A new downtown Camas business is helping families navigate one of the sweetest, but often most challenging, stages of parenthood — those first few months with a new baby.
“Have you thought about why having a new baby is so hard?” asks Bryna Sampey, owner, lead lactation consultant and birth doula at Doula My Soul LLC, a birth- and lactation-support business that recently moved into Camas’ Peace Yourself Together Wellness Center at 506 N.E. Everett St. “No sleep, little opportunity to eat, figuring out what baby’s needs are, and having very little previous experience, despite reading all the books … it can be a really overwhelming time.”
That’s where Sampey and her team of birth and postpartum doulas and lactation consultants come in.
“You are so vulnerable in that early parenting journey. And it can be hard to find support,” Sampey says. “We have a very client-first model. Our intakes are long. We get a feel for your nutrition, lifestyle, your support network. We love to watch parents becoming parents. Parenting is not new, but no one has done it like you will.”
Sampey and her husband, Josh, began their own parenting journey in 2006, with the birth of their eldest child, Maia. Today, the couple, who moved to Camas in 2009 from California’s Monterey Peninsula, are the parents of four children — Maia, 12; River, 9; Marek, 6; and Lachlan, 2 — and one Portuguese water dog, “Amelia Earhart.”
Becoming a mother introduced Sampey to the world of birth professionals including doulas, who assist families during and after childbirth, and lactation consultants, who support breastfeeding.
A scientist at her core, Sampey is interested in the research behind evidence-based birth and breastfeeding care. She began working in the birth field in 2006, under the direction of her mentor, Sonja Massey, a nurse and lactation consultant, who taught Sampey how to best support families in birth and breastfeeding.
Since then, Sampey has continued her studies, working with more than 3,000 families, specializing her doula services for families facing high-risk or cesarean births, becoming an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 2010, speaking about lactation and infant reflexes to groups throughout the United States and internationally, working as a parent educator at Legacy Salmon Creek and opening Doula My Soul to help families through the childbirth and postpartum stages of life.
Moving her business to Camas means Sampey will have more time in the town she calls home.
“I love being a part of the downtown Camas community,” Sampey says. “They do such a great job on the First Friday events.”
Sampey joined the First Friday fun in November, making “onesies pies” — coiled onesies in pie dishes — to give to new families, in keeping with the November First Friday’s pie theme.
Being a part of the Camas-Washougal community is important to Sampey, who will offer office visits at her Camas location for lactation support, belly binding, baby weight checks, prenatal doula care appointments and parent classes.
Doula My Soul will offer a free, monthly “Nursing Parents’ Circle” for new parents to socialize and get expert answers if they have questions about breastfeeding or new parenting skills. The group meets from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on the first Sunday of the month, at the Camas location.
Sampey says she and her Doula My Soul staff feel very strongly that families need to be supported in an inclusive way free of fear and judgment, to allow them to make the most informed choices for their birth, child-feeding and parenting journeys.
“Too often, families only hear a flattened message about things like birth and breastfeeding, which only offers a few choices,” Sampey says. “In reality, there are a million ways to parent well.”
To learn more about Doula My Soul, visit doulamysoul.com, drop by the office at 506 N.E. Everett St., Camas, during the week to pick up a brochure, or find the business on Facebook at facebook.com/DoulaMySoul/.