My interest in childbirth began after the wonderful natural births of my first three children. After my second child started at school I felt I was ready to begin something just for me. To find something to fill my time with; to find myself again. To pursue a career doing something I felt would make a difference. Breastfeeding and childbirth were both subjects I felt passionate about so it was a natural transition for me, to be drawn to provide support and nurturing for both those important experiences.
I had spent some time with the local Australian Breastfeeding Association group as a Community Educator and soon began to realise that there were lots of birthing mama’s who didn’t have the support of their own mums and sisters and aunts and cousins who traditionally have supported and nurtured us through our childbearing years.
Living in Karratha in North West Western Australia, my options were quite limited. As Direct Entry Midwifery Studies were not an option for me at the time, I decided to focus on other ways that I could be a part of the protection of childbirth as a sacred journey belonging to families. To offer support and guidance where I felt it would have been helpful to me in my times of need as a woman and a new mama.
Whilst researching the options available to me for study, I came across a few websites advertising training courses for Birth Doulas, a doula being described as “one who mothers the mother.” Those words resonated so strongly with me that it felt serendipitous that I should find my calling taking care of mama’s who needed somebody to care for them whilst they took their journey to motherhood.
Having read those words I completely understood that a doula could fill a need in today’s society where childbirth seems to have lost its ‘birthing woman’ focus and has become for the most part, a medicalised procedure that happens ‘to’ women. That the needs and desires of the birthing woman came second to the birth ‘process’ and that the baby must come as quickly as possible to fit guidelines and procedure checklists.
After realising that it was my strong and passionate nature that ensured that my babies were born in a way, which upheld my beliefs and rights as a birthing woman, it became important to me to share my voice with those that have a quieter voice. To empower those who felt they had less courage to speak up and perhaps less support for their choices. To protect the sacredness that is the birth of family.
Online study was a relatively new thing back then and it seemed to fit perfectly with my lifestyle, meaning I could work around my family, being flexible to work at my own pace. I filled my evenings after my own babies were in bed, reading, studying, buying all the birth books I could find and immersing myself in the physiology and nature of all things childbirth. Talking with friends and finding out what helped them during childbirth and after, what they wished they had, what they would do differently and mostly, what they would change if they could do it all again. I learned so much from people. Real people with real experiences who were sometimes left scarred and traumatised by a system that really isn’t in the best interests of a birthing mama, or as it turns out, the father either.
In my role as a birth doula, it was initially my aim to help women who were isolated from family and close friends during the most exciting time in their lives. I aimed to fill a gap in the system, offering information about childbirth choices and current research with no personal agenda or bias. I wanted to reassure women that there was local support for them. For them to be confident enough to birth their babies in the Pilbara and without having to leave their home-town for distant places to birth their babies. To show them that they didn’t need to leave town for unfamiliar surroundings and their home comforts as they spent the first 4-6 weeks settling in to new family life.
End of Part One.