My name is Mary Manthei and I am The Labor Lady. It was a journey that brought me to this venture as a birth doula, and I'd like to tell you a bit about it.
While in college at University of Wisconsin-Madison, I took a Women's Studies course that ignited my passion for women's health issues. I subsequently decided to minor in Women's Studies and took several courses including my favorite: The History of Childbirth in the United States. We were taught about the medicalization of childbirth in the early 1900s, and how the birthing process shifted from a home-based environment with the presence of many women, to the hospital with doctors.
In this class I completed my favorite assignment of all time - interview a woman who gave birth during the 1940s or 50s and learn about her experience. During the span of this assignment my grandfather passed away, and while this was an incredibly difficult time, it gave me the rare chance to gather my grandmother and two of my great aunts at one table after the funeral to hear about their birth experiences. One by one other female family members trickled in to form an impromptu roundtable discussion about births of all the generations of my family... where I learned more about these women than I had ever known before. Although this was several years before I'd give birth, I learned in that talk the profound effect each labor and delivery outcome has on a woman, even 50+ years afterward. This conversation was over a decade ago, and it still ranks as one of my favorites of all time.
Photos (from left to right): the hospital in Boston where my mom was born in 1946; my grandma holding my mother after being released; my grandma holding my mom outside their Boston apartment; my Great Aunt Pat with my Aunt Maureen in Chicago; my Great Aunt Peg with her husband and children.
As the semester continued in The History of Childbirth in the United States, I became fascinated by the trends of different eras like twilight sleep, episiotomy, and elective c-sections. While most of my friends would shy away from a birth video, I became drawn to them, and would cry almost every time I watched an episode of "A Baby Story" on TLC. It was also during this time that I learned about the term "doula".
However, I have to admit I didn't fully understand the breadth of a doula's role in positive birth experiences. It wasn't until the end of 2014 when I got sick of hearing story after story of friends and acquaintances disappointed in their birthing experiences that I decided to do something about it and become part of a positive change. Since the medical side of births never appealed to me, I quickly realized my fate was to become a doula. It was a moment when I had to give a nod to the amazing Women's Studies department at UW, not only for helping me realize my passion for women's health issues, but for teaching me that one person making a small change can snowball into something so much bigger.
This is my mission: to help women fulfill their labor and birth goals, however they define them, in order to achieve a positive birthing experience.
MORE ABOUT MARY
I reside in Kenosha, WI with my husband, Ryan, three young children, and a yellow lab. I am a freelance graphic designer, active parent, and local charity volunteer. I also own co-own a personal planner line called Boldly + Co., with my friend and business partner, dedicated to maximizing time and balancing life.
My hobbies include enjoying good food and wine, painting, gardening, cooking, volunteering my time and talents to worthy causes, exercising, and spending time with friends and family.
Are you interested in becoming a doula? Here is a website with some useful information.