Birthworker Highlight on Ires Wilbanks: "The Yoga Doula"

Birthworker Highlights is an ongoing series highlighting local birthworkers. If you'd like to be included in the series, please complete the form found HERE to be added to our blog line-up. Thank you. We look forward to sharing your story and your role in the NNJ Birthworker Community. 

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Please introduce yourself.: My name is Ires Wilbanks. I'm a native New Yorker and moved to South Orange when I was pregnant with our 2nd child. She is now 10 years old d our oldest is about to be 14. I teach prenatal and postnatal yoga at Shakti Yoga & Living Arts in Maplewood. I also teach yoga for Labor and Delivery at Avalon Wellness in Morristown. I have been attending births for 6 years and am fully engaged in preparing women and couples for the life altering experience of birth.

Pls share a memorable story about your doula work.: In the past 6 years of attending births as a doula, I have had a few birth experiences that made me believe anything is truly possible. Surrender and trust are two words we use as doulas to explain how a laboring woman can become more fully immersed in her experience. But as doulas, we really have to embody those two concepts. We have to trust things will work out and line up so that we can be fully present for the family when they need us.

On the eve of this past Thanksgiving, I received a call from my 11/19 multip client saying she was having some back pain but wasn't sure if it was labor. I was about to get in the shower and get ready for bed. We stayed on the phone a bit and determined she would get back to me within the next hour to see if anything was changing. As we got off the phone I got a call from my client EDD 12/2 saying she was having some cramping. I thought oh dear, what if they both go into labor tonight. I immediately (though somewhat reluctantly because of the holiday) reached out to back up. One of my trusted doula collegues agreed to help me out if needed despite the fact that she had a house full of family in for the holidays. I sighed a sigh of relief. I heard back from my first client and things were changing very rapidly. She sounded like she was very active so we decided to meet at the hospital.

I raced over to Morristown and got there just as she had birthed her baby. It was a precipitous birth. The couple was dumbfounded at how quickly and smoothly it all went. They attributed the good outcome to all the prep we had done together. I was able to be with her as she was in the 2nd stage of labor and for awhile postpartuum.

Sure enough, my early December primip, was moving into active labor. I apologetically left my first client to race over to Overlook to meet my next client. She was also in active labor and feeling very nauseated. It was a relatively quick labor with a very long and difficult 3 stage. (4 hours of pushing including some rebozo work to encourage the OP baby).

I managed to make it home around 4pm and sleep for an hour before heading to a family Thanksgiving dinner. To my utter disbelief it all worked out swimmingly. Stay relaxed, breathe deeply, drink and eat with care and rest when you can is good advice for a laboring mom -- but it is also the same critical advice any doula can follow in order to be the best doula you can be.

How do you work with or connect with doulas in your area?: We used to have a doula circle at Montclair baby - Sadly it is no longer happening. But it was how I met my doula colleagues initially.

What are your goals for this year?: To increase the number of families I serve in my area and continue to teach. 

Ires can be found at