Eastside Memorial ECHS senior Elizabeth Reyna recently achieved something that possibly no other Austin ISD student has done while still in school—she became a registered doula.
And as a doula, that meant that on a recent early morning at Seton Main Hospital, Reyna assisted in the birth of a newborn, being present and supportive to the new mother.
“I feel very happy to support new mothers as they give birth to their baby,” Reyna said in an email. “I feel that I have been able to help the mom by helping to reduce her stress level and make the birth less painful.”
Reyna enrolled in the health science program during her freshman year at Eastside Memorial Early College High School with the intention of becoming a midwife.
Dr. Sanford Jeames, coordinator of the health science program, began to help Reyna during her junior year to find a doula training program that would be open to high school students.
They soon found the Healing Hands Doula Project through former Eastside Memorial teacher Darline Turner. Turner’s community-based organization had been recognized in Austin and Central Texas for their efforts to provide education and training to recruit more doulas of color.
Jeames said he was excited to have Turner’s support and the support of the Healing Hands Doula Project.
“I am especially proud of Elizabeth for staying focused on her goals she expressed since she was a freshman student in our health science program,” he said.
Reyna enrolled in the training program during the summer and fall of 2019, and got hands-on training, including classes on breastfeeding, vaginal births, Cesarean section births, prenatal care and postpartum care of newborns.
“I feel that I have been able to set an example for other students who are interested in becoming a midwife,” she said. “Being a doula has been a good first step for me.”
A doula is a health care professional who provides comfort and assistance to new mothers during childbirth. The doula is a partner for women seeking support during a more natural childbirth experience. Doulas also provide education and support to new mothers and family after the birth of the child.
A midwife is a healthcare provider who can perform examinations, make diagnoses and prescribe treatments and medications related to women’s health and childbearing, and who can deliver babies.
After graduating this May, Reyna said she plans to enroll in the registered nursing program at Austin Community College in preparation to become a registered midwife.