Wild + Wise: Brittany McCollum
This Mother's Day, we're celebrating all of the amazing women in our lives with profiles of six women who have inspired us. The group includes Brittany McCollum, a doula and childbirth educator in Philadelphia. Read on for her story, and find all of our Wild + Wise profiles here.
Following the birth of her first child, Brittany McCollum felt inspired to help other moms have positive, informed birth experiences. She says, “My oldest son is ten and a half, and I became a childbirth educator and doula after he was born. I took a childbirth class when I was already 38 weeks pregnant, so I received the information when it was too late to be useful. My goal is to help other women have more empowering experiences.”
Brittany majored in liberal arts in college, so she wasn't involved in any kind of medical field. She says that she always had a “feminist drive," but before the birth of her son she didn’t see how important it was for expectant moms to understand that they can shape their own experiences. She credits Beth Goldberg, the midwife and doula trainer whose class she took, with inspiring and encouraging her to pursue childbirth education. Today, she teaches classes across Philadelphia, and serves as a doula for a few clients each year.
For Brittany, the most rewarding part of her work is when her clients realize that they have a say in how their birth goes. She says, “It’s so rewarding for me and empowering for them when they realize that they have options – things aren’t always black and white! The purpose of my classes is not to tell someone how to give birth, but to provide them with knowledge and resources on how to communicate with their care providers. These moms are able to come out of their birth experience feeling positive, which in turn has such an impact on their postpartum experience, too.”
Brittany also focuses on the physical aspects of giving birth. She trains other doulas, midwives, doctors, and nurses in pelvic bodywork techniques, which can create more space for the baby to move and help to resolve fetal position complications that come up during labor. She says, “People don’t realize how much impact they can have on how efficiently labor progresses, which is really empowering!”
Now a mother of three, Brittany’s work has changed her outlook on motherhood. “When I had my first son, I had really strong ideas about what was important for me as a mom. I was very hard on myself as a parent and that was probably hard on my husband and son, too! Over time, I've learned to be less judgmental of myself and my parenting, which is so important for new moms."
"The more work I’ve done in childbirth education, the more I realize that there isn’t one right way to do things. What’s important is using as much knowledge as possible, being flexible, and doing the best you can for the situation you’re in."
Who inspires you?
"I'm inspired by my mom, because she encouraged me to do anything! When I told my parents that I wanted to work as a childbirth educator, they were surprised but also incredibly supportive. Without that support, I might have been fearful about jumping into something new and starting my own business. My mom always encouraged me when I wanted to go against the grain, which also impacts what I do today. My classes aren’t conformist – they encourage people to be informed and shape their own experiences, and that comes from my upbringing."
Photography Credits: Tammy Bradshaw Photography.
Find all of our Wild + Wise stories here, or tell us about the Wild + Wise women in your life on Instagram! Tag your photos of them #terrainwildandwise, and we'll celebrate them and all of you by sharing a few favorites on Mother’s Day.
Advice I always give and can't figure out why more woman don't embrace it is the lift I read about in Janie McCoy King's book, "Back Labor No More." It's priceless, I did it with my second and third birthing experiences and wish I had known more about getting my first one in the right position to take advantage of the lift. I do hope you are highly recommending women to read about it. Happy, healthy birthing!