By Christine Van Dusen
Dr. Katrina Fuller
When Dr. Katrina Fuller ’13 chose to have her baby at home, she didn’t have a thriving community of mothers and caregivers in Hobbs, New Mexico, to support her and her decision. And when she couldn’t shake the baby blues after the births of her children, she felt alone in her postpartum depression.
“I thought, ‘Maybe this is the way life is; I just have to deal with it,’ ” she recalls. “But I needed support and so many other women do, too. I saw this need for me and for the community, and I thought, ‘What can I do?’ ”
Fuller, who had studied to become an elementary school teacher, decided she wanted to become an educator of a different kind—focusing on educating and supporting women and their families to make informed decisions and be healthy during pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and postpartum life.
So she sought certifications in pregnancy fitness, childbirth, teen, and lactation education, while studying to become an antepartum, labor and postpartum doula, a placenta specialist, and a Reiki practitioner.
In 2009, Fuller created Natural Nesters, a business in Hobbs that provides education, support, and therapy services to pregnant women, new mothers, and their families. But something was still missing. She needed to know how to develop lesson plans from scratch, how to find and conduct research, and how to analyze data. So she sought her Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) at Walden.
“I first discovered that what I was learning at Walden was making an impact in my childbirth, new baby care, and breastfeeding classes when families contacted me after the births of their babies to tell me they appreciated the evidence-based information they learned in class,” Fuller explains. “They were confident in their ability to make informed consent or refusal decisions based on risks, benefits, and alternatives and achieve better birth and infant feeding outcomes.”
While earning her degree, she also discovered her research, academic writing, and doctoral study further polished her skills. “Now I can better understand what the research is telling us. I can look at it with a clear, critical eye and can tell if it’s reliable or valid and what the results mean,” she says. “Before my coursework at Walden, I wouldn’t have had a clue.” Ultimately, her education allows her to provide more accurate, reliable education—and a sense of confidence—to all of her clients.
By using what she learned at Walden, she expanded the outreach of Natural Nesters. Fuller now offers classes to help clients understand pregnancy and learn new baby care and breastfeeding best practices. She also helps women go through labor and offers comfort, support, and massage services to expecting and new mothers. She provides postpartum support as well.
By combining her personal experiences as a pregnant woman and mother with her academic and professional training, Fuller is able to support women from pregnancy through birth and beyond. “Now I can really effect positive social change and build bridges between mothers and healthcare professionals,” Fuller explains. “I love what I do.”
Tell us about your career by emailing myWaldenImpact@waldenu.edu.