Ask anyone who knows me: I love doulas and I love henna. I mean, I really love henna. My first henna design was done by the lovely Amanda Heath of Best Birth Doula Care and Henna Design. I recently sat down with her to talk about the henna and doula work she does in our community.
Now before we get too far here, you might be wondering what the heck henna is. Originating in the middle Eastern and African regions, it is a plant that has healing and cooling properties. Originally it was used as a fever reducer and a skin darkener to prevent sunburn. Eventually, the use of henna turned into a cosmetic, cultural tradition, primarily used by women.
Three years ago, Amanda got into henna work because one of her friends saw henna and asked Amanda, who is naturally artistic, to do it. This friend wanted it done so badly that she bought Amanda her first henna kit. “I didn’t even know what I was supposed to do with it!” Amanda laughed. But she used it, and she loved it, despite the fact that the first belly she did made her say, “oh my. That’s really bad.” That first mama thoroughly enjoyed her henna-designed baby bump and three years later, Amanda is loving the healing, inclusive and therapeutic nature of henna. “It is so healing and therapeutic,” she said, “ Henna is very community based and inclusive and I love that.”
The designs she generally does are fairly typical henna patterns but people have brought designs for her to replicate or people can describe what they want and she can create from there. Traditional henna designs symbolize peace, wisdom, blessing and wealth and are often used in wedding ceremonies. Amanda mixes essential oils in her henna, often choosing lavender, to further the relaxing, peaceful nature of henna. She did henna on my hand once and believe me, it looked and smelled lovely! I will definitely be calling her up for a henna session (maybe two or three!) when I’m sporting my next baby bump.
People who get henna usually have it put on their hand or foot region because the henna stains those areas best. Other popular areas are pregnant bellies, arms, legs and the back. Most henna lasts anywhere from 1 ½- 2 weeks.
Not only does Amanda do henna in the Lincoln, NE area but she also does birth doula work. According to ToLabor, the organization Amanda received her training through, a birth doula is there to walk along with the laboring woman, to provide emotional, physical and educational support and to be a supportive tool to help one stay on the path. A few years ago I had the honor of attending a birth with Amanda and I can personally testify that she fits this definition perfectly. The kindness, compassion, strength and gentle presence that she exhibited at that birth are exactly what I picture when I think of a doula.
“I got into doula work because my husband and I used to work in a group home with teen girls and we also did foster care for teenage girls. When we decided that that part of their lives was over, I still wanted a meaningful way to connect with those girls. I also wanted work that was meaningful and brought in some income. I happened to see a doula training advertised and a light went off! Everything fell into place beautifully.”
Since then, she has helped 23 clients over the course of 2 ½ years. She has attended unmedicated births, VBACs and planned epidural births. It doesn’t matter to Amanda how a mother gives birth - her passion is for a mother to be informed in whatever birth she wants and to be fully supported in that. Actually, the very first birth that she attended was a planned cesarean.
Amanda’s favorite part of being a doula is informing families and helping them find the birth that fits for them. “We lack so much information,” she said, “I did for my births and you just don’t realize how much information you are missing out on unless you know where to look.”
If you want to contact Amanda about her henna or doula services, you can call or text her at 402-417-2210 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’ll have a new website up soon, so stay tuned for that! For now, keep with with her on her Facebook page - Best Birth Doula Care and Henna Design. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this article to see more of her henna pictures and doula work!
Amanda is married to her high school sweetheart, Troy, who just got his degree in counseling. They have been happily married for 17 years. She has 4 biological children and 1 adopted and has lived in the Lincoln area since high school. She currently home schools her children. For fun, she likes to go on dates with Troy, family camping trips and art related activities.