The two amazing women I’m introducing today have teamed up to offer a wonderful Lamaze series of childbirth education at Blooma. The are both doulas as well, and I’ve had the honor of attending births with both of them! Amber also is a talented massage therapist. I would say one of the best for pregnancy! You can get on her massage schedule through Blooma. Find them on their individual websites as well, with Liz at Minneapolis Doula and Amber at Birth Nerd.
Liz Hochman and Amber Kay
Liz is a birth doula and Lamaze Trained Childbirth Educator.
Amber is a Birth Doula, Prenatal Massage Therapist, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Certified Car seat Safety Inspector = Birth Nerd!
Liz: I live with my husband of 6 years, Michael and my daughters Lilly (5) and Lucy (2). We have a mean cat, who we fondly call Kitten.
Amber: I live with my amazing partner Corrie. She and I are currently engaged and due to be married next June! We have an adorable puffy dog named Marty.
Liz: I was born in Bismarck, ND, but spent the majority of my youth/teenage years in Spring Lake Park, MN.
Amber: Medford, MN
Liz: I have lived in Hopkins for almost 9 years and plan to live here forever – I love it.
Amber: South Minneapolis – KINGFIELD!
Favorite weekday dinner:
Liz: You are really going to ‘out’ me here Kate! I feel like I need to say “Hi My name is Liz, and I’m addicted to eating out”. My husband and I have always shared a love for dining out. If we go on a ‘date’, it always involves our favorite restaurants. Our current dining out rotation includes; Wok in the Park, Pho Tau Bay, Quang, Rice Paper, Brasa, I could go on and on. The girls have dined out since they were teeny tiny little babes. So they are quite adept at proper restaurant behavior. It’s our ‘thing’.
Amber: Greens from our garden and local food from the coop. Corrie & I both love to cook. Sometimes though, it’s just a bowl of gluten-free cereal.
Liz: Considering I was an athlete for the greater part of my youth, I have to admit I have been slacking in this arena. As an adult I’ve grown away from my basketball and group sport workouts and moved into pilates, kick-boxing, and weightlifting (my husband is sure to chuckle reading this since I haven’t been to the gym in well over a month). Also, my doula buddies and colleagues at Blooma have convinced me its time to get a serious yoga practice underway.
Amber: “Favorite?” well, I have been known to run around the lake now and then or ride my bike places, but I don’t know if I’d call working out a favorite activity. Ha ha!
Favorite downtime activity:
Liz: I absolutely adore sipping wine with my birth buddies on an outdoor patio after Childbirth Collective Parent Topic Nights. We talk birth until there is nothing else to say (sometimes this takes till 1 in the morning).
Amber: Spending time with corrie, or reading books about birth, seriously. Oh, and of course I can’t say no to a drink with some doula sister, either.
Kate: When did you know you wanted to be doulas and childbirth educators?
Liz: my road to birth work was a long and twisty journey. I have always been a feminist, in the sense that I have always believed in the power and strength of women. I just couldn’t figure out how that would apply to my career until I was serendipitously laid off from my job as a Senior Research Manager for a large Market Research firm in 2009. It was then that I had to do the hard work of looking into my soul and seeking out what would fill my cup in life. My passion was and always will be supporting women in their journey through life and motherhood. I took a leap of faith and pursued doula work. After my first birth I was hooked and I’ve never looked back. When I took those first steps towards becoming a doula, I always knew that teaching would be part of my birth career. I am having the BEST time realizing my life’s passion and fulfilling my dream of becoming a Lamaze Childbirth Educator at Blooma.
Amber: I watched my best friend give birth, and the moment her son was born, so was a doula… me! Nine years later, here I am still trying to learn even more about birth. It was my journey in doula work that brought me to childbirth education, because I felt that there just wasn’t enough time in my short doula visits to tell my clients everything I felt they needed to know about birth in order to proceed confidently.
Kate: Tell me a bit about your practice.
Liz: I assist families in their births usually in Minneapolis and the western suburbs, but have been known to travel as far as Eagan an St. Paul for those clients I absolutely fall in love with. I have attended home births (with Kate!) which I absolutely adore and hospital births at almost every hospital in the Twin Cities. As for Childbirth Education – I teach Lamaze with Amber at both of the Blooma locations. We have a Sunday series that runs back to back with more options coming soon for weeknights and weekend intensives.
Amber: I teach Lamaze classes at Blooma, and starting this fall, I will be teaching primarily in the new St Paul location. As for my birth doula work, I am a private client doula, teamed up with the amazing and wonderful Nicole Stecker – we are birth nerds together. More about us and our package can be found at Rock Your Birth.
Kate: What is the best part of your job?
Liz: Witnessing a mother and her partner seek out information, integrate it, and then apply it to their own birth experiences. So often I meet with a client or student and they unload their fears, concerns, and worries. Hopefully, if I’ve done my job right, I will show them all the doors that they can choose to walk through, what the benefits and risks of each one are so that they can navigate which path is right for them. The best part of all is when the moment comes full circle and they have their sleeping babe in their arms, they are beaming with love and strength, and they say to me “I did it!”
Amber: In my Lamaze work, my favorite part is watching new parents get informed and feel empowered. It’s so fun to get to know so many brand new families, too. It never gets old. In my doula work, I have to admit, it’s pretty awesome getting to meet a new baby at the end of every shift. My jobs are awesome, because the people I work with are always happy to see me. It’s not like I am someone who writes out parking tickets! I get to work with people during an extremely joyous time in their lives. That energy is addictive!
Kate: What benefits have you seen for the families who take your Lamaze class?
Liz: Probably the best thing I’ve heard so far from one of my students was “I had the knowledge prior to the class, I just learned how to trust it I’m not afraid of birth anymore, I’m excited and looking forward to it!”
Amber: They get the information they need so that they feel empowered and proud of what they can do! This confidence helps them get through birth, but also it helps them as new parents. Who couldn’t use a little more confidence?
Kate: I think so many families still think Lamaze is about just breathing. You know, the hee-hee hoo-hoo breathing from the 80’s. What can you tell us about what you really do at a Lamaze class?
Liz & Amber: We hear this a lot! Lamaze has transitioned from just the focused breathing techniques into a foundation of the Six Healthy Birth Practices. They are; let labor begin on its own, walk, move and change positions during labor, have continuous labor support, avoid unnecessary interventions, get upright and follow your own urges to push, and no separation of mother and baby.
Kate: How would you say that you are unique from other childbirth educators in the community?
Liz & Amber: As educators, we strive to make our childbirth ed classes look nothing like what most people might imagine: the ones held in a dingy hospital basement, with an old lady lecturing to a bored class in a monotone voice, forceps and other scary instruments passed around, and occasionally a quick breathing exercise. Oh heck no! Our classes are SO FUN! We play with silly putty, balloons, ping pong balls, rubber bands, gems, dice, markers and more! We incorporate some healthy competition between moms and partners, learning from each other, drawing, and watching videos that are funny, powerful, and beautiful. We talk about fears and communication; we do a lot of story telling and a lot of laughing! We have such a good time that we’ve been told by others in the space to “keep it down” but it’s so much fun, it’s really hard not to make a little noise!
Also, as educators, we are huge believers in women’s intuition and strength. We use our combined 12 years experience in birth doula work to give real examples of what birth looks like in the metro area today. Together we share a common goal of educating mothers and families, stomping out fear and building confidence!
Kate: Especially in the home birth setting, people wonder how a doula will be helpful, considering that their midwives will be with them and provide continuity of care in a way that isn’t provided in other birth settings. How do you feel your role as a doula is different in the home birth setting, and why is it still beneficial to have a doula at a home birth? (As a midwife, I see doulas at all births as a tremendous support!)
Liz: Let me start by saying that attending a home birth is always a treat for a doula who sees a lot of hospital birth. When I doula for home births my role does change ever so slightly, but its also enhanced. It means that everyone in the space believes in physiological birth. We are all working towards the same goal of supporting the mother and her family through a peaceful, joyful, and normal process. I still do all of my usual doula type things; hip squeezes, sacral pressure, massages, feeding and watering the mother, cool cloths on the forehead, supporting the partner, and encouraging mothers to trust their bodies. These things are separate from the work of midwives who are busy with medical tasks like charting, monitoring baby and mother, and making sure everything continues to be normal. As a doula I’m solely focused on the mother and partner’s well-being.
Amber: She pretty much summed it up. I feel exactly the same way. : )
Kate: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with our pregnant readers?
Liz: trust trust trust. As women, I think from a young age, we are taught to push away intuition and trust only what social pressures and logic tells us to. Tap back into your own truth. It will not lead you astray. You KNOW how to do this.
Amber: Learn about your options. If you don’t know about your options, you don’t have any. That knowledge will empower you and allow you to realize that you already know everything you need to know to give birth perfectly.
Kate: Do you have any advice you’d like to share with our post birth, new mom and new dad readers?
Liz: Adapting to your ‘new normal’ is something that each family does in their own way. Take moments to connect and reflect. Make time for your partner and everything else will just fall into place.
Amber: Continue listening to your own intuition. There is plenty of unsolicited advice out there, but you know best how to be a great parent. That, and sleep when your baby sleeps. : )