Today we’d like to introduce you to Suzanna Miller.
Suzanna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Helping others with their life journey has always been very important to me, along with seeing the beauty in everyone and everything. My interest in pregnancy, childbirth and babies began when I was six years old, with the birth of my younger brother and cousins. I believe my elders were doulas before we even knowing what about the word “doula”. The word Doula is Greek for “a woman’s servant,” and my Greek heritage on my mother’s side affirmed a deep sense of divine purpose from my female lineage to protect new mothers and bring forth new babies in the world. It has been a remarkable journey of remembering and awakening to this important purpose. After high school, two of my best friends had two children back to back, and I was there to support them, helping them raise their children as if they were my own. Working as a babysitter along with serving at a local church as a daycare teacher kept me busy gaining experience during high school and college. Developmental psychology and early childhood education were my main concentrations at the University of Kentucky because I envisioned myself as a child psychologist advocating for infant-maternal mental health.
Yale Medical School accepted me as a research assistant, so after college I worked at the Yale Child Study Center researching neuroscience and autism spectrum disorder for two years. The opportunity to leave the nest and live on my own in Connecticut allowed me to grow and gain insight about myself and my career goals. I learned the importance of early intervention, and prevention, but the unnatural academic setting turned me off. Working outside the research lab, I felt more comfortable as a family wellness entrepreneur, babysitting families in the community, studying ways to prevent dis-ease. I was more rewarded and able to make a bigger impact by helping families in the most natural setting of the home. A career change was upon me, something outside of academia and involving more of an interventionist role in the home. An independent graduate school in Chicago interviewed me and wanted me to enroll in their master’s degree program in early childhood education and social work, but after they denied my scholarship, I set forth on an alternative path. Taking a break from career-building, I did some soul searching in Puerto Rico with my boyfriend (now husband).
It was in Puerto Rico that I heard the term doula for the first time and felt the calling. I had made a new friend who was six months postpartum. She inspired me with her home-birth story, surrounded by her midwife, doula, and sisters. The trip opened my mind and spirit to serve families during one of the biggest life-changing events of having a baby. I felt that by serving families during their early parenting journey, I would intervene early and help prevent disease. After returning to the mainland, I set forth on the entrepreneur path and spent the next three years serving the community as a nanny, working with young children and babies. I became interested in natural remedies, such as aromatherapy and herbs, to enhance health and wellness.
My entrepreneurial spirit and husband’s job led me to Colorado in 2015. A new community of friends and amazing networks welcomed me. Denver was a brilliant place to serve families as a professional nanny and learning coach; offering childcare, house management, meal preparations, and interventionist skills. The Affirmative Yoga community quickly gained my attention, and I developed a strong relationship with my guru, Somah Devi Ma, studying Vedic texts of Yoga, Meditation, Ayurveda, and the power of botanical medicine through Savitur Botanicals. I began making aromatherapy blends and started sharing them at Red Tent Women’s’ Circles with Moon and Womb. Surrounded by a tribe of empowering Goddesses, I was sharing my creations while listening to stories that empowered us women to reconnect with our divine feminine essence. This guided me to awaken further to my potential, empowering me and strengthening my intuitive abilities. In the summer of 2018, I became a priestess at the Mermaid Temple of the Womb as a retreat facilitator and chef, holding a safe space for women to come gather, healing their mind, body, and spirit. Life-changing relationships and kindred spirits reunited changing my life journey forever!
It wasn’t until my little sister became pregnant, in 2015 that I registered for a postpartum doula certification to best support her postpartum experience. I became a DONA (Doula of North America International) Certified Postpartum Doula in February 2016 and served my sister and nephew for the first two months of her postpartum journey. My skills helped her establish breastfeeding and helped her navigate the additional challenges of becoming a mother while caring for newborn as a single parent.
For the past four years as a certified postpartum doula, I become more and more interested in the holistic healing arts, Ayurvedic medicine, and ancient traditions of life after childbirth, along with realizing the importance of building a strong support system, not only for parents but for all families, no matter the size. Now, as a Reiki level II practitioner and certified Yoga instructor, I incorporate holistic healing arts into my evolution while helping others grow and develop. I have gained amazing insight from an experienced network with Affirmative Yoga, along with the AlloTribe and Colorado Mountain Doula agencies, and many local midwives, chiropractic, and naturopathic doctors. My work is purposeful and comes from a deep lineage of service to women. The 100+ families I’ve served in my career are very meaningful, and I give my utmost respect to each of them, allowing me to be a part of their lives at such a vulnerable time. My sincerest gratitude goes to each individual family for they have helped me become the doula I am today.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I struggle with the fact that at least 1 in 7 women suffers from postpartum depression and the detrimental belief in our society that “asking for help is a sign of failure,” especially around motherhood. A lot of the work I do is helping mothers normalize the need for help. Every mother will have moments when she feels like she needs a break. It’s normal to feel that way. I challenge the stigmatisms and bringing new light to understanding “Mommy brain,” “sleeping through the night,” “being the perfect parent” and “being the perfect baby,” I struggle with spreading the awareness that a postpartum doula will be highly valuable for any family and you’re not a bad, depressed or lazy mother for having additional help, especially from a professional postpartum doula!
I became deeply affected by the traumas and heartbreaking family stories from my job at Yale Child Study Center. They shared a lot of hardships in parent interviews, sharing their challenges on how to adjust and raise a child with a crippling disease or disorder. The intense challenges from their stories deeply motivated me to learn about environmental toxins and genetic issues that impact a mother and her child’s development.
I struggle with witnessing the mental health and economic disparities that families experience with postpartum health. The US is the only country in the developed world that doesn’t guarantee any paid maternity leave for mothers. This negatively affects the family, especially the child’s health during pivotal times of development.
An obstacle I’ve overcome is the challenging belief that I don’t know about mothering because I am not a mother. I have always felt a deep call to work in this area, being very maternal myself, with immense experience and knowledge to share. I realize that many women give birth with male obstetricians who have no physical experience of giving birth and I now understand that clients choose care providers because they trust and form a connection. The providers have the right skills and reputation. Therefore, families love my postpartum support services, whether or not I have children of my own.
Another challenge is learning how much society affects the structure and health of family life. The lack of paid leave, dual-income households, and immense financial responsibilities makes it hard to be present for our children today. I understand the amount of service and sacrifice it takes to be a conscious mother raising conscious children and I struggle with the readiness to birth and raise children in a conscious and sustainable way.
We’d love to hear more about Positive Postpartum.
My business, Positive Postpartum, is about minimizing stress and maximizing joy, increasing confidence, and happiness after childbirth. As a certified postpartum doula, yoga instructor, reiki practitioner, and private chef, I am trained to help new parents expand into their new identities and help women heal after childbirth. My holistic approach to life, intensive childcare experience, studies in traditional Ayurvedic practices, and experience facilitating women’s retreats at the Mermaid Temple of The Womb set me apart from other postpartum services.
The postpartum journey is truly an opportunity to retreat, withdrawing to a quiet home environment, bonding, healing, and falling in love. I offer in-home packages and online consultations. Below, I summarize some things I do: Ayurvedic oil massage, Ayurvedic meal preparation, baby massage instruction, support for physical and emotional recovery from birth, sleep education and guidance, strategies for coping with sleeplessness, emotional change to new parenting roles, bonding and breastfeeding support, understanding of, and adjustment to, the unique personality of baby, household organization, managing visitors, building confidence in the parents’ unique parenting style and skills. I also have skills, passion, and experience in meditation, relaxation, mindfulness, yoga journeys, birth story reflection, life coaching, nutrition, and reiki energy treatments.
I specialize in providing a safe container for a family to feel comfortable, nurtured, and loved while providing guidance, education, non-judgmental support, and companionship to maximize the family’s wellness of the mind, body, and spirit. Holding space for authentic connection and healing, I help create harmony and allow mothers to tune into their divine feminine essence, realizing their power of creation. The ability to elevate parents above the experts and advice paradigm sets me apart, helping to make the first six weeks after childbirth the best six weeks of their life. I am prepared, easy to trust, with a reputation of being gentle and sensitive with a loving approach. I honor and respect every opportunity to serve families during a vulnerable time of overpowering love and profound transformation.
Birth and postpartum doulas are in a pivotal time of growth as leaders in maternal health and I am proud to have created a business directly involved in this grassroots movement. We are changing the way postpartum is perceived because it’s very undervalued and misunderstood in our culture. By honoring the mothers and fathers, as leaders, raising the next generation, my services impact the well-being of all future generations on our planet. I have affected many lives hoping to give children a better chance of having a happy and healthy future. My business gives immense value and purpose to families and that is something I am very proud of!
What were you like growing up?
I grew up in the bluegrass state of Kentucky. My parents raised me to be kind to yourself and others while treating everyone with respect. As a middle child, I was adaptable, courageous, and had an overall positive and cheerful demeanor. I had a lot of childhood friends in my neighborhood and learned the importance of community, connection, and extended family.
I was interested in childbirth from a young age and would curiously ask my mother and aunts about their pregnancies. Becoming a big sister at six was life changing, and I took on the responsibility with a calm, nurturing nature. I have a memory of not wanting to hold my newborn brother for the first time in the hospital; I wanted to wait until we were all safe at home. Being very gentle and patient with younger family members was something I learned quickly, and I always wanted to help care for my younger brother and cousins. Sweet but sassy, sometimes bossy, sometimes shy, I would follow my big sister and childhood friends while leading and teaching the youngsters. I enjoyed being silly, dancing and recording family life and imaginative shows on videotape. I have a volume of home videos to enjoy and reminisce about. I loved being in nature, always wandering, exploring, playing imaginatively outside and I loved riding horses. Spending a lot of time playing in Elkhorn Creek with cousins, camping, riding my bicycle, soccer, lots of imaginary dolls, dollhouses, and playing school fill my childhood photo albums. A natural teacher and caregiver, wanting to serve intuitively in actual life or imaginary play. I was optimistic that I would become a teacher, healer, and mother.
My childlike heart allows me to connect well with young children and babies. My sense of humility allows the actions of others (of all ages) to inspire me. I’ve learned the importance of good faith, always striving towards growth, and wanting to help humanity progress. As a lifelong learner, I yearn for novel experiences and I will always be interested in transformational experiences and knowledge to help me grow.
- In-home Doula Packages start at $2200
- Virtual Doula Packages start at $297
- Address: 4900 N. Raleigh ST
- Website: www.positivepostpartum.org
- Phone: 859-948-7870
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/positivepostpartums/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/positivepostpartums
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/PPostpartums
- Yelp: https://doulamatch.net/profile/19446/suzanna-miller
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/positivepostpartum/
Elizabeth Ogletree, Douglas Chapin Photography