About Gwen Kiehne
I first found my way to birth work in 2011, two years after the birth of my daughter. Helping families through labor, birth and during the postpartum period is a perfect match for my interests, skills, and experience. It is work that I have come to consider my calling. I received my B.A. with special honors in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin where I worked in a children's research laboratory studying the psychological development of children. I wanted to apply my research skills to our education system and moved to Seattle originally to study educational psychology at the University of Washington. I soon realized that my trajectory in research was pulling me away from my love of working directly with people. I have always worked in human service whether it be childcare, group home direct care, patient service in a hospital setting, or student service in a university setting. I am passionate about and dedicated to helping people in a direct and meaningful way.
After my daughter was born I felt called to somehow apply my skills to helping other new parents who were struggling through the same challenges I was. I felt compelled to be the help that I wish I had received. I had not prepared for how much I would need my community in those early days and quickly realized that my personal resources were limited. Parenting, I realized, is something that we were meant to do together. The old adage that 'it takes a village' rings true for me.
It is the thought of being a part of other people's village that attracts and excites me. I received my professional DONA approved postpartum doula training through the Simkin Center for Allied Birth Professions at Bastyr University. I am certified as a postpartum doula through the Northwest Association for Postpartum Support (NAPS). I have advanced training through the Simkin Center as a Certified Lactation Educator.
In 2013 I completed my labor support doula training through the Simkin Center at Bastyr and in March of 2014 began providing labor support to Seattle area families. In September 2016, I proudly completed my Birth Doula certification through the Pacific Association for Labor Support (PALS). Through this work, I have discovered my passion for being a calming and empowering presence on the labor support team. I believe that laboring people, people giving birth, and people caring for newborn babies are beautiful and powerful and deserving of holistic care so that they can focus completely on their important work. Partners often fill this support role beautifully and partners also need care to be able to fulfill that role in a sustainable way. Having a confident doula in the room to offer encouragement, information, confidence, ideas, and continuous physical support to the laboring person and their family can be an enormous comfort. I am honored to serve families in this way.
Everyone in the family system is born anew when a new life is brought into the world. I am not to interfere in this process, but rather act as a salve, smoothing the rough edges of this change. This is my primary goal as a doula, to simply help your family feel supported, to fill in the gaps where I can, to offer ideas where they're wanted. Bringing a new human being into the world takes a great deal of energy. The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the immediate positive impact that a kind and understanding hand can have.
In 2016, after years of helping families troubleshoot sleepless nights, I decided to receive formal training as a sleep coach. I certified with Moorea Malatt of Sleep Savvy Parenting Support. Helping babies and parents get better quality sleep is some of the most rewarding work that I do. Sleep can be so elusive in those early months and the information available can be overwhelming. Rigid parenting philosophies can feel like a tug-of-war of techniques and opinions. I like to walk a middle path, fostering independence and learning while nurturing a strong parent/child attachment relationship. These ideas are not at odds, as much as some book authors would have us believe that they are. I struggled with sleep as a parent and I know how hard this particular adjustment can be.
In 2019, I began working with the Swedish Doula Program as a postpartum doula and in 2020, I stepped into a leadership role with the program, managing operations. In 2022, I became Lead Doula with the program and have since had limited capacity for taking on my own clients.