Meet Katelyn Gonzalez
Meet Katelyn Gonzalez. Katelyn is a doula and childbirth educator who works with and supports clients to meet their desires and needs around birth and postpartum. She has been practicing full time in the San Francisco Bay Area for 4 years, has attended over 100 births, and has supported dozens of families during the immediate weeks following birth. In our Meet the Doula series, Katelyn shares her role in an inspiring recent labor and some helpful tips around navigating postpartum hormones.
Can you tell us a little about your own experience as a parent?
My daughter Antonia was born in July 2020, smack dab in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though I’ve seen so many births and have been a part of so many peoples’ postpartum experiences, my own pregnancy, birth, and postpartum has humbled me to my core. My daughter is my greatest teacher and my own view on motherhood can be described as “exhausting, beautiful, hard, and wonderful.”
Why did you become a doula?
My sister had her first baby when I was 17 and seeing her pregnancy, birth, and postpartum changed my world. However I didn’t jump right into doula work. I went to college and graduated with a degree in journalism and practiced tech PR for nearly 10 years. Then one day I decided that work didn’t feed my soul, and so I quit my job and became a full time doula. I’ve always been fascinated by pregnancy and birth and consider myself a “helper,” so that, coupled with my naturally calm demeanor, made it a dream job for me.
Can you tell us about a recent labor and delivery and your role in supporting the mother, birthing person, or partner? What are your reflections on that experience?
So many come to mind. Every single birth is different and just when I think I’ve got it down, something comes up that makes me have a newfound respect for this work. One particular birth that I loved was with a woman who had labored all day and all night in the hospital and was stuck at 7 centimeters for 12+ hours. She worked so hard and so beautifully. She went on to have a vaginal birth (something that we thought might not be possible due to her being at 7cm for so long), but what I loved most was that her support team consisted of her husband, me, mother and father, and every one of us took turns supporting her on the way we all needed to. At one point I supported her laboring on the toilet, another moment her husband was rubbing her back in only the way he could, and her parents went and got us all food. It was teamwork at its finest. I love when the whole family can get involved (grandparents too!)
What are some of your favorite self care rituals for postpartum?
REST! And good, nourishing, warm meals that taste good. After every birth I was a part of as a doula, I would treat myself as if I were postpartum. So I’d take a nice hot shower, eat warm food, drink tons of water, teas, and bone broth, and sleep and rest as long as I wanted to/possible.
How has COVID changed the birth experience and support for mothers and birthing people?
Ugh, this is something I could write a whole novel on. I think the main thing I’ve seen and experienced is that COVID has taken away the community pregnant people and new parents crave and need! I can’t wait for people to be able to gather again for baby showers, mother’s blessings, postpartum support groups, etc.
What stands out to you when working with first-time vs. second-time mothers, birthing people, and parents?
From a very logistical point of view, second and subsequent labors tend to go much faster. I think lots of new parents can be more anxious about everything - how will the birth go, how will breastfeeding go, how am I going to do without much sleep, etc. All valid anxieties if you’ve never been through it! Second-time parents are much more laid back about everything. It comes with experience and time! I also see many parents wanting a “different” experience than their first so they put more time, energy, money into their support team, and things like nourishing food postpartum.
What are some of your favorite meals or snacks for postpartum recovery?
Soups and stews with healing veggies and hearty meats. Teas with warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, turmeric, star anise, cardamom. Energy balls made from soaked nuts, goji berries, and dates. Room temp smoothies. Anything that’s easy to eat with one hand.
What are your best tips for postpartum care?
The number one thing I tell people is to truly rest those 6 weeks after birth. Newborns are often sleepy, so take advantage of that and lay in bed as much as you can. Your body just grew and birthed a human in 9ish months. It needs time to come back together. Also make sure you’re taking care of your mind too. Postpartum hormones are wild, so be vocal about what you need. For me even watching the news was too much in those early days postpartum so I made sure to keep things light-hearted. Also, on a practical level, make sure you’re ready for those postpartum night sweats. They completely caught me off guard and I soaked through shirts and sheets for weeks. Sleep with a towel under you! And wear light clothing that are both easy to breastfeed in and won’t overheat you.
Do you have any advice for new mothers or birthing people experiencing postpartum anxiety or depression?
Yes. First, there is nothing wrong with you. It is so common to have anxiety and/or depression postpartum and I wish more people talked about it. If you do suspect you’re experiencing these things, make sure you’re letting your closest loved ones know what’s going on and/or contact your care provider. I relied heavily on my therapist postpartum and she validated a lot of my feelings that I thought were “scary.” But I knew that by talking to her and truly letting her know what was going on in my head that she would know if she needed to step in and suggest medication or alternative interventions.
What's the worst advice you've heard for postpartum & early motherhood or parenthood?
I think all of the advice that undermines a parent’s intuition is by far the worst. You are the best parent for your baby! Even if all the “experts” tell you what you and your baby should or shouldn’t be doing, listen to your gut.
What's the best advice you've heard for postpartum & early motherhood or parenthood?
Everything’s a phase, nothing lasts forever, and babies certainly don’t keep.
Any closing advice for someone who's about to become a new mother or parent?
Take it day by day, sometimes even moment by moment. It’s hard work, and some days you’ll question what you got yourself into and wonder if you’re doing it right. but it’s the best thing you’ll ever do and someday you’ll look back on this time with the fondest memories.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out our other blog post, Meet the Doula: Lindsey Ehlers from Austin, Texas!
Katelyn Gonzalez is a certified Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, and childbirth educator servicing the East Bay, San Francisco, Peninsula, South Bay, and surrounding areas.
Interested in being featured in our Meet the Doulas Series? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.