MICHELLE'S TRAINING & EXPERIENCE
The Birth Ease Method
Evidence Based Birth®
Professional Member since November 2017
Birth Monopoly "Know Yours Rights" course 2019
HypnoBirthing® Fertility Consultant
HypnoBirthing® Institute 2010 - Certificate #0402-10
Calm Birth Meditation Instructor
Calm Birth 2020
HypnoBirthing® - The Mongan Method Practitioner
HypnoBirthing® Institute 2003 - Certificate #1596-03
Hypnobabies Network 2004
New Concepts in Painless Childbirth
Richard F. Widmeier, PhD 2004
Certified Childbirth Educator
Florida's FOCEP Program 2004
HypnoMothering Institute 2015
Certified Doula/ Childbirth Assistant
Childbirth Enhancement Foundation 2000
StillBirthday Birth & Bereavement Doula 2014
Midwifery Birth Assistant
The Birth Place, Special Beginnings, The Birthing Cottage,
Inspiration Family Birth Center 2003-2011
Workshops 2005, 2020
Arnold Palmer Hospital 2003
Dunstan Baby Infant Communication Method Educator
Dunstan Baby Infant Institution 2008
Internationally Certified Aromatherapist
Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy 2001
Certified in Ericksonian, Clinical & Regression Hypnosis
Hypnotic Research Society, Inc. 2003, 2006
Four Corners Hypnosis 2011
Individual Instruction with Ronald Sterns, Ph.D.
Certified NLP Master Practitioner
American Union of NLP 2018
PFA Psychological First Aid 2014
Praeclarus Press Secondary Post Traumatic Stress
PESI Trauma Professional, Compassion Fatigue 2016-17
Birth & Trauma Support Center 2020
Domestic Violence & the Birth Care Professional 2020
Resilient Birth: Supporting Survivors in Perinatal 2020
Grief & Loss
Certified Grief Counseling Specialist 2021
StillBirthday Chaplain & Midwife of Thanatology 2016
Stillbirthday Birth & Bereavement Doula 2014
Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, & Death 2016, 2018
RTS Bereavement Training 2015
I have been fascinated with birth since I was a little girl. I remember being about 5 years old and watching a television show in which a woman gave birth. I began crying. Not out of fear, but because it touched this place deep within me even as a small child. From that point on, I must have caused some embarrassment for my mom and my aunt because I was constantly pretending that my Barbie dolls, my cousin, or myself were pregnant and giving birth. Of course, I needed to help deliver the baby.
Unfortunately, the birth of my first child over thirty years ago was filled with trauma and obstetrical violence for both my baby and me. A far cry from the natural birth I had envisioned during pregnancy. During my third pregnancy seven years later, I was with an obstetrical practice that had 19 different doctors within it. The possibility of having a stranger attend my birth was very disconcerting for me. I still remember the relief I felt when the doctor that cared for me during my miscarriage walked into the hospital triage while I was in labor. I had this unconscious, yet strangely palpable thought, "I know him. I can have my baby now." This birth was far better than my first birth but, unfortunately, it was still traumatic in many ways. After her birth, I learned about doulas and the continuity of care that they can provide for families. The concept really intrigued me. I realized that was what I had been subconsciously searching for in my last birth, and that I had already begun informally providing that type of labor support for friends and family. After this birth, I discovered complementary medicine and regained a sense of autonomy regarding my family's and my health.
I will always be grateful to my midwives at Special Beginnings Birth Center for the holistic approach to the maternity care they provided me during my fourth pregnancy. My healing began when my midwife, Suzanne, asked me to tell her about my previous birth experiences. As I shared what happened, she stopped me and said, "Michelle, that must have been so incredibly traumatic for you both." I looked up at her and began crying. No one had ever voiced or acknowledged the trauma and birth violence we had endured. There had never been any thought or discussion beyond the expectation: Healthy mom and healthy baby—goal met. Be grateful. This time my baby and I experienced a beautiful, peaceful birth with the help of my student doula and my midwife, Sandy.
Eighteen months later in 2000, I began my childbirth assistant certification training. Shortly into my career, I had a few doula clients remark during their births, "This was my worst fear realized." I sought for a way to help clients release their fears so that these fears would not manifest during their birthings. I also wanted to be able to provide them with powerful tools to achieve the natural birth they so often desired, and which our female bodies are intrinsically designed to do.
I was already familiar with the power of hypnosis, and I began researching different birth hypnosis methods. I found Winifred Conkling's Hypnosis for a Joyful Pregnancy and Pain-Free Labor and Delivery. This book led me to become certified as a HypnoBirthing® Practitioner in 2003. During the training, I knew deep in my soul that this was I was meant to do. I was then blessed to train as a Hypnobabies® Instructor in 2004 (formerly #12).
My love of hypnosis and the results it can and does achieve drove me to specialize in working with women and families. With first-hand experience regarding the deep and far-reaching impacts of stress, birth trauma, and perinatal loss, my specialization includes, but is not limited to, fertility, stress reduction, childbirth, mothering, grief, as well as helping parents resolve any trauma or post-traumatic stress that may have occurred due to their pregnancy or birthing. I have found resolving birth-related trauma and grief is especially valuable when mothers are planning a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) or are pregnant again after a loss due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion. Over the years, as I worked with couples that had lost previous pregnancies and were now often tentatively celebrating another pregnancy, I understood their mixture of joy and fear. In my sincere desire to more fully support families, I trained in perinatal loss with Stillbirthday University, Resolve Through Sharing Bereavement Services, and The Institute for The Study of Birth, Breath, & Death. I am honored to be a Certified Grief Counseling Specialist, professionally trained Midwife of Thanatology and a certified Stillbirthday Birth & Bereavement Doula.
Over the years as I taught various birth hypnosis programs, I found myself frustrated and restricted in my ability to fully meet the needs of my birthing clients or to create recordings in my own voice for them. This was especially limiting since clients consistently comment upon how relaxing and soothing they find the sound of my voice. This resonance with my voice is incredibly valuable when I attend a birth as a doula. This, in part, lead me to develop my guided relaxation childbirth program, The Birth Ease Method, over fifteen years ago. I am now excited to have trained as a Calm Birth Meditation Instructor in 2020 and offer meditation based childbirth classes.
As I have grown as a birth professional, I have thoughtfully chosen to no longer re-certify or be affiliated with neither the Hypnobabies® Network nor the HypnoBirthing® Institute. Both programs are excellent. I sincerely admire the founder of each method. I am grateful for all they have taught me and all they have done to advance the field of hypnosis and normalize natural birth. I simply chose not to be forced into an alliance with either brand to the exclusion of all others or to teach a particular hypnobirthing philosophy or childbirth hypnosis curriculum. As a birth hypnosis specialist and inclusive independent educator, I cater my instruction and skills to reflect each family I work with. Each class session (whether birth hypnosis based or a Birth Ease Method class) is individualized to meet their unique journey through pregnancy, birth, and into parenthood.
As I have worked individually with hundreds of families over the years, I have found that everyone's life experiences, needs, and situations are unique in their journey to parenthood. Yet, all parents and their babies benefit from stress reduction techniques and relaxation skills. Providing families with the skills that will last them far beyond the birth of their baby is my passion. While The Birth Ease Method can definitely help mothers to achieve a natural, unmedicated birth, if desired; the education, relaxation skills, and prenatal bonding it provides benefits all expectant families. Unlike childbirth hypnosis programs that focus primarily on creating a pain-free birth or for mothers wanting a natural birth, my childbirth course is designed for all parents looking to create a more relaxed pregnancy and gentler birth experience. For families that have or are enduring acute stress, fertility struggles, miscarriage, perinatal loss, a high-risk pregnancy, or a previous traumatic birth experience; the feelings of stress, past painful learning, and/or perceived threat are even more profound. Under these circumstances, it can become more difficult to release stress and return to balance. Regularly eliciting the relaxation response within the mind and body becomes especially valuable to help counteract the effects of stress.
I feel privileged to have helped hundreds of families to transform their stress and fears, to have facilitated over 600 relaxation-assisted childbirth courses, and attend 600+ (and counting) births as a midwifery birth assistant and doula. I am a proud professional member of Evidence-Based Birth, APPPAH—Association of Pre & Perinatal Psychology & Health, Birth Monopoly, The Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, & Death, and International Association of Counselors & Therapists.