intimate and sacred time.
What do you hope to bring to a birth?
Security, peace, empowerment and support. I want every mother I serve to feel safe and know that her wishes have been heard. By making sure that no decision is made unless the parents completely understand what is about to happen, I empower them to know that they have made the choice and it has not been made for them. I will support those choices whatever they are without judgement. I will lend my strength both emotionally and physically to the mother. In the end, no matter what choices or decisions have been made, I want the family to be at peace with the process.
What do you like best about being a doula?
EVERYTHING! I love meeting expectant parents. Each new family brings a new series of events. No two births are alike. Being able to teach prenatally and then attend a woman through her birth journey is so uplifting for me. When a woman is able to enjoy her birth, not fear it, I feel so much gratitude for this calling I have received.
What do you wish that more people knew about birth or pregnancy?
That just because your pregnant doesn’t mean your sick and you shouldn’t automatically be treated that way. I want families to know they have options and the right to choose how they birth. I would like for more OBs and midwives to know that birth can be a very enjoyable event if a woman is allowed to do it organically and how her body has prepared for it. Birth is a very sacred time and it should be treated with honor and respect.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
This past year I have drawn a lot of inspiration from Ibu Robin Lim, Debra Pascali-Bonaro, and a very supportive circle of sisterhood that was formed while I was in Bali. Since visiting Bali this past April, I have approached birth from a more grounded earthy position. When speaking to others about what I do, I like to express the spiritual side of it. The connection between all those in attendance. The way our environment effects the family and the outcome of the birth.
Who do you look up to or idolize?
I look up to anyone that is able to sacrifice themselves for the good of others. There are many famous people I could name but the ones that have the most influence in my life are the ones that stand in the background. Those women that give all they have for their families and expect nothing in return. Those fathers that work from sun up to sun down so that their wives can be available at a moment’s notice to help their children. Those same fathers who get up extra early, or make sure to have Sundays off, in order to spend time with their families. I admire anyone that makes charity and sacrifice second nature. For then it’s not charity or sacrifice, it’s just the way life is.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
To be able to clean my house by twitching my nose!
If you were attending a birth on a desert island, what ONE thing would you bring?
A birthing ball. Everything else can be made from the materials on hand.
Do you have a public instagram/twitter?
Working on it.
what is one piece of advice that you would give to a new father/partner
Always tell momma that she is beautiful. When baby wakes in the middle of the night, it’s your job to get up, change the diaper and bring baby to mom. Those few minutes of support make a huge difference to how a mom approaches a feeding in the middle of the night.
What one thing that you would like a new mother to know about the fourth trimester?
She is never alone. I always let my families know that they can still call me at any time. Although I don’t do postpartum work, I will do everything I can to make sure that the family finds the right support system for their needs. Sometimes that support is me listening on the other end of the phone at 3 am when a mom has had a hard day.
Do you have any go-to resources you recommend to families?
I have a resources packet that I give to each of my families. The packet includes the information we cover prenatally, as well as information on available services and support in the area.
Author: Renee Corbino
Renee keeps Balanced Birth Support organized and amazing as the Administrative Manager. She lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and two cute little boys. She is a breech birthing mama and supporter of empowering births.