DONA International Advanced Certified Birth Doula
DONA International Birth Doula Trainer
DONA International Education, Grievance, Social Media, and Website Committees
DONA International President(2020), DONA International, President Elect (2019), Marketing and Public Relations Director(2015-2018), Board of Directors
Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Fellow
Certified Lactation Counselor
How it all got started…
In the late 1990’s, Melissa felt the urge to pursue her passion of serving birthing women. After the amazing vaginal birth of her twin nieces(Jan 2002), she was captivated and quickly set the ball in motion to make that dream a reality! After attending the DONA International doula workshop, and working through the certification process, Melissa became a certified doula CD(DONA) in May, 2003. In 2005, Melissa began to feel the urge to fulfill her passion of education through becoming a childbirth educator with Lamaze International and joined the incredible team of educators who represent Lamaze International and Passion for Birth by completing all steps necessary to receive the credential of LCCE.
Not long after becoming a childbirth educator Melissa began the process of becoming a DONA Approved Doula Trainer (2007). The process included training under some of the nation’s top doulas and mentors including working closely with DONA International founder Penny Simkin. The trainer-training process was an exceptional experience and an opportunity for Melissa to put her birth doula skills and educational/mentoring skills together!
Currently, Melissa actively teaches childbirth education classes in her community and has worked with over 1200 couples as a doula and/or educator. She also trains new doulas, mainly in the Southeastern US, having trained 500+ doulas since her approval. In 2017, Melissa received the honored designation of FACCE (Fellow in the Acadamy of Childbirth Educators), as well as her certification as a Lactation Counselor (CLC).
Melissa believes in getting involved in the organizations she hangs her hat with.
and has been an active volunteer of DONA International for many years. She began as a member of the certification committee(2009) and then served two terms as the DONA Florida state representative(2011-2015). In early 2015 Melissa was appointed to the DONA International Board Of Directors in the position of Southeastern US Regional Director, and then moved to the position of DONA International Director Of Marketing and Public Relations(2016). In 2018, Melissa was elected as the incoming President Elect for DONA International, and transition into the role of President on January 1, 2020. As a leader with DONA International, Melissa works with doulas, healthcare providers, legislators, and other stakeholders in maternal health worldwide to advocate for access to doula support for every family that wants one.
In addition to working with new doulas and expectant families, Melissa also enjoys writing for childbirth-related publications. She was excited to utilize her skills to write two articles for the Journal of Perinatal Education (JPE)reviewing birth books and materials for readers. In January of 2010, Melissa received word that her submitted essay “A Mother’s Strength” would be published in the new book, Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told By Doulas as one of 50 contributions. Melissa was also thrilled to find out that her essay, The Many Faces of Joyful Birth, would also be published a few years later in the 2nd Bearing Witness book, Joyful Birth: More Childbirth Stories Told By Doulas. In late 2014, Melissa was invited to be a guest contributor to the Lamaze International Blog, Science and Sensibility in celebration of Native American History Month. Melissa is honored to be a contributor to all of these fabulous publications!
Melissa tries to attend continuing education conferences regularly, and has had the pleasure of attending 12 DONA International conferences, and 4 Lamaze International conferences! At these conferences, Melissa has attended sessions and workshops hosted by some of the birthing world’s most notable names including: Penny Simkin, John Kennell, Phyllis Klaus, Dr. Marshall Klaus, Dr. John Kennell, Teri Shilling and many others!
Above all, Melissa loves empowering women as mothers, and birth workers as doulas! She believes in the process of birth and encourages women to trust their inner strength. Melissa works with couples to help them discover what their ideal birth looks like, and then to put the plan in place to help them achieve that ideal when possible. Most important to Melissa is that women feel that they are a part of the decision-making process surrounding their pregnancies and birth and that they know that they have options and choices available to them! Melissa believes that there is no “right” way to birth and that each woman has their own individual needs during the childbearing years. She feels beyond blessed for being invited in to witness one of life’s most precious moments.
When not working with childbearing families or new doulas, Melissa loves spending time with her family, husband Ken and two teenagers. Melissa loves traveling to train and mentor new doulas however she and her family call Tallahassee, Fl, home.
What’s your favorite childbirth quote? “It has to be Barbra Katz-Rothman….”Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers ~ strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” What’s the best part of your job? “Oh, too many to list, but if I have to choose a […]
Melissa has been honored to contribute to several publications in regard to childbirth. Here are the links to some of her favorite contributions: Essays and articles Melissa has Authored: “A Mother’s Strength,” Bearing Witness, Childbirth Stories Told By Doulas In this first book in the Bearing Witness book series, Melissa shared her experience while […]