Health Provider Profile: Gwen Kiehne

Gwen Riehne​Tell us about your occupation.

I am a Certified Birth and Postpartum Doula and my passion is easing the transition to parenthood. I am also a Certified Lactation Educator and Certified Sleep Coach.

Why did you choose to go into your particular field of medicine/healthcare?

Supporting parents as a doula beautifully combines my love of research, my interest in human development, and my strong desire to connect with humans in deep and meaningful ways. It’s rewarding to be a positive and reassuring force during a time that is nakedly human.

Where were you born?

Houston, TX

Where have you been?

I grew up in Austin, Texas and moved to Seattle in 2005. I have visited almost every state in the U.S. except Alaska, Wisconsin, Michigan, and several states northeast of NY. Outisde the U.S., I have traveled to Canada, Mexico, Germany, Austria, and the U.K. I would love to travel more.

Medical style you grew up with?

I grew up in a primarily Western medicine oriented family with a mother that was much more likely to try a home remedy than visit the doctor. That said, we had a beloved family doctor who I saw throughout my childhood and adolescence who also delivered two of my siblings.

Your views on health in your own home?

The fundamentals of health start with self care and nutrition in our home. Good food is good medicine and managing stress is key to a healthy immune system. My husband and I try to strike a balance between evidence based information and common sense pragmatism.

The book that changed your life?

Having Faith by Sandra Steingraber who also wrote Living Downstream. Her writing is gorgeous and I love the way that she humanizes science. She was the first author that I was exposed to that discussed pregnancy and childbirth in experiential terms through a biological scientific lens.

What is the most difficult aspect of your work for you to accept?

The shame that women carry about their bodies and how far our medical system has yet to go to understand and care for women, especially Black and Brown women, and non-binary and trans people.

What are you most proud of/grateful for about your work?

I get to witness the raw power and bravery of birthing people and new parents. It gives me faith in humanity every day.

What is your go-to home-remedy for a cold?

Strong fresh ginger tea with lemon and honey, a hot bath, and a good snuggle with a cat. Rest.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

My best friend suggested that I check out Seattle after visiting the West Coast on a long road trip with her boyfriend. I don’t know that I would have considered looking at the Pacific Northwest before hearing her rave about how amazing it is. Seattle is home now and I couldn’t be happier here.

If you could stay home with a cup of coffee three days a week and research any area of health that pertains to your occupation, what would it be and why?

I want to know more about the physiology and psychology of pregnancy and birth. Mood disorders are the number one complication of pregnancy and it is still so stigmatized that we tiptoe around it like a sleeping dragon. I want mental health to be treated and funded like any other health issue.

Favorite place to be?

In my garden, harvesting fresh produce.

What does self-health mean to you?

It means feeling empowered to drive our own choices regarding our health, to connect with, as Angela Garbes says, the “inherent cycles and rhythms” of our body.

Gwen’s References

Gwen reference map