Kristen Mantell
Love Kristen Mantell, BBCI

Owner of Wild World Mama, LLC
DONA-Trained Birth Doula
Certified Birth Boot Camp Instructor
Professional Graphic Designer

Hi I'm Kristen

I’m a mama to 2 young children, 2 goofball german shepherds, and a not-so-little gray house cat. I’m married to a handsome, burly man, who is an amazing husband and father. I love black coffee, serial killer documentaries, Jonathan from Queer Eye, the Hidden Brain podcast, and singer-songwriter music. I adore being around people who speak their truths and don’t give a hoot what other people think! Something I strive to do myself, I’m a work-in-progress.

I’m a professional designer with over 10 years experience, who after having children and becoming aware firsthand of the maternity care crisis in America felt an overwhelming need to do something about it!

I became a DONA-trained birth doula, certified as a childbirth educator with Birth Boot Camp. I educated myself from here to Sunday! 

Birth is as beautiful as it is intense. Mamas are strong as hell! We are dealing with a lot of completely unnecessary fear, harm, and trauma in the realm of childbirth. The consequences of this harm trickles subtly and not so subtly into our lives in every way, even long after birth. Pregnancy, birth, and postpartum is a monumentally transformative time and the current United States maternity care system is, for lack of a better term… fucking it up.

**Important note** 
If you don’t think our current maternity care system could use some serious improvement, Wild World Mama might not be your cup of tea. I recommend the books “Optimal Care in Childbirth”  and “Cut It Out” as further reading. Much love.

We need to take birth back. 

Midwives, Doulas, and all those in wellness professions helping mamas have better, safer pregnancies, births, and postpartums, YOU are all incredible humans! I want to help support you.

How can I help you as designer and birth worker?

I can use my design expertise and knowledge of birth to help the ones working directly with the mamas. To support the change drivers, the ones who are improving birth for us all, the people like YOU. I’m here to help support you, so you can inform and support more mamas!

In short, I offer graphic design and website services for birth and wellness professionals to support them in their efforts towards improving maternity care in America.

That is a little snippet who I am and what I can offer. 

In true doula fashion, know we’ve got this! Let’s do this, together.

If you’re interested in learning more about my story and why I created Wild World Mama, more on that below.

TESTIMONIALS

My story and why I created Wild World Mama

THE IN-DEPTH VERSION...

When I got pregnant with my first child, birth was not on my radar, at all. I just went along with all the things you were “supposed” to do, I asked few questions, putting blind trust in my care provider, and just picked the closest hospital that delivered babies. I started my pregnancy as a passive participant in my care. As my pregnancy progressed I came to notice I knew more people around me that had a cesarean birth than a vaginal birth. Let alone a vaginal birth that wasn’t a “near miss” or a completely traumatizing experience. 

Something seemed off to me… 

I had this nagging question in the back of my mind, how did we survive as a species for this long if most women truly require major abdominal surgery and/or major medical intervention in order to give birth? I mean I know advancement in medicine has saved lives, but this seems a tad bit extreme… things didn’t add up.

I personally didn’t want major surgery or to be traumatized by the birth of my child if there was ANYTHING I could do to lower my personal risk of those scenarios. So I started doing my research. 

I stumbled upon a comprehensive natural birth class and to be perfectly honest was hesitant to take it. I mean why in the world would you give birth without an epidural?! That’s just what you do right?! After doing a ton of research I came to the conclusion this class was my best option to educate myself on the normal processes of birth and how to keep myself at the lowest risk possible for any “avoidable” complications. 

I thought, even if I take this class and end up wanting or needing an epidural or some sort of medical intervention, at least I could take some FEAR out of my upcoming birth, figure out how to handle contractions, know what to expect in general terms, and be a part of the decision making process.

Due to my personal tendencies to be “over-prepared” and my passion for learning EVERYTHING and always asking”why”, I not only took the independent comprehensive 10-week course but I also signed up for the 2-day hospital-sponsored birth class. 

Holy crap, was there a difference between the two… like night and day. If I would have just taken the hospital birth class I would have been more scared and not at all prepared. I would have made a good patient though, perhaps thats why that class exists? I am forever grateful that I took that leap of faith and chose to educate myself through other means outside of what the hospital provided or suggested. 

After all was said and done, I am 500% convinced that my comprehensive birth class saved me from an avoidable cesarean. Thank you Megan! 

It saved me from a lot of avoidable birth trauma. Looking back in hindsight on how my birth unfolded in its own uniqueness, had I not been informed and prepared going in, there is no doubt in my mind things would have ended up A LOT different. My hospital birth experience opened my eyes to the inner workings of how birth happens in this country. It started me down a path of intense exploration and learning ALL about birth, the cesarean epidemic, women’s rights in birth, women’s empowerment, and birth politics. 

I was like Alice falling into the rabbit hole. My eyes were now wide open and I just could not look away. It was like watching a car wreck, like a highway full of car wrecks, and everyone is too busy looking at their cellphones! There I was jaw on the ground, seeing this wide landscape of just a complete shit show. 

I learned that women were being lied to and coerced. Seemingly “harmless” routine procedures were actually the direct cause of a lot of avoidable complications in birth. Technology that has been proven ineffective and harmful is still in use. That our cesarean rate was sky high and the high rate was actually causing worse outcomes not better. That black women were dying at 3-4x the rate of white women. That the United States is THE most dangerous places to give birth in the industrialized world. The United States, where the majority of births take place in hospitals with highly-skilled surgeons and doctors, with state-of-the-art technology… 

What in the world?! 

My old perception of what a “safe” birth looked like was turned on its head so fast, I think it’s still spinning.

I saw doctors, insurance companies, the media, mothers themselves, and hospitals blaming women for their own demise. Blaming women for this crisis. Blaming women for their own trauma. It just didn’t add up. The more I learned the more I realized our entire system is broken to its very core. I’ve realized the oath, “do no harm” does not seem to apply in maternity care in America today. Women, babies, and families are being harmed on so many levels and many people don’t even realize that this is happening. It’s happening in very subtle and not so subtle ways and for those who are aware of the issues many are at a complete loss on what to do about it. I found myself in a tough spot. 

This problem is HUGE. It’s extremely political. It’s more than just “get the epidural” or “schedule a cesarean” or “hospital vs home” at the core, it’s about human rights, specifically birthing people and women’s rights. Many people have been fighting the fight to better maternity care for a long, long, long, long time. We are in a dire need of a total systemic overhaul! I saw a gigantic problem that was right under everyone’s noses. It blew my mind. 

This is at the core of why I started Wild World Mama: 

To do whatever I possibly could to help lessen fear and trauma surrounding birth. 

It’s not about one “type” of birth over another, its about women being a part of the decision making process and not being run over by an abysmal system that doesn’t give 2 shits about them after they leave those doors… as long as they pay their exorbitant bill. Figuring out a way to do that, within my own resources and abilities, took some creativity on my part. 

How do we tackle this iceberg size problem, 1 chip at a time, until it eventually it cracks. 

I got certified to teach childbirth education classes. I got professionally trained as a birth doula. All while raising 2 young children of my own under 3 years old! I observed many other births which taught me how incredibly beautiful but different birth is for every single mama and every single pregnancy. I watched powerful women in their most vulnerable moments being manipulated. I educated myself on all sides of the issue, I tried to get to the core of what was the problem so I can hopefully understand what the solution might be and how can I help contribute to that solution. I wanted to also utilize my natural abilities and personal strengths. I didn’t want to not pretend to be someone I’m not or fit into a box of what someone who does this should be. I wanted to help support and further the cause of improving maternity care for all mamas. 

Birth in America is a business. In the US, the only way businesses change is when either the consumer demands something different or laws are changed. The consumers of maternity care in America are the mothers and birthing people. My thoughts are, if you adequately inform and support the mothers, they themselves (the consumers of maternity care) can demand better, when enough consumers demand better, when the voice is loud enough, the business of birth will have to bend to meet those demands. 

Through my quest for gaining more clarity surrounding what’s causing this maternity care crisis, I’ve made a list of some of the main issues: 

  • Insurance companies and hospital administrators dictating women's care.
  • Fear of litigation.
  • Money.
  • Understaffed maternity care offices and maternity wings at hospitals.
  • Surgeons attending low-risk births.
  • The campaign against midwives and the lack of respect and lack of use of them.
  • Low-use of birth and postpartum doulas due to financial constraints or lack of knowledge about them and their benefits.
  • The over-medicalization of birth and viewing birth itself as pathological.
  • Reckless and routine use of risky medical interventions in low-risk pregnancies without obtaining fully-informed consent. Swaying mothers decisions by not giving them all the information so they can make a fully-informed decision. Taking advantage of a mother's anxieties, fears, and vulnerabilities during pregnancy and birth.
  • Systemic racism. Lack of support for minority birth workers so women of color can have birth support from other women of color.
  • Lack of accountability for poor or abusive care.
  • The god complex in birthing rooms.
  • Care provider trauma spilling into birthing spaces, causing fear-based rather than evidence-based medicine.
  • Inadequate training or lack of exposure to normal physiological birth in medical schools.
  • Diffusion of responsibility.
  • An undertone of complete distrust of women, their abilities, and their bodies.

That’s a lot. 

That’s a lot of pretty heavy stuff. Stuff that many have just stuck their heads in the sand and blame the women, resisting the argument that the way we currently do things, seriously needs to change. That the “healers”, the care providers, have their hands tied by insurance or administration, have fear of litigation as a main driver in their decisions, are quite honestly traumatized themselves, or have just lost their way in this broken system. 

So what can I do? 

I can support the birth workers, the midwives, the doulas, the wellness professionals dealing directly with the consumer (the mothers). The ones trying to improve outcomes for mamas and babies. These people are the change drivers in our broken maternity care system. I can use my design abilities, my 10+ years of design expertise, to help them be more visible, so they have more reach. To have their own business brands better reflect the IMMENSE value that they bring to their own communities. The more informed and adequately supported these mothers and families are the better care they can demand to receive. 

These mothers and families will be more equipped to speak out against shitty or abusive care. They’ll be informed enough to have educated discussions with their care provider so they can work in collaboration with them, not at mercy to them. So they can receive the safest care for their own unique situation and not unnecessarily and unknowingly introducing real risk with no clear benefit. 

We can have better outcomes and better births so more mothers can be empowered and feel fully capable as they take that giant leap into that wild world after birth. That world where the main goal is to keep that tiny new human (as well as themselves) alive and thriving, mentally, emotionally, and physically! 

Thats where I feel I can make the most impact given my unique passion for birth and design skillset. 

I can also educate mamas myself and spread images and messages of empowerment. To help change the conversations surrounding birth, to get people asking the hard questions, and knowing if nothing else that they have options and that it’s the mothers who are the main decision makers in their births. To remind them of their autonomy and their worthiness.

I’ve come a long way since before I took that giant leap into the rabbit hole of birth, but now that I’m here, I’m going to do my damndest to fight for better care for us all, with whatever tools I have, by helping the ones already in the arena, the birth and wellness professionals. 

Because I truly feel when you heal birth you can start to heal society. 

Birth matters. Mamas matter. 

Thats why I started Wild World Mama.

Together we can
DRIVE CHANGE

Let’s work together to get you looking your best. When you can inform and support more mamas we all benefit.

Informing and preparing expecting families, so they can set themselves up to have better, safer births!

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