Dawn Star is a doula who I feel very privileged to say that I know well. This is mostly due to our shared time together as part of the Philly Doula Co-op, but also because I make it a special point to invite the wisdom that Dawn Star has to offer into my life at every opportunity. There is one thing that I can be sure of - whether it’s in a business meeting, at a social gathering, sitting in a client prenatal appointment together or just observing Dawn Star on social media after an upsetting world event - when she has something to say, I want to listen! Dawn Star has a one-in-at-least-a-thousand (maybe a million!) ability to pay attention, take in information and perspectives, carefully evaluate and then produce thoughtful, wise words in response. She is an above and beyond listener and learner which makes her an above and beyond teacher. I’m never surprised when someone in my class who is looking for a smart, calm, strong presence at their birth chooses Dawn Star as their doula.
Before she became a birth doula, Dawn Star already had a career as a religious educator, and through that role, birth work found her and drew her in. It happened that two expectant couples from her community sensed her fitness for the role and matter-of-factly told her that she was going to be their birth educator and their doula! Pursuing birth work made sense since Dawn Star had a life-long fascination with birth, breastfeeding and parenting. In the dozen years since she helped those two couples prepare for and welcome their babies, she she became certified by Birthing From Within as a doula and childbirth educator and has now educated and supported nearly 100 birthing people.
Dawn Star has recently started describing herself as an “improvisational doula” By this she means that “what I do as a doula is responsive to what's happening in your labor and birth, who you are, what you need, how your partner is supporting you.” Part of how she accomplishes this is by building rapport in the birth space between everyone who is present, whenever possible. One of her greatest strengths is her ability to be adaptable in a lot of different situations. This adaptability, observance and responsiveness enables her to achieve those moments where she feels exactly in her element, figuring out what this this specific birthing person needs from her in this moment.
Do you know is NOT Dawn Star’s gift? Shallow flattery and sugar coating situations that need to be dealt with soberly. She is simply a calm presence, never overtaking a situation or space with more-than-necessary energy. I see this even in how Dawn Star responded to one of my questions about "birth heroes," in particular in sharing about her gratitude for how someone like Ina May Gaskin has made great contributions to the world of healthy, well-supported, spiritually attuned birth - BUT - noting that Ina May has also made problematic public statements more recently that need to be considered. Dawn Star’s humility allows her to have a keen ability to see the positives and the negatives of any and every person, recognizing the strengths AND liabilities of situations in order to help elevate and realize the very best outcomes for people entrusted to her care.
I’m sensing a theme in the doulas that I have found a great connection with — there are lots of other “moms of four” who I have a natural affinity for! Dawn Star is another mom of four who has done birth work in the past when her kids were younger, and now enjoys the greater simplicity of leaving for a birth with more self-sufficient humans making up her household. Beside the flexibility of having kids who can manage without their mother for the span of a labor, Dawn Star’s other full-time job as a Unitarian Universalist religious educator affords her the flexibility to step away when a baby decides to have a birthday. Dawn Star says of this job, this calling - “Sometimes that makes people nervous if they have very particular ideas about religion but what it really means is that I've had lots of experience working with lots of different kinds of families, and that I'm very comfortable working with whatever a family's religious or spiritual needs are - or with families for whom that isn't important at all.”
After she has helped to support a someone continuously through their birth, Dawn Star has a ritual of stopping by Wawa on her way home for a treat. Less than 5 hours of sleep demands that she nap right away, but if she’s had at least 5 hours of sleep she’ll push through until bedtime, yet still allow herself a couple days to fully recover from the physical and emotional expenditure of supporting a birth. When she can enjoy some time being off-call she will travel with her family. If she needs to quietly hold space in a hands-off way during a birth, she’s been known to make use of her knitting skills to pass the time.
I could go on … so please just enjoy this video interview with Dawn Star and see for yourself what a unique and wonderful person she is. Contact information for Dawn Star can be found below so that you can reach out to inquire about her services as a birth or postpartum doula, private childbirth educator, for bellycasting or even for leading gatherings to honor a pregnant person or a new baby for those who may not have an existing religious community to provide that kind of service.
Birth Doula Fee: $1200
Serving the Greater Philadelphia Area - within 1 hour drive of Bala Cynwd