We had the good fortune of connecting with Maria Pasquarelli and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Maria, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?

Well, I am a postpartum doula and so many people think all doulas do birth. There are, actually, several types of doulas that exist, but most people automatically think, “oh, you do birth!” I actually do not do birth. My work, as a doula takes place, mostly, after a new baby has come home. So, while I will meet with clients before baby comes and we will talk about birth and prepare for the baby’s arrival and talk about recovery if there is a birthing parent, my work is focused on everyone getting adjusted to life with a new family member! If anyone is interested, there are actually doulas who do birth, postpartum, loss (which includes abortion support), and there are even doulas who focus on end of life. A doula is really a support person and our work is often tailored to each individual client/family!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

I think a few things really set me apart/help me as a doula. First of all, I was an actor before I was a doula, so I am just good with people. I understand people. I am curious about people and want to learn about their lives, needs, wants, etc. I think this also makes it easy for people to talk to me and share with me, which is a huge part of the job. Second, I have two kids and have had two very different birth experiences. So, I get it. I have been there. It’s a HUGE transition – each kid is a huge transition. Parents really need support and need to know that they are capable of taking care of their babies. They need their confidence boosted, they need time to heal and recover, they need food and rest. I often just think about all of the things I loved that people did for me or what I wished I would have had and do that for my clients! And Third, the role of a doula is, in large part, a teacher. We inform our clients. We provide evidence-based information so parents can make informed decisions for their families. I have taught for much of my adult life and it’s a role that I really love. Education is empowerment and I love to give that to my clients. Like many birth workers I have met, I came into this work by becoming a mother. After my first child, I was obsessed with lactation and decided to work towards becoming a lactation consultant (which I am still working towards). After my second child, I stumbled upon a website about DONA Postpartum Doula training and thought to myself, “Oh wow, I really wish I would have had a postpartum doula after the birth of my second child.” I just needed some extra love and support. And, my friends are amazing, but I found that, after the second child, it seems people just think, “They already have a kid, they totally get it. It’s all good, they’re doing great, they don’t need us anymore.” In fact, parents ALWAYS need extra help and support! And each kid adds another whole layer of support that they can use. So, it was hard. That second postpartum period was so much harder than the first one for me, and I think, my husband. But, through that challenge/strife/difficulty, I found the postpartum doula training and felt like it was a calling. In addition to my work as a postpartum doula, I offer cloth diapering workshops and consultations, I offer baby registry consultations and I recently became a Certified Lactation Educator!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I LOVE when people come to visit me in LA, especially if they’ve never been to LA! I would love to wake up and drive up the coast with friends. There’s this place in the Palisades that has the most amazing breakfast burritos! So, we would have to stop for one of those, then maybe check out the Getty Villa, hit a beach (my favorite beaches are Venice (if you wanna stay in LA), and then Zuma (if you’re gonna be in Malibu!), hop over to Neptune’s Net for a late lunch and a cold beer, then drive back down to check out the Venice Boardwalk for the sunset and maybe head down to Abbot’s Pizza for dinner. (That’s a pretty big day!) The next day, I’d love to hike – if they are big hikers, I’d head into the San Gabriels, but if they are beginners, I think we’d head to Griffith Park, (but first, another breakfast burrito at Tacos Villa Corona in Atwater – can you tell I like breakfast burritos?), maybe ride horses in the park, hit up the whole Hollywood glitz and glam – I mean, you GOTTA do Hollywood and Highland and stick your hands into those hand prints if you’ve never done it before. Head into Glendale to my favorite Ramen place for dinner (Menya Tatsujin Ramen). Other favorites: The main Getty, LACMA, the Norton Simon Museum, the LA Zoo, Osen Izakaya for sushi, The Pub at Golden Road, Hot Pot in the San Gabriel Valley, the downtown LA tour (Little Tokyo, Chinatown, the Arts District, The Bradbury Building). and in the summer, the pool at the Hansen Dam Aquatic Center! I’m sure I’m forgetting something!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow! So many people have supported me and led me to this point in my life/career. Kathrin Auger was my doula trainer and she is so inspiring. I remember going into the training thinking, “Well, I can do this training and then just see what happens. I don’t think I’m going to jump into this career right away.” And by the time I left, I was ready to start immediately! The amazing doulas I met in my training continue to support and inspire me, in addition to the doulas and birth workers I have met at Bini Birth in Sherman Oaks – that’s where I did my training and met SO many wonderful, kind, supportive, encouraging birth workers! It’s really a beautiful community! And, of course, there’s my husband. He is SO supportive. I mean, I decided to do a career change when we had two small children and I was pushing 40! I am still continuing to learn, take workshops, work nights, etc and he is fully supportive. In fact, he is almost as excited as I am about the work and the new career path and you really can’t beat that in a partner!

Instagram: @mariapdoula

Facebook: @mariapdoula

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