Natural Birth Project

Practitioner Spotlight-Jo Kilburn Doula, Childbirth Educator and Coordinator for the BOLD Red Tent Event

Sep. 2, 2009

Jo Kilburn

NBP: What is your relationship to birth?

Jo: Since giving birth to my daughters at home in my early 20’s, I have known that being involved with, supporting and educating birth was going to be a very passionate topic for me. I started attending homebirths as a birth coach and “gopher” to the midwives and families. In my role as, “go for this and go for that”, I attended 12 homebirths by the time my daughter was 2 yrs. old. Through out the evolution of my life I have been involved with women birthing their babies.

NBP: What is a Doula? And what inspired you to do the work you do?

Jo: A doula is a woman who has empathy and respect for women and families. Her role extends to those who are pregnant and preparing for the journey of labor and delivery. She is also a woman who has time and energy to spare for those women who need her support. My inspiration came from making the choice of having my two children in the warmth and safety of my home. Teaching me that birthing a child onto this planet is the most awe-inspiring commitment that any one human can share with another. Birth is a natural physiological process that the female body has the gift of giving.

BP: How does your work relate to conception, pregnancy and birth?

Jo: The joy of conceiving a child with the one you adore allows you to approach your pregnancy and birthing experience with trust for the potential of your body and your growing baby. Helping to educate families, guiding them to the potential of their own abilities of being healthy of body, mind and spirit during their conception and pregnancy is a focus I have in relating to all women. My work as a doula and childbirth educator gives me the opportunity to share with woman and their partners the inner strength they all have in their hearts that will enhance their ability to labor with a relaxed and trusting mind.

NBP: What is the most important thing a pregnant woman or a woman trying to conceive should know about her body and giving birth based on your personal and professional experience?

Jo: The woman should consciously begin to prepare her body for the growth of her baby at conception. Being aware of bad habits and have the determination to eliminate them from both her body and her mind. Don’t give into pressure from ANYONE. Trust in your own strengths and abilities to know what is best for your body and your baby. Because you do!

NBP: What is your biggest obstacle in supporting pregnant women?

Jo: The # 1 biggest obstacle, is woman feeling that they are inadequate or not strong enough. Ina May’s lament, “Your body is not a lemon” is a very strong message. Women will give away their power of self to their families and doctors resigning themselves that someone else knows best for them.
The # 2 biggest obstacles are our medical hospitals and professionals making laboring women feel like they are in a life and death struggle during labor.

NBP: Tell me your best success story.

Jo: Gosh, there are so many beautiful success stories. My first catch was in a local hospital. Mother birthing second baby, sitting up, with sheet draped over her legs. Her eyes got big and she said “something is happening.” Her baby was beginning to crown. The nurse ran out of the room to get the doctor. I saw the baby was gently easing her way out, so I put my hand down to support its head. Warm amniotic fluid washed over my hand, as she slipped onto the bed, between her mother’s legs, making little squeaks and calmly looking around. It’s a miracle to watch babies so gently come into our world.

NBP: What is the San Diego Birth Network, their mission and work in San Diego?

Jo: I first joined Birth Resource Network 5 years ago in the desire to be connected with other doulas. It has since grown into San Diego Birth Network, which is a large group of natural birth advocates. Our mission has always been to bring local resources to the expectant and new family. Now with our new website, families can find information on doulas, postpartum support, lactation educators and the list goes on.

NBP: What is the BOLD Red Tent? How long have you been hosting it and what inspired you to put it on?

Jo: A red tent is where mother’s voices are allowed to be heard in a safe and sacred environment. The Bold Action organizations concept is to gather woman under a “red tent”, listen to mothers’ birth stories and then record their stories in film or written word and be archived in the BOLD Library of Birth Truths.
SDBN has hosted this event three times. We were inspired, by offering a safe place where woman in San Diego county could come together for a few hours and share their stories, tears and laughter with other woman and mothers who were there for the same reason.

Thank you Jo, for your kindness, warmth and passion. We are blessed to collaborate with you and can’t wait to see you in Birth, the play!