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Iris Bicksler

When her best friend became pregnant at age 19, South Eugene grad Iris Bicksler wanted to help. "I called a midwifery school in town and learned about becoming a doula," she says. Doula is a new word for the ancient practice of women supporting other women through pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood. A midwife works with the physical side of birth, while a doula provides emotional and educational support. "I did the training and became a birth junky," says Bicksler, who was also pursuing women's studies at the UO. "I helped with friends and worked for free with teen clients." She married Ben Dechter, now a third-grade teacher, in 2000, and gave birth at home to their kids Sophia and Lucas. "Giving birth and being a mom helps me connect with the women I work with," she says. In 2004, Bicksler joined with doulas Shea Hardy, Bess Day, and Lisa Rignell to found Doulas Supporting Teens, a non-profit group that collaborates with teen-parent programs in five local schools. "We also offer a mentorship program," says Bicksler. "Three of our teen parents have become doulas."

happening people

photograph and story by Paul Neevel

Eugene Weekly / 12 April 2007

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