Maria Provencher Program Coordinator & Co-Founder Operation Doula
A native San Diegan, Maria became a Navy spouse in 1987 when she married her husband Jerry. After a 23 year Navy career and 30 years of marriage, they both see the Navy community as their family. In 1989, her call to be a doula was literally a phone call from a fellow military spouse laboring alone at a local hospital. From that day to today, Maria has committed herself to working as a childbirth educator and volunteer doula. Her goal has always been to ensure that all women have the support they need when delivering their babies. After becoming a certified doula in 1992 with Informed Birth & Parenting, Inc., she went on to co-found an organization which provided labor support at no cost to teens, low-income, and Spanish speaking women in the San Diego area. She also taught childbirth classes and volunteered with a pregnant minor program within San Diego City Schools. When the Navy lifestyle moved her family around the U.S., she continued working with birthing families by creating a childbirth education business and teaching classes in a Baltimore Clinic. Her work in inner city Baltimore reinforced her resolve to make a positive difference in the world of labor support. Maria quietly pursued her birth work with families as her husband retired from the Navy and they re-settled to their hometown of San Diego. She continued serving as a birth doula for low-income women and a local refugee community. Maria continues to educate others on the role of doulas in birth, she is a guest lecturer at San Diego State University each semester, speaking to the nursing students during their Obstetrics rotation. In 2016 she co-founded Operation Doula and recently partnered with the Military Birth Resource Network as their San Diego Chapter. Maria continues to focus on serving her military family by connecting the San Diego doula community with women in need of labor support through Operation Doula. She is excited to support the spread of similar programs like Operation Doula to other military bases around the world.
About Operation Doula
Operation Doula began from the heart of two women, a Doula and a Midwife. They shared the same dream, to provide labor and birth support to a community of women with a higher than average need for support who had limited resources to obtain that support. As a military spouse and a doula, Maria Provencher was excited to partner with Midwife and Professor Shari Kari. Shari had worked as a midwife at Balboa Hospital prior to her work as a Professor at SDSU’s School of Nursing. With their backgrounds and shared passion, they soon developed the program for Naval Medical Center San Diego, known as Balboa Hospital and went to work gathering volunteers. In August of 2016 we welcomed our first Operation Doula baby into the world, little Daniella. Daniella’s Mom arrived at the hospital in labor, completely alone, Dad was deployed and her family lived outside of the U.S. Maria met her at Balboa and they worked together with quiet love and support until Daniella arrived. It was a beautiful birth and the perfect way to begin our program’s journey helping others. We recently celebrated Daniella’s birthday and today we have over 20 active volunteer doulas along with the support and encouragement of the wonderful staff at Balboa Hospital.