I grew up in a small city in Western Massachusetts, and attended suburban schools throughout my life.
Being multicultural and in tune with cultural differences because of my family, I knew there was more to life than Wilbraham, Massachusetts! I am an only child on my mothers side of the family, and I am the oldest of four children on my dads side. I am the oldest of 20 grandchildren, and my parents had me at an early age. My paternal grandfather played basketball overseas, my paternal grandmother was an early childhood educator who traveled the world addressing educational discrepancies, and my maternal grandparents owned a jewelry store in Springfield, Massachusetts where I worked through middle and high school.
I am significantly older than my siblings. My youngest brothers birth was the first one I saw at the age of twelve. There was something about this moment and feeling of elation that I realized I could not find anywhere else. I was also present for the birth of my first godchild in high school…there was something about this feeling connected to births that I couldn’t put my finger on. My sister, who was born in 2015, was another birth that I attended, and the first birth that I attended as a doula.
After high school, I was convinced I wanted to be a nurse. Aside from my parents and grandparents, my family was composed of health care workers – nurse practitioners, social workers, registered nurses, physicians assistants, and health care administrators. I watched my grandparents working at an older age and decided entrepreneurship wasn’t my thing. My mother ended up relocating to North Carolina for a job offer at the same time that I went to UNCG for nursing. I got bored with books…quickly. At the time I was 17, I graduated high school early, and I simply wasn’t prepared for college.
While attending UNCG, I also participated in an internship in Population Health Management which is essentially corporate healthcare! I switched my major to complete my bachelors degree online in Public Health, and began working full time at the age of 21. Three years later, my degree was complete and I was still working. However, I was unfulfilled. I suffered through reproductive issues in college that began my lifelong education of women’s health and reproduction.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was searching for something…the feeling I felt in each and every birthing experience I had been a part of. My best friend started a yoni steaming business and I started to heavily research my body and it’s functionality. I became indulged in women’s bodies and the magical things we can do before, during, and after childbirth! I came across the definition and purpose of a doula and realized this is who I was, this was my calling, and this was what I was supposed to be doing. There was something so empowering, so powerful, but so calm about birthing experiences and a mother’s interaction with her newborn child. This was where I was supposed to be. This is me. I am Briana Smith, Birth and Postpartum Doula.