Meet A Member: Amber Matteson

Written by Lisa Huffman w/ Amber Matteson

22nd May 2023

To be honest, when Amber Matteson of Intimate Connections Doula joined our Workspace@Shipyard community, I was intrigued as to why a doula would choose this space. But, the bigger question that came to mind was "What exactly is a doula?" I knew it had something to do with childbirth and thought it might be another term for a midwife, but the specifics were unknown to me.


A quick Google search revealed that a doula is a person who provides emotional, informational, and physical support to pregnant people and their families before, during, and after birth. While not medical professionals, doulas undergo thorough training in all aspects of prenatal, childbirth, and postpartum care.


I suspected I was not the only Workspace member who was clueless about the role of a doula so I reached out to Amber and asked if she would like to be featured in our Meet A Member series. She happily obliged, and we quickly got to work over email as our schedules did not align. I’m thrilled to share the following interview with Amber and feature their business. I found it to be eye-opening and informative and hope you will too. 


First, a little background: Amber (She/They) is a Full Spectrum Doula & Childbirth Educator who serves clients from the North and South Shore, Boston, and Providence in person or virtually. As a birth worker, Amber supports all individuals and family constellations through their journey of conception, birth, and beyond. It is her fundamental belief that everyone should be supported through their journey with dignity, respect, and autonomy. Amber's work is trauma informed, Health at Every Size centered, LGBTQIA+ affirming, lived experience and evidence based.


What inspired you to become a doula?

Honestly, I was that weird kid who used to watch "A Baby Story" on TLC and loved it. I grew up with that continued interest and got to be present for the birth of my brother when I was 9. As I got older, I was deeply passionate about sexual and reproductive health, specifically in the context of social justice. A lot of my previous work experiences had some ties to perinatal health and, when I found out that doula work was something that existed, I dove headfirst into training and building my business! I have loved every second and it's been a beautiful journey of continuous learning and leaning into the niches that I am most passionate about. 


You’ve been practicing as a doula since 2018. How many births have you attended? 

As of today (May 11th) I have attended 126 births as a doula. I've attended a few births as a friend or support person but that was before becoming a doula officially so, in reality, that number is a bit higher! 


What are the benefits of having a doula?

There are so many! A doula provides education, emotional, advocacy, and physical support through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. I think there is a big misconception that doulas are only for people who want the "crunchy" home birth or unmedicated births and that's NOT TRUE! As a doula, I'm here to support every type of birth. We provide prenatal support by helping to build out birth preferences, making sure birthing people and their partners have access to all the options, data, and information about their choices, and are a continuous support for people. Often a major benefit of having a doula is having someone you know and trust throughout your whole pregnancy to be with you during your birth. You won't know the nurses, you never know what provider will be on call, your doula is your familiar and trusted person! 


Statistically having doula support is super beneficial! Below are statistics from an Evidence Based Birth Article about some of the benefits of having a doula. 

●      25% decrease in the risk of Cesarean; the largest effect was seen with a doula (39% decrease) *

●      8% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth; the largest effect was seen with a doula (15% increase) *

●      10% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief; the type of person providing continuous support did not make a difference

●      Shorter labors by 41 minutes on average; there is no data on if the type of person providing continuous support makes a difference

●      38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five-minute Apgar score; there is no data on if the type of person providing continuous support makes a difference

●      31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience; mothers’ risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience was reduced with continuous support provided by a doula or someone in their social network (family or friend), but not hospital staff


What kind of services do you offer to expecting parents?

Currently, I offer a pretty wide range of support! I offer support through fertility/conception, abortion/loss, birth, and postpartum. In addition, I also offer private Childbirth Education and babywearing classes! 

Did you just say “Babywearing Classes?”

I did! Most people aren’t aware that this type of support exists. There are TONS of types of carriers that people can use. I teach 2-hour private lessons about the different types and also offer folks the ability to try some on before purchasing. I also give a little historical context around babywearing and its benefits. I have a large collection of different types of carriers that people can safely try on -- with or without their baby -- with a guide to make sure it’s done safely.


How do you help your clients prepare for childbirth?

I let my clients lead! We talk about all their options for birth, hospital, provider choices, and so much more. During Childbirth Education classes we cover physiological labor, anatomy, comfort measures, interventions, and the immediate postpartum. There is so much that clients don't get from their providers that I am often people's primary source of information about their labor experience. Each client of mine preps differently because they all give birth differently! 


How do you support partners during the birthing process?

Another misconception is that doulas replace partners in the birth room. That couldn't be further from the truth. Supporting partners has become one of my favorite aspects of this role! I support partners with information, help them be involved in any way they want, make sure they are getting their human needs met during the labor process, and help them stay present as they ease into parenthood.

Do you work with your client’s medical professionals during the birth process?

I make it very clear to clients that I will be courteous and professional when working with medical professionals BUT I work for my clients, and they will always come first. Their wants and needs will come before hospital policy and sometimes that does cause some friction. With that said, I have formed some great bonds with local providers and nurses and many of them recognize doulas as an integral part of the birthing team. 


How do you stay current on the latest childbirth research and practices?

Research! I’m constantly reading and catching up on guidelines and new data. My greatest source of up-to-date information is through Evidence Based Birth, which I have been a member of since 2020. 


What other interests do you have, and do they play a role in your doula practice?

I'm sincerely a birth nerd! I love research and reading, which often is about birth but occasionally you'll find me reading a good YA novel or something fun. I am a former competitive dancer and so I try to have that as part of my joy outside of work - but many times we end up dancing in labor as a coping tool too. I love to be outdoors, particularly camping getaways with my partner! 


What led you to choose Workspace for your practice? Where were you before?

Sincerely, I started looking for an office, and Workspace was one of the first listings I came across! I loved the space and having access to a conference room was a great bonus. Location was also a huge benefit because it's accessible for my Boston and South Shore clients. Before having an office space, I traveled to my client’s homes or conducted meetings virtually. I much prefer having a cozy space that clients can come to! 


Is there anything else you would like to share with our Community?

Everyone deserves a doula! Doula care is so essential for birthing people and their partners/families. Whether it's your first baby or your tenth, I promise you won't regret having a doula by your side!


Amber lives in Weymouth with her partner, Jake, and their four cats. To learn more about her work please visit Intimate Connections Doula OR follow along on social media @IntimateConnectionsDoula.