Hollis' Story: Who is the NICU Doula?

Hollis Wakefield, The NICU Doula, is a former NICU parent turned birth worker, educator, and family advocate.

Due to complications from a previous cervical cancer surgery, Hollis' water broke at exactly 24 weeks gestation. Following a 5-day hospitalization, she gave birth to her daughter via emergency cesarean. Unable to breathe on her own, septic, and with nothing but a faint pulse, Kepley came into the world at just 1 pound and 10 ounces.

Hollis' body teemed with an infection that wouldn't respond to antibiotics, and days later, while still recovering from the original surgery, she endured a hysterectomy to save her life.



After 97 days in the NICU, Hollis and her spouse Court finally took their baby home, but the support they'd had in the NICU fell away as most people assumed they didn't need it any longer. Without the team of NICU providers that had become like family and the support they'd had from their friends, the fourth trimester (and beyond) was more difficult than they could ever have anticipated, especially with a medically complex baby, multiple appointments with specialists each week, and pumping around the clock.

Hollis' experience inspired her to pursue a doula certification, so she could advocate for NICU families and empower them to create an environment where the whole family can rest, recover, and thrive. She quickly discovered that other doulas were eager for training and information on helping their clients who find themselves in the NICU. Hollis then met fellow queer preemie parent and educator Aruna Boodram, and they began creating trainings and workshops to fill that gap. They teach classes for Birthing Advocacy Doula Training, as well as private workshops and public speaking.

Experience and Education

Classes and Workshops

  • Postpartum Doula Training (DONA Approved)
  • Systemic Racism/Implicit Bias in Care Work (Re+Birth Equity Alliance)
  • Kangaroula Training Workshop (Birthworks International)
  • Ating Bahay: A Guidance Offering for Emerging Radical Birthworkers (Pocket Doula)
  • Cultural Humility as a Childbirth Educator (Birthing Advocacy Doula Training)
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