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Meet Ashley Makan of Bodhi Birth and Wellness

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Makan.

Hi Ashley, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Sure! I’m a DONA trained Doula, and a Pre-/Perinatal Educator here in the Upstate. I own Bodhi Birth and Wellness, and I love walking with families through the beautiful transitions of birth and postpartum. My journey in this work began about two years after the birth of my daughter, but there were so many moving pieces that led me to that moment. I had experienced a traumatic pregnancy loss about a decade before her birth, and I was surprised that even after “doing the work,” the trauma followed me into my subsequent pregnancy. I wasn’t willing to address the trauma during pregnancy because my fear of loss was so overwhelming — this is actually a common experience in birth after loss, and I am so proud of the awareness that is now being brought to light on the subject. During my subsequent pregnancy, I over-compensated for my fears through preparation.

I took a comprehensive 6-week Hypnobabies class during my third trimester and was in awe of what my body was capable of and confused about why I hadn’t been previously educated about how my body worked before then. My background was in spa and multi-unit management, so the closest anatomical education I had received was through my work and only related to massage therapy. It wasn’t until I took that Hypnobabies class that I ever heard about doula support.

My daughter’s birth was the most transformative experience of my life. I walked away from the birthing center we attended with newfound awe and fascination for the psychological aspects of the experience. I finally understood the benefit of unattached support during labor, and I voiced that if we ever had another baby, I would hire a doula. My postpartum transition was difficult, as there hadn’t been much preparatory focus or awareness surrounding the paradigm shift that occurs with matrescence. I spent the next two years reading everything I could find on the psychology surrounding pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Two years later my husband commented, “look at your bookshelf. I think you need to do something with this.” So I decided to explore that.

I began with Birth Doula work. I attended a DONA International intensive three-day training, started an additional Birth and Bereavement Doula certification, and after doing a little more research I began serving clients and working toward my certification. A year later, I chose to acknowledge my passion for education and found an intensive Pre-/Perinatal Educator Certification through the Association for Pre-/Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH). I spent the next two years in a deep-dive study of Birth Psychology, and I’m still overflowing with excitement to share the information I learned during that time.

I am in the midst of completing the creation of a comprehensive childbirth education program based on Birth Psychology, mindfulness, and meditation. My hope is to help parents learn about their bodies, their babies, and the psychological aspects of the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences, while guiding them to explore self-regulatory tools that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. Understanding where we come from and how that shapes our realities and the realities of our children, help us to move through birth and postpartum empowered. This sensitive time shapes the rest of our lives, and it’s so beautiful to walk with families as they move through this unique rite of passage.

This year, I have found myself being pulled toward Postpartum Doula support, and I am currently working toward completing my certification through DONA International. I am so excited to be able to offer holistic prenatal and perinatal support to Upstate families and help them create the solid groundwork for the parenthood experience. I look forward to focusing on building more community options for pregnant and postpartum Greenville families in 2022.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
This path has brought so much flow for me. I think working around birth forces you into a flow state. Being on call for births indefinitely, you learn flexibility. Doula work also requires regular self-care and reflection. Creating daily self-care rituals and committing to my own personal growth has helped me grow immensely as a person, a doula, and an entrepreneur. I’m forever grateful for this path.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Bodhi Birth and Wellness?
Bodhi (pronounced “boh-dee”) is the Sanskrit word for “awaken” or “enlighten.” It is said that the Buddha meditated beneath the bodhi tree as he attained enlightenment. My belief is that as we move through birth and postpartum, we awaken into a new consciousness — that of parenthood. Birth becomes a hinge moment in our lives, connecting who we are now to who we will become.

I created Bodhi Birth and Wellness with the intention of honoring this sensitive time and exploring this rite of passage with other families. I specialize in Birth Psychology with a focus on trauma-informed support from pregnancy through postpartum, and I believe unbiased education and support are integral to a positive experience. I’m passionate about this transition and am proud to bring more awareness of this sensitive time and the possibilities it holds for our world.

I’m formally launching my childbirth education course, Mind Body Birth, on December 30th, and I’ve never worked so hard on a project or been so proud and excited to share. There will be both in-person and online options so that everyone can move through the information in the best way for their lifestyle. Follow me on social media for launch giveaways and important news surrounding the launch!

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
There is a huge misconception that doulas hold babies all day, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. We hold the parents. Yes, we get an opportunity on rare occasions for baby snuggles, but this work is about helping parents find their power and confidence in parenthood through this rite of passage.

If you’re interested in this work, consider that you need consistent childcare and a continued commitment to personal growth. We have to do our work in order to do this sacred work — and if we don’t we can inadvertently cause harm. If you’re not sure where to begin, I highly recommend a DONA International Birth or Postpartum Doula training. It’s a great way to crash course into the process of becoming a doula and dip your toe into the reality of this work.

But it doesn’t end there… Plan to continuously educate yourself. As doulas, we must be up-to-date on evidence-based and trauma-informed practices in order to best serve our clients. We don’t currently have overseeing licensure, so it is important that we hold ourselves to the highest standards.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Angelique L’Allier with Upstate Birth Photographer www.instagram.com/upstatebirthphotographer and Sarah Yarbrough with Sarah E Photography www.sarahephotographyllc.com

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