Today is a special day for me. I am so excited and honored to be here today, interviewing an amazing young lady who has defied all odds on her journey to becoming a successful business owner and doula! I'm here with September Phillips, owner of Not Just Nine Birth Services. September is a 20-something year old doula and childbirth educator who began this journey just one year ago. She has zoomed past all expectations and is on her way to setting presidencies for the rest of our profession. I'm so excited to be interviewing her today and talking about what makes her, her!
Hi September. I'm so glad you are with me here today. How are you doing?
I’m doing great! It was a warm and beautiful weekend in Louisville, but the week has been chillier which means I have every reason to hunker down and get some behind the scenes doula work done!
Good time for crappy weather I suppose. Your new blog challenge, the World Doula Week Blog Challenge, has really stirred up a lot of great discussion in the doula world. How did you come up with this idea?
When I was thinking of what I wanted to do for World Doula Week, I thought of releasing a blog every week that gave a little more info about doulas in general or about me as a doula. Then I figured, why not get other people in on the action? Different doulas can have such varied ideas about what a doula is or any of the other prompts. I thought this was a good way to collect everything in one place for people around the world interested in doula support.
That's great; sort-of ingenious of you actually. You are a newer doula, yes? When did you begin your journey into the birth world? Was there something that you say drove you into this profession?
I started my doula journey in 2014, so I’ve been doing this for about a year now. I initially was interested in doula work as a way to earn experience and a living before starting nursing and nurse midwifery school. The more I learned and got involved in the profession, though, the more I saw it as a calling in itself rather than just a stepping stone.
I still want to go to nursing school and become a midwife someday, because I love learning and have an interest in the medical provider side of childbirth and women’s health, but I’m not in any rush. The emotional and physical support and the educational side that comes with being a doula is amazing on its own. I love providing clients with the tools and support that they need to have the birth and postpartum experience that they want.
How would your best friend describe you?
My best friend and I are more like sisters than friends. She’d describe me as the “nice” friend, because I always try to see the best in people. I’m the youngest by at least a few months of my friends (which mattered more when they were turning 18 and 21 before me but less now that we’re past those milestones), so she would likely call me the “baby” of our friend group.
I’m also ridiculously messy in some ways, but insanely organized in others. I am a planner and like to make lists. I did more of my best friend’s wedding planner as her maid of honor than she did (which she was very happy about since she just wanted to show up and marry her fiancé).
She would probably also call me a nerd, because I love learning and know a lot about childbirth and women’s health as well as a lot of random other subjects. I’m really good at trivia, if that’s any indication of that. I have a bad habit of correcting people. I also have what some would call an unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.
Finally, I think she would say that I’m passionate. When I care about something, I care about it fully. I truly care about everyone being treated fairly and having their voice heard. I care about women knowing what’s going on with their bodies and having all the information they need to make informed choices. I care about people and have a tendency to cry easily about things that don’t affect me at all. I’m opinionated and don’t like being wrong, but will grudgingly admit when I am.
(Shot her a text and she thinks all of this is accurate)
What type of music do you listen to?
Everything. Seriously. Any time I think I don’t like a genre, I hear a song in that genre that I love. I particularly like country, rap, and the punk pop music that reminds me of high school. My current favorites are probably Kendrick Lamar’s new album, Sam Hunt’s song “Take Your Time”, anything bluegrass, and everything by Say Anything and Twenty One Pilots.
Is there any one person who has really influenced you or encouraged you on this journey?
I know a lot of doulas will say this, but Randy Patterson of Northeast Doulas and ProDoula, without a doubt. That woman is full of inspiration. Her passion reminded me that it’s okay to being strong and opinionated even in a caring profession and that part of empowering women is feeling empowered to value my own worth.
What do you think are the biggest struggles modern day doulas face?
I think the biggest issue is the prevalence of the idea that a doula has to be free or cheap or she’s in it “just for the money”. It really sickens me that this classist attitude that you have to be free of the need for income to be a good doula.
This is closely followed by the stereotypes commonly held by doulas, and that a lot of people still don’t even know what a doula is.
If you could give advice to aspiring doulas, what would it be?
Value yourself and treat this like the job and business that this is. Make your business work around what you want in your life, not vice versa. If more experienced doulas encourage you to give your services away for free, that says nothing about your value, but everything about theirs.
If you could give one piece of advice to a newly pregnant woman what would it be?
Remember that you have choices! If you aren’t making them, someone will be making them for you. I know some women just want to get in and out and have their baby in their arms, so they need to make sure that they have a medical and support team that they trust.
A woman more inclined to want to make informed choices should seek out a doula (if she wants one) and unbiased childbirth education classes or material.
What is your favorite part of being a doula?
I’m actually surprised by how much I enjoy the business side of being a doula. I think feeling empowered as a young business owner when most of my peers are still in college, grad school, or just starting careers helps me to feel empowered and confident and to pass that feeling on to my clients.
Using less than 20 words, how would you describe what a doula does?
Provides emotional, physical, and educational support to growing families in a professional and compassionate way, without bias or an agenda.
September, thank you so much for taking the time today to speak with me. It's obvious to me that you are a devoted doula who has a full career ahead. Thank you for all the work you do for women, families, and birth professionals!