Catholic Herald staff
Mary Hebda has been working with the Couple to Couple League, promoting Natural Family Planning methods and educating couples about related topics, for more than 30 years.
A resident of Rib Lake who maintains ties with Catholic churches in both Medford and Rib Lake, she’s also used her opportunity as the director of Ogema Public Library to add NFP books to the stacks.
Now, Hebda is facilitating a new program to support pregnant and postpartum women and their families. The library hosted an inaugural Birthing Circle session Feb. 8. Five women and seven children attended; the group meets from 6 to 7 p.m. the second Thursday of every month at the library.
Groups encouraging women to talk about birth and early parenting experiences are common in communities in the Diocese of La Crosse, according to Hebda. The Ogema library sessions, which are led by doulas, include an informative presentation and discussion.
Jess Wear and Hollie Fryklund – doing business as High Point Doulas, they offer professional pregnancy and birth support services – presented on their work at the first meeting and encouraged mothers to share their personal experiences.
“When we meet for the Birthing Circle, we try to engage the attendees in a lively discussion,” explained Wear, who is Baptist. “Typically that means a current issue, a common struggle or a controversial topic.”
“At every Circle, women have the opportunity to share/process their birth stories,” Wear added. “While neither of us is a qualified therapist, we acknowledge that through us, God works. We only offer healing in the capacity that we can and offer feedback as warranted. If needs extend beyond our capacity (in any matter), we connect families to the resources in our area.”
The doulas also recently gave a presentation for members of Price Country Respect Life. They talked about their work as birth doulas, but also discussed the expanding need for doulas in other contexts – prisons, bereavements, etc.
Wear feels having a servant’s heart for women and children is key to a doula’s effectiveness.
“To me, it just feels like a natural extension of the body of Christ to take care of and support those who need it,” she said.
For future Birthing Circle meetings, Wear and Fryklund will invite experts to speak on related topics. Hebda will share her passion for NFP with the group this spring.
“Richard, my husband and I are giving a talk in May on Natural Family Planning, specifically natural mothering as per CCL and the importance of the role a father has in that success and the basic concept behind the Sympto-Thermal method,” Hebda said.
For information, call the library at 715-767-5130.