Doulas of Capitol Hill loves working alongside nurses! Not only are they there to make sure you and your baby are safe, they are an integral part of your birth team for both physical and mental support. In celebration of Nurse's Week, today we feature Lisa-Marie Cook BSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, ICCE, CD, CEO. Lisa-Marie  is the CEO of Birthing Basics, LLC providing evidence-based childbirth education to women desiring natural childbirth and those experiencing a high-risk pregnancy. She is a Labor and Delivery Nurse with more than 30-years of experience working at various hospitals and Birthing Centers in the Washington DC area. Her work at INOVA Fairfax, INOVA Alexandria, and the George Washington University Hospital have provided many opportunities working with both midwife-attended natural births and physician-attended high-risk births.

What led you to this career?

I initially majored in biomedical chemistry with plans to become a physician. That dream ended when I realized that I was pregnant my junior year in college. I switched my major to nursing with hopes to continue my education after my child grew up. Once I had my second child and began my nursing career in the hospital, I found my calling and never looked back.

What do you enjoy most about work?

Perinatal nursing has become so specialized. I love my field of care and my biggest thrill is sharing my knowledge as both nurse and doula with the new graduate nurses on our unit. The best part about work is celebrating the birth of the newest human into the world and watching the faces of women as they embrace the child they’ve been waiting for. I am a total birth junkie and I have no qualms sharing that fact with the world. Being able to advocate for women and making them feel heard is empowering for them as my patient, but for me too, as their caregiver.

If you are a parent, how was your birth and postpartum?

I loved my birth experience. I took Lamaze classes in 1986 and was able to have an unmedicated birth for both my daughter, Angela, in 1986 and my daughter, Karissa, in 1988. There are no words to describe the moment each of my beautiful daughters were placed into my arms. As a nurse, “that moment” is one I so desperately attempt to capture and hold. We discuss “that moment” in my childbirth classes, I try to help women recognize the enormity of the miracle that they birth. It’s what I live for…

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As far as my postpartum experience went, no one told me how difficult it could be. Being a young mother still in college, I had to use every resource I could. I was a WIC mom. I was a Community Healthcare Clinic mom. I was that young mother who wanted to keep her babies. It wasn’t easy, but it colored my life and helped me recognize how vital maternity care and childbirth education is for women and their partners.

What resources would you want parents to have?

In my perfect world, every parent would have access to healthcare, Childbirth classes, Newborn care classes, Doulas, Midwives, Obstetricians, Pediatricians, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists, Lactation Consultants, Breastfeeding support groups, Parenting classes,Counselors, and community support groups during the prenatal period as well as during the postpartum period. All the resources that they need for the best birth outcome and the resources they need to give that baby a great start to their future.

What is one unique thing about your business that your customers/clients love?

I provide a balanced philosophy of childbirth and I can provide statistics to back my evidence. They don’t have to “Dr. Google” anything. I get a lot of positive feedback after their birth experience, that learning about the anatomy and physiology of birth helped them understand when interventions became necessary. The “I WANT A NATURAL CHILDBIRTH” women thrill me when I feel like I gave them tools necessary for achieving that goal. I so love those “Ah-HA!” looks of wonder when comprehension dawns in their eyes.

What's one thing you think the world needs to do to improve the lives of new parents (or people living in our service area)?

Our women here in the DC area have some of the highest rates for maternal morbidity and mortality in the United States due to many factors. Women are coming into the hospitals with chronic diseases and co-morbidities that put them at higher risk. Many have limited support systems during pregnancy. We have women with families that are homeless, more women are going without prenatal care. We have a fragmented health care system where women receive inadequate prenatal care and show up at any hospital. It can take longer to get necessary records or we find that they have none. People are falling through the cracks. Recently, the closure of Providence Hospital and United Medical Center’s Labor and Delivery Units has significantly altered the care that all hospitals in-city have been able to provide. I’m not sure how our government can allow for hospitals to close maternity wards without recognizing the impact that it has on an entire community. Better health care. Period.

What do you think is the hardest part of expecting baby or becoming a parent?

I recently found out that I will be a grandmother in October! It’s giving me an entirely different perspective on pregnancy because of this little grandchild. I’m excited, but concerned. Our pregnant women are more anxious than I’ve ever seen in the past. I never understood why, until now.I’m beginning to realize what my daughter is faced with as she deals with issues like affordable childcare, risks for autism, and finding caregivers who are willing to be non-interventional. Big questions like, “What are my risks for cesarean?” become a reality. I don’t remember having to worry about anything other than “will I have to get an epidural?” Women want to be well-informed about every aspect of birth, sometimes it’s the very thing that causes them the most anxiety.

What products or services do you personally love?

Michele Peterson turned me on to “Earth Mama Organics’ Perineal Balm for Pregnancy and Postpartum” to “Take Care Down There.” Ursula Subinik’s Essential Oils are a treat every time I walk into a room she’s in. The girl exudes lavender and clary sage like it’s part of her being and her arnica oil has been nice to discover. Elizabeth Oldham and her entire birth support entourage have demonstrated the knowledge found through communication within a birth workers’ community. The doulas in our area are far wiser and supported than they ever have been because of these women. Can’t leave out Gail Tully’s “Spinning Babies”, she’s my “She-ro” on a daily basis.

How do you start each day?

With prayer. I ask God to help me through my day to give me the wisdom I need to care for each life I touch. I believe that my work is my ministry.

What's your favorite thing to do in DC?

I love walking from Arlington Cemetery across Memorial Bridge to the Tidal Basin. It inspires me to know that I’m in the heart of my Nation’s capital. Penny Simkin told me, “Lisa-Marie, you are in our Nation’s Capitol. You don’t have to take a flight to make your voice heard. You are there. Make a difference.” I hope I can make my world a better place one birth at a time. Hear my voice, “Let’s Birth Better!”

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