Tell me about your business.
Andrea Hewitt: I’m the owner of East Nashville Doulas, a full-service, professional doula agency in Nashville. We offer birth doula services, postpartum doula services, childbirth education classes, breastfeeding classes, and fourth trimester classes. Our team consists of 8 doulas, including myself, plus a lactation educator. And we are committed to providing inclusive care to all families in the greater Nashville area.
For those who don’t know what doulas do, we are non-medical labor support professionals who provide physical, emotional, and informational support to families before, during, and after birth.
How did you get into this field, and why do you love it?
Andrea Hewitt: In 2015, I left my job as the Program Coordinator of the Faculty Senate at Vanderbilt University, where I had worked for the past 12 years, because I was ready to find a job where I could make a difference in people’s lives in a more direct & tangible way. I’m a helper by nature. I had been fascinated by all things birth and babies since I was younger, and having had two children of my own had only fueled my desire to help empower pregnant people to have their best birth.
I trained and certified as a birth doula first, then I became a certified Lamaze childbirth educator, and a trained postpartum doula, as well. I opened my solo practice in 2015. After I got so busy last year that I was turning clients away, I opened my agency in July 2018. Bringing on other doulas to help with this work has been such an amazing experience. I love mentoring these doulas and watching them grow in their careers, too.
My favorite part of my job, besides directly supporting people in labor and in their postpartum time, is watching people go from not knowing much at all about birth and the choices they have for care to feeling empowered and well-informed about their birth choices. We know that people are more likely to have a good experience if they are a participant in the decision-making process about their birth. Doulas give people the tools they need to have those important conversations with their care provider team. We are proud to work together with obstetricians, midwives, and nurses to help clients get the best birth possible.
What difficulties related to gender or sexuality have you had to overcome to be successful?
Andrea Hewitt: Honestly, I was a bit worried at first about the impact my being a lesbian would have on my ability to get clients. Although Nashville is a very progressive city, I know that not every person is accepting. But my experience has been the exact opposite. I state in my bio on our website that I’m married to a woman since I want to be upfront about it from the beginning. And it has never been a problem. We are also very vocal about inclusive care for all, and that’s a value that’s very dear to me and everyone who works with me. I find that this resonates with our client families, and I think it’s actually been a plus for us.
There is some homophobia in the birth world, though, and there are some doulas & midwives who will not work with LGBTQ families. It’s so sad to me when I hear of the discrimination that LGBTQ families experience when they are simply trying to get care. I want all of them to know that we support you and we can help you find supportive care providers if you need that service.