Birth doula supports women through motherhood bumps

Between ACDC and Kiss concerts, Jan Martinka was living the fast life trying to raise two kids.

Birthing and postpartum doula Jan Martinka (center) chats with mom-to-be Levonne Padilla (left) and Sarah Levy

Birthing and postpartum doula Jan Martinka (center) chats with mom-to-be Levonne Padilla (left) and Sarah Levy

Kirkland mom Jan Martinka guides mothers through birth and postpartum

Between ACDC and Kiss concerts, Jan Martinka was living the fast life trying to raise two kids.

Then, at a Rolling Stones concert, she found out she was pregnant with her third child.

“It was pretty hectic,” she recalled of when her husband was a rock concert promoter in Milwaukee. So when Martinka was six months pregnant, the couple moved to Kirkland to raise their family.

Now a birth and postpartum doula, the mother of four full-grown children has supported other women for more than 20 years.

“Doula” is Greek for “women supporting women,” she explained. Pregnant women, or women dealing with postpartum issues use a doula to help guide them.

Martinka has participated in more than 100 births, from c-sections to water births and from at-home deliveries to births at Evergreen and Overlake hospitals. Her clients span Microsoft employees, her own son and daughter-in-law, and most recently she is supporting a close family friend, Levonne Padilla.

“I got lucky,” the Kirkland resident said of Martinka, her best friend’s mother whom she has known since childhood.

Padilla, who is expecting her first child this April, has used Martinka’s guidance to help the mom-to-be find a good doctor and set up a birthing plan.

“I’m so nervous, so I ask tons of questions and she’s always telling me, ‘you’ll be fine,’” Padilla said. “It calms me down.”

Martinka said she enjoys working in partnership with the birthing couple or mother. She helps clients set up a birthing plan, attends prenatal visits with them and supports what they want, whether it be an epidural or no drugs during delivery.

But new moms, like Sarah Levy, also know how challenging motherhood can be after their baby is born.

“Women don’t get help because they think they should be able to do it all and they shouldn’t have to do it all,” said Levy, who recently gave birth to daughter, Chloe. “That’s the whole point of having a doula.”

A child psychologist for her practice, The Prepared Mom, Levy said she has worked with women through their pregnancies.

“For me I learned that I don’t know enough and I really wanted the extra support,” she added.

Martinka goes to Levy’s home and offers support through all of the “firsts”: how to breastfeed properly, put the baby to sleep and bond with the baby.

Levy considers herself a typical new mom and wonders “if I’m doing everything right and I’m still unsure. It doesn’t matter what you do or who you are, I think new moms all tend to experience those same feelings of insecurity and fears and it’s good to know that that’s normal.”

Martinka said it’s rewarding “just helping a new mom figure it out.”

She recently helped a mother who was experiencing sore nipples because her baby’s latch was off. Martinka propped the mother with pillows, showed her how to position the baby and then breastfeeding became easier.

She also offers support to mothers who experience postpartum depression.

“If I knew then what I know now, I’m sure I would have had a doula,” Martinka said of her own pregnancies.

She remembers sitting up in the middle of the night with her newborn and crying because she was so tired.

“Just know that you will get through this,” is the advice she gives to new mothers.

Martinka’s rock n’ roll lifestyle has not left her completely. She recently had a couple ask if she could play AC/DC during the birth of their child. She obliged.

But between supporting other women and enjoying her own grandchildren, she has learned to slow down.

“So that’s what I tell my new moms –- it goes so fast. One minute you’re holding a baby and the next minute your son is graduating from college. So what I tell them is you need to enjoy this time because it’s gone in a snap.”

For more information about birth and postpartum doula Jan Martinka, visit or call her at 425-444-7870.

Postpartum depression

According to, postpartum depression may appear to be the baby blues at first — but the signs and symptoms are more intense and longer lasting, eventually interfering with your ability to care for your baby and handle other daily tasks. Signs and symptoms of postpartum depression may include: Loss of appetite; insomnia; intense irritability and anger; overwhelming fatigue; loss of interest in sex; lack of joy in life; feelings of shame, guilt or inadequacy; severe mood swings; difficulty bonding with the baby; withdrawal from family and friends; thoughts of harming yourself or the baby.

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