“The foundations of WisdomWay's Compass of Mindful Caregiving have supported me as I have been present as a midwife, a coach, a mentor, bearing witness to beginnings, losses, and other life transitions. I have found in all these roles, particularly with my own circle of loved ones, that we can have our most difficult moments become our deepest practice. We can find a way through the conditioned ways of reacting that wear us down and keep us from accessing what is nourishing and affirming about our caring."”

-Karen Laing

Founder of WisdomWay, Karen Laing, IBCLC, AMT

Our Founder

Karen Laing, IBCLC, AMT, has experience as a midwife, lactation consultant, trauma–informed perinatal educator, and national speaker on birth and postpartum caregiving.

Since 1994, Karen has been involved in maternal/child health. She has worked as a midwife, trained in a community health center in Chicago, and has also participated in an international midwifery exchange with Casa Hospital de Maternidad in San Miguel de Allende. In addition to her maternal health background, she completed a mindfulness-based Integrative Health Coaching program at Duke Integrative Medicine and completed her training as a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction instructor in Europe, meeting the MBI-TAC.

In 1997, she founded Birthways, one of the largest and longest standing doula organizations in the country, that serves families with labor support & postpartum care, perinatal education, Mindfulness Based Childbirth and Parenting courses, a lactation clinic and lactation home visiting team, and integrated mental health services, among other comprehensive offerings. She has maintained her International Board Certification as a Lactation Consultant since 2005.

​She began her career in mindful caregiving more than 30 years ago when she was introduced to the Dana model of home care that began in the Shambala community in Colorado and spread to Chicago, where she worked with the Dana Home Care founder, Bill Brauer, and later, Nancy Newton,who became a close friend and mentor.

For more than two decades, Karen has trained & mentored midwives, doulas, perinatal educators and lactation specialists with a mindfulness -based framework, inspired by this early experience with mindfulness and refined by her passion for models of care built on compassionate, equitable, and respectful care relationships. She has created models of care that emphasize collaboration between home-based doula supports, perinatal mental health & lactation support.

She served on the board of the National Association of Postpartum Care Services, where she helped to establish the first national standards for postpartum doulas. Since 1997, doulas, lactation specialists, and perinatal educators have established their practices with the Birthways Core Curriculum and refined their expertise with her mentoring, advanced trainings, symposiums, retreats and monthly case reviews.

Karen is a blogger, an author, and a national speaker, who has developed frameworks to address health care reforms within and beyond maternal/child health. Her First Year Specialist/Postpartum Doula Certification program and WisdomWay Doula offerings synthesize her recognized leadership in the field with greater aims to improve healthcare more broadly. She has also provided programs that support the family caregiver, and WisdomWay Institute is creating a Certification in Centered Care for health professionals under her leadership. She has authored and developed curriculums around the 6 Qualities of Embodied Mindfulness, the Compass of Mindful Caregiving and is the creator of 40-second Compassion Initiatives, patient and family engagement & advocacy tools and other publications aimed at shifting healthcare towards greater equity, safety, dignity and compassion. Her collaborations with other experts offer learning retreats and on-site trainings that establish the foundational skills that support Relationship-Centered Care, Trauma -Informed Care/Healing Informed Care, and Anti-bias/Equity.

Karen believes that we have a basic goodness and desire to be in caring relationships with one another and that the skills of awareness and self-compassion, when tended, make us more resilient and effective in those relationships.

From being with friends in their final days, serving as a professional and family caregiver, and teaching and mentoring, she has cultivated ways to be a midwife to others. In her view, both care-giver and care-receiver hold the potential for healing and transformation in the care relationship.

Karen lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her partner, her daughter, and their two Welsh Springer Spaniels. She is an active member and facilitator of a Kilyanna Mitta group and is involved in an LGBTQ+ sangha and an Insight Meditation community, where she completed a 13 month Theraveda training with Jan Sheppard. She leads meditation retreats throughout the U.S.

When we get caught up in hope, happiness relies on a certain outcome. To be a heartful caregiver, we abandon that ‘goal’ oriented way of thinking and we train to be in full and fearless contact with what is actually happening, not what might be or what might be escaped. When we convey confidence, and compassion, we offer something more unconditional, more authentic, than hope. Hope can come and go, but this kind of caring, is boundless. – Karen Laing

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If you want to help families start out strong and you’re ready to be a part of a new paradigm in compassionate healthcare, check out our available courses and sign up below to stay connected.

"Let’s do this work together to bring the kind of caring presence that heals."

Karen Laing