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Meet Heather McCullough, CPM of 312Doulas & HMBirth in Chicagoland

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather McCullough, CPM.

Heather, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As I grew up in North Dakota, my understanding of birth was that everyone would have cesarean birth. I went to the University of Wisconsin with the plan of becoming an obstetrician, and in a warped feminist idea, that I would give everyone a cesarean birth. I thought the biggest challenge families faced was the scheduling – birth having a 6 week window – how were women able to plan their work-life balance?

While at university, a dear friend of mine invited me to be her support person for her birth. We attended her childbirth classes, and then one day she went into labor – and had an amazing 6-hour unmedicated birth! I was amazed! I had no idea it could be so powerful and wonderful. She felt so incredible, and I had learned that birth can be a transformative experience.

Transformative for myself also – I moved to Portland, Oregon to attend on of the top midwifery colleges in the country, where most of my courses were taught by the midwives who wrote the textbooks.

While going to midwifery school, I became a labor support doula, and helped 170 women give birth in area hospitals. I was also apprenticing with two midwives in their homebirth practice. What was so eye-opening was their clientele – many were having “full quiver families” which means as many babies as they can. I think the highest family number I was honored to see was #16. I didn’t know it was even possible! Yet with amazing midwifery care, moms and babies were healthy and happy.

I became a Certified Professional Midwife, and practiced at home and at a very busy birth center – Andaluz Waterbirth Center. My cesarean rate was 5%, and a majority of the babies born there were caught by the parents, and most were born in water.

My family brought me back to the Midwest, and I fell in love in Chicago. Now I find myself in a state that, as of this moment, does not offer a license for Certified Professional Midwives, unlike 33 other states.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
As a midwife with nearly 10 years of education and more than 20 years of experience, transitioning to the role of a doula, which only requires 2 days of training, required a great deal of navigation and nuance. How do a create a role between these two worlds that supports my clients, yet also keeps me engaged and excited every day?

With a full system of support that involves 2-hour prenatals, classes that are incorporated into our care, and the tools of Spinning Babies® and optimal fetal positioning, we have really created a pathway for ourselves and our clients of incredibly support, knowledge, and confidence.

The challenge has been in the creation and implementation of a complex system that supports our clients, provides exemplary care, and creates a unique sense of empowerment and self-advocacy in birthing families where THEY become the experts.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the 312Doulas & HMBirth story. Tell us more about the business.
312Doulas, Heather and Victoria, are known for providing the most evidence-based information, real pain relief tools, and advanced birth knowlege that helps baby’s come out. As one midwife says, “they are the doulas that DO things.” We often say that our clients will have “tried all the ‘things’” with no stone left unturned to help their babies be born. Our tool chest is deep, and the ways that we support our clients are both individualized and insightful to just what is needed for this mama and baby.

HMBirth focuses on classes, trainings, and education of doulas, lactation educators, nurses, midwives and OBs in the advanced tools surrounding physiologic birth. HMBirth also offers online courses for childbirth education, turning breech babies, VBAC, and many others.

Over 25 years of experience and more than 1,800 births create a wealth of knowledge from which our clients can be lifted by, and we share with the birth community.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I was a midwife in Portland, OR which was absolutely incredible! Birth culture on the West Coast was so dynamic and supportive. There are so many amazing midwives and doulas in the area to choose from.

Moving to Chicago was a unique boost to my business, in that I was able to bring something rare and special to the area. Doulas and midwives were (are) rare compared to other communities. We’re seeing a huge growth currently in both midwives and doulas, but the burn out rate is very high after 2-3 years, so finding experienced doulas can be challenging. We’ve created a wonderful niche of experience, education, and support in a community that is in need of our care and has really provided amazing soil for our business to flourish.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Maggie Cuprisin

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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