Let me introduce myself. My name is Melissa Hunter, and I am a responsible, nurturing, attentive woman focused on helping families navigate the labyrinthine journey of pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum “fourth trimester.”
My path to the doula profession has been a long and winding one. After high school, I pursued what seemed practical at the time…a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. Yet, by my senior year I realized this was not where I belonged. I finished my degree and then pursued a teaching credential so that I could teach high school science. I enjoyed working with adolescents, but the pressure from the daily deadlines and my own perfectionism coupled with school politics led me to move onwards. The next bend on this winding path was working in advertising and public relations for environmental and public health issues. Thanks to the crashing economy in the fall of 2008, I found myself to be numbered among the unemployed with a lot of soul searching to do.
Two years earlier, my husband and I gave birth to our precious daughter, Amelie. The pregnancy was difficult, the labor was long and trying, and the postpartum challenges rocked my world. I had been so used to being a competent, successful, professional woman. I researched and prepared the best I could, but I was not able to adapt with ease as I had daydreamed. It was quite a steep learning curve. I would have given an arm and a leg for postpartum doula support during this time had I known it was an option. Several months passed before I learned how to wear Amelie in a wrap or confidently give her a bath. Some instruction and reassurance would have really helped along with practical help around the house.
Fast forward to December of 2008, knee deep in soul searching. I met a woman who had previously worked as a postpartum doula in the San Diego area. Feeling a tug and a pull of my heart in that direction, I researched the profession and attended a training in February of 2009 by DONA International in Los Angeles.
I spent the next couple years establishing my postpartum doula practice while focusing my energy on healing from depression and birth trauma. In 2011 I gave birth to my second child, Kian, and then lost my mother to cancer. It was a rocky year, to say the least. With my feet finally back on the ground, I decided to expand my services to include childbirth classes, birth doula services and birth story listening sessions.
The more I study child development, the more I become aware of the importance of the perinatal period (pregnancy, birth, and postpartum). This precious time lays the foundation for trust and connection that can affect each of us throughout our life. My goal is to help families gently integrate and celebrate their newest additions into the family, and I see the work of the childbirth mentor/doula as the perfect arena to support families.
I truly believe in women’s instincts and the ability of families to make healthy decisions when they are supported and feel safe. I choose to work with families in the perinatal period because it is an area where I can use the best of my skills: empathic listening, honest communication, compassion, and intuitive caregiving. As a childbirth mentor and doula, I believe my work with families fosters health and peace at large in our society.
Certifications and Training
Without a doubt, my two children have been my greatest teachers and healers. Additional trainings are listed below:
- Birthing From Within Introductory Workshop, 2010 and 2013
- Birthing From Within Advanced Mentor Retreat, 2014
- Birthing From Within-trained Birth Doula in 2013, certified in 2014
- DONA-trained Birth Doula in 2013, certified in 2014
- Rebozo – An Extension of the Doula’s Arms, 2013
- TENS – Help for Back Labor, 2013
- Neonatal Resuscitation, 2009, 2012, 2014
Postpartum Doula & Lactation Counselsor
- DONA-trained Postpartum Doula in 2009, certified in 2010, recertified in 2013 and 2016
- Certified Lactation Counselor, 2009, 2012, 2015
- First Aid & Infant, Child and Adult CPR, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015
- Postpartum Support International (PSI) training on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, 2013
- Central California Perinatal Mental Health Collaborative trainings, 2009, 2010, 2011
- Breastfeeding trainings with Dr. Jack Newman, 2012
- Secrets of Baby Behavior by UC Davis Human Lactation Center, 2010 and 2013
- Introduction to CranioSacral Therapy: Applications for Breastfeeding, 2015
Birth Story Listening
- Birth Story Listening course with Pam England, founder of Birthing From Within, 2013
Other Relevant Trainings
- Body Into Being: Advanced Energetic Somatic Training, 150 hours with Ray Castellino and Anna Chitty, 2015
- CranioSacral Therapy 1, Upledger Institute, 2015
- Reiki Master-Teacher, 2012-2013