My name is Kelsi Kennedy, and I am a birth, postpartum, bereavement, long-distance, my-life-revolves-around-families-and-babies doula.
The question I am most commonly asked is, “Why did you choose this work?”
My road to birth work was not a linear one, that’s for sure!
I grew up in rural Tennessee where I never once heard the word “doula” in 23 years. However, the tiny farm town where I lived was also where I attended my first births! I’ve been supporting people in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum since I was 14 - before I ever knew this work had a name, much less that I could make a career out of it!
Since I didn’t yet know I could be a doula, I followed a traditional path.
I earned a Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Tennessee where I taught preschool and later, Kindergarten. While I loved teaching, it didn’t quite fit. As a freshman in college, I had developed in intense interest in the fight against human trafficking, more specifically, Restore NYC and the work they were doing as a safehome for survivors in Manhattan. I followed that passion all the way to a Masters program in Human Development and Social Intervention at NYU. A few months after I got my acceptance letter, I married my awesome husband and drove our yellow lab & everything that would fit in our SUV over one thousand miles to Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
For two years at NYU, I studied psychology and trauma, social justice issues, and research (so much research). I also had the privilege of working with survivors of sex trafficking as an Impact Analyst intern at RestoreNYC, which taught me more about trauma care and the importance of data than any course ever could have.
During that time, I learned that the mind and body are in a complex and beautiful relationship with one another. These lessons became really personal when, the summer before my final year of graduate school, I discovered I was pregnant! I read voraciously through my pregnancy and finally came across the word “doula.” Everything I read about doulas sounded like exactly the kind of support I was looking for in my own birth experience.
As a woman who has endured trauma, I benefitted deeply from the presence of our doula at the birth of my son. My husband was incredibly supportive and helpful, and having another person with us who had been in my exact position before offered a unique comfort, especially when things got intense. She brought peace and respite not just for me, but for him as well!
That experience illuminated something that had been living inside of me since I first attended a birth as a teenager- a genuine passion for pregnancy, birth, and all that comes after. I had been studying human development, caring for babies, and supporting pregnant friends for almost a decade before I discovered this beautiful work. A mere 5 weeks after the birth of my son, I attended my DONA birth doula training. I finished my graduate degree a few months later, knowing that I probably wouldn’t use my degree in the traditional sense. I didn’t care. I was going to be a doula!
That’s the short version of the path that led me here.
My greatest joy is supporting families through pregnancy, birth, and life as a new parent.
As a mother, I know that the bond you have with your baby(ies) before, during, and after birth is incomparable and complex. I am here to help you process the change of becoming a parent, of becoming a family, as it unfolds for you.
As a researcher, I believe that knowledge is power. I am here to provide you with evidence-based care to help you decide what is right for you during your birth experience. That means that I use research to help inform decision-making, considering your care providers' expertise along with your values, goals, and preferences.
As a doula, I know that you are powerful, wondrous, and capable. I am here to provide the practical tools, information, and emotional support that you can use to be empowered in your experience, not a preconceived idea of what the “perfect” birth or postpartum period looks like.
All of my experiences brought me to this work that I so deeply love, and I would be honored to walk with you as you accomplish the magnificent work of birth and beyond.