Most people have heard about homebirth and midwifery. However, to the majority of Americans, the idea of alternative birth options is a mystical concept. Today’s Inspiring Mom is going to give us a peek inside her world as a doula who also has her own business doing placenta encapsulation. Get ready to be inspired and fascinated!
In 2010, after several years of marriage and four children, Tiffanie and her husband felt like they needed a reset. For some couples this might mean a little home renovation project or a hairstyle change. But for the Marquezes this would mean a BIG life-changing reset. That is how, at age 37, Tiffanie’s husband ended up enlisting in the military! This unpredictable life change is what allowed both of them to pursue their passions and start new career paths. For Tiffanie, her dream was to become a doula.
A couple years later while stationed in Washington Tiffanie had their 5th baby and also began her doula training. She completed her DONA International birth doula training at the Simkin Center at Bastyr University in Kenmore Washington, which she describes as an unforgettable experience. Tiffanie reflects on those days fondly and says “I gleaned so much from the teaching and the campus was incredible. They had a walking garden with healing herbs. The time that I spent there was surreal. I loved it.” She also did training for placenta encapsulation so that she could add that service to her clients. All of this was while her husband was on active duty tour. When he was finished they moved to Denver Colorado and started a whole new life for themselves. The military, the schooling, the moving, it truly was a fresh start!
Then Tiffanie became pregnant with baby number 6. She says “I had a feeling it would be our last and I also had a feeling it would be a different experience. For example, we had a surprise gender for the first time.” Tiffanie wanted the birth to be a whole new experience after all that she now knew about natural birth. Tiffanie invited all of her tight-knit group of friends to participate in their own unique roles in the birth. One friend was serving as doula, one was the photographer and one would watch the kids.
Tiffanie said she was torn about what exactly she wanted in a birth plan. On one hand she loved the idea of having it be like a party surrounded by friends. On the other hand she felt like it would be nice to have a quieter birth with her and the baby all alone. In the end she got both! Her whole team of friends showed up to support her. There were notes and artwork on the walls and worship music playing as she labored in the tub. Then the time came early in the morning where she was instructed to get out of the tub by her midwife who had been listening and monitoring with a doppler. Tiffanie distinctly remembers the comfort she felt as her friend wrapped her in a Guatemalan blanket. Tiffanie left the whole group of supporters by the tub and went into the bathroom where she spontaneously delivered the baby and caught him all alone. Tiffanie describes it as one of the sweetest most precious moments she has ever experienced. Her oldest daughter cut the chord. It was everything she had hoped for and more including the beautiful new baby that she held in her arms. He nursed perfectly and was adored by the whole family. It wasn’t until 3 weeks later that they would learn that he was down syndrome. This of course changed nothing for Tiffanie and the family. He was and is perfect and Tiffanie was grateful that she didn’t have testing or intervention earlier because they were able to bond and have that beautiful beginning that she wouldn’t trade for anything.
After the sixth child Tiffanie took a year off as a doula. It was important for her to be completely available to learn all that she needed to know about her son’s diagnosis. When you are a doula you are on call and you have to be ready at all times and Tiffanie couldn’t commit to that in that season. It was a nice break but then the time came where she was able to go back to the business that she loves.
Tiffanie describes with a deep passion how she feels about being able to be present for births. Having a midwife who was so hands on and present for her is what started her on the path to becoming a doula in the first place.
“Birth can be a very holy and empowering experience and I think that the miseducation in our society has robbed women of that and made it so much more clinical and medical. I am grateful for the compassionate epidural. Sometimes that’s the right thing and sometimes the cesarean is, but many times a woman can have the most beautiful and precious moments of her life when she is empowered to make her own decisions for the birth.”
On top of being a doula Tiffanie also does placenta encapsulation for local mothers. What started as a side business has become one of her favorite parts of serving postpartum women. Tiffanie is almost giddy as she describes the process:
” I think it’s amazing how our bodies grow an organ to help sustain babies life. They are like fingerprints and it facinates me how no two placentas are alike.”
“Most of my placenta encapsulation clients find me via word of mouth”. She shares, “If someone wants to learn about the process then after they have the baby I get a call and arrange to get the placenta at the place of birth. I pick up the placenta and transfer it to her home and do an examination to see how they look. The average size is about 20 oz but I have had them as big as 32 ounces and then also twins.” After she weighs the placenta she proceeds to create a piece of art for the birth family to cherish. That’s right, Tiffanie creates a Placenta print with watercolor paper. It’s something she learned how to do through her training. She says “It’s so cool because it’s art but it’s an individual organ.” She says some clients put it in the baby book, or frame it, or put it in a shadow box. After she creates placenta print then the placenta is thoroughly cleaned and drained of all the blood. Then the placenta is steamed and cut into strips almost like jerky strips and then dehydrated for 10 – 12 hours. The next day once it is completely dehydrated and she put the pieces into a grinder and then fill the capsules. The average placenta usually makes 120 pills. Tiffanie will deliver the pills with the keepsakes and placenta prints within 36 hours. Each placenta is unique so the pills carry varying levels of hormones and iron and b vitamins and all kinds of nutrients. What the birth person needs postpartum is different from person to person. Some will take more pills than others. Most people feel good taking three pills a day. The pills are taken with a meal and not late at night because of the amazing energy boost that they offer. A woman can take up to six a day if they want. Tiffanie consults with each mother to make sure they understand the process and dosing. She also checks in a few days and even a couple of weeks after to make sure the client is doing well and see if they have any questions. It’s an incredible service that she offers and the feedback and testimonials from her clients are proof of that!
Tiffanie loves the field she has chosen and she continues to grow and stretch herself as a doula with more classes and updated training. Her husband is also continuing his education and is currently working on getting his masters degree in clinical counseling with which he will specialize in working with Veterans. As they raise their 6 children they are examples to never let anything stand in the way of your dreams and to always keep learning! Theses children have watched their parents face obstacles, yet stay focused through it all as they continue to challenge themselves and one another. What a gift that is. What an inspiration.