Today we’d like to introduce you to Kiersten Markham.
Kiersten, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In college, I studied abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand with an NGO called Food for the Hungry. There were 5 of us students from different Universities gathering together to study human trafficking and the marginalization of the Mekong Region. This experience was life-changing (to say the least) in many ways. I was 21 and truly wanted to make the world a better place. But, when you’re studying something as dark as human trafficking, it’s difficult to feel hopeful. I knew there had to be someplace we could start… a beginning.
While I was in Thailand I heard about labor doulas. My interest was peaked as I’ve always been passionate about working with babies and women. However, when I returned to Chicago I was focused on finishing my degree in Cultural Studies, so the idea of becoming a doula wasn’t something on my radar. There were little nudges in that direction though, such as the documentary, Business of Being Born by Ricki Lake. That documentary really got me fired up about maternity care in the United States.
My boyfriend (now husband) and I made our way out to San Diego after I graduated. I was nannying and looking for a full-time job when the word doula popped up again and this inkling to look into becoming certified became more than just an inkling. In September 2011 I took my doula training with DONA and became certified a year later. I felt like everything in my life led me to that moment. When I look back my road to becoming a doula and supporting families it didn’t begin in Thailand, it began when I was in my own mother’s womb. Doing this work is within me, heart and soul.
I continued to support families prenatally and postpartum and came upon the work of APPPAH (Association of Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health). I learned about birth imprinting and how our own conception journey and womb experience shapes who we are for the rest of our lives. While we may not cognitively remember our experience, we can somatically. This was the beginning I was searching for in Thailand. How a mother is supported, or not supported, in her pregnancy and labor is how her child will view the world. If we want to have a positive impact we must start at birth… and really even before that, at pre-conception.
I completed my Pre- and Perinatal Educator Certificate in May of last year and began holding Conscious Conception Circles for women, so that they have the resources and support during one of the most important times in their life and their baby’s life. After having my son two years ago I slowed down on doula work and supported women postpartum by helping them heal their bodies through movement. As I look back on my journey over the past 6 years I’ve realized that a new way of supporting families always comes to me every two years. I’m now on my journey to become a Craniosacral Therapist.
Craniosacral Therapy is tying all of my knowledge and experiences into one offering. I’m able to use all of my skills to support families as a whole. Because it’s not just about the baby’s experience, or the mother’s, it’s about the entire families separately and together.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I have to say that for the most part, it’s been a smooth road. Experiences would come at the exact moment I needed to learn and grow and I always saw them as opportunities. On a personal level, there was a lot of growth that happened in the first couple years as a doula. I knew it was important to connect with my own birth story so that I could differentiate my own experience from the families I worked with. Sometimes things would feel really difficult as I began to process my own “stuff.”
For instance, I attended a birth early on that was very similar to my own birth story. I didn’t quite understand why I would feel so emotionally wrecked whenever I saw a mother and baby separated shortly after birth. It wasn’t until I found out that I was separated from my mom for the first 24 hours that things started to click. After I made this connection, it was easier to support births where there was a separation. It may have felt like my story, but it wasn’t. To truly stay present to their unique experience I needed to be able to recognize what was going on within my own system.
Often times it’s in the struggle where we learn the most. While the processing of my experiences felt difficult at the time, it served a great purpose. Now that I’m on my path to becoming a Craniosacral Therapist I know there will be more layers of growth and I’m welcoming it.
Kiersten Markham – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I’m a Birth Doula, Postpartum Movement Specialist, Pre- and Perinatal Educator, & currently training to become a Craniosacral Therapist. I specialize in supporting families pre-conception through the first year postpartum. I primarily work with women, but love when I have the opportunity to work with the family as a whole.
I love that I can offer services that support women during every stage of their motherhood journey. These services are a culmination of everything I have learned. The transition into motherhood varies from person to person and I strive to create fluidity in the services I offer to meet the unique needs of the individual. I often feel like a chameleon, adapting to whatever the mother or family needs in the moment.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I have to say that I’m most proud of the connections I’ve made and maintained with the women I’ve worked with. Becoming a mother is an intimate and very personal experience, sharing in part of a woman’s journey is a privilege I will always be proud of.
- Address: 3355 4th Ave. San Diego, CA 92103
- Website: www.KierstenMarkham.com
- Phone: 7085606365
- Email: KierstenMarkham@gmail.com
- Instagram: Kiersten.Markham
Thoughts By B