The Birth of a Doula

I thought I would share the story of how I came to be working as a doula and why I’m so passionate about all things birth.

Interestingly it all starts about 33 years ago when at the age of 20, upon meeting the father of my children I was introduced to alternative health.  For a few years I dabbled with fasting, mono diets, raw food and veganism, interspersed with periods of late-night partying, drinking and other dubious activities that we all got up to in our early twenties.  It was during one of these late-night parties that I met Leanne* who was 6-7 months pregnant at the time and was a picture of glowing health and prudence.  We became fast friends and started spending more and more time together.

Leanne was having a home birth which seemed like the most natural thing in the world.  Come to think of it, numerous other friends and acquaintances at the time were also having home births, many of them living off the grid and practicing alternative health.  This was Cairns, North Queensland in the early 90’s. 

This was a time of many changes in my life; I left my government job to buy a pizza shop and also decided to pursue my newfound passion for alternative health.  I started studying remedial massage, reiki and aromatherapy.  My friend Leanne had her beautiful home birth, and I was also invited to attend another friend’s homebirth and that’s where I met Erin*, a home birth midwife.  Babies were being born all around me and before I knew it that magical clock that is hidden deep inside, finally started ticking loud enough for me to hear it. 

My partner and I decided we were ready to have a baby, but first I needed to detox!  I had been on the pill for over 10 years and wanted to ensure that this was fully out of my system before trying to conceive.  I did a 10-day retreat which was focused on fasting and raw food.  I came away from that experience feeling amazing and convinced that a raw plant-based diet was definitely the way to go.  I took my temperature, checked my mucus and diligently tracked my cycle.  I think it was a short 3 months later that the two little pink stripes on the stick revealed that I was indeed pregnant!

I knew from the outset that I would have a home birth.  From that moment on, I consumed everything written on the subject of natural birth (along with all the food I could get my hands on).  I called Erin and booked her in. I continued working in our pizza shop up until early labour, I even delivered a pizza on my way home while having mild contractions! 

Ten hours later my daughter was born on a warm, tropical January morning to a chorus of frogs.  Our breastfeeding journey was not as straightforward as her birth and we struggled for several weeks, but I have a stubborn streak and there was no way I was giving up. We persevered and went on to breastfeed for a beautiful 18 months, when low and behold I found out I was pregnant with number two 😊. 

This time I wanted a water birth, unfortunately it didn’t quite work out and I ended up labouring in the water but having to stand up to give birth.  It was an equally beautiful experience and the perfect end to Christmas day spent with family and friends, yes, my son is a boxing day baby.  Unlike his sister, he took to breastfeeding like a duck to water and didn’t stop for 3 years.

We decided to sell our pizza shop and take some time off, we bought a boat and found ourselves living on a small yacht, moored at the marina in Cairns with two young children on board.  It was an idyllic life and seven months in, just when I was thinking I had my hands full with two children living on board a yacht I found out I was pregnant with number three.  It was time to come back to reality and get working again so we bought another pizza shop and moved ashore.

By this time, my midwife had retired but when I found out I was pregnant I called her and begged her to attend one more birth for me.  Thankfully she agreed, and this time around I finally got my waterbirth, which was absolutely amazing.

Another troublesome breastfeeding journey with number three, which made me realise that even when you have done it before, you haven’t breastfed THIS baby before, and the breastfeeding relationship with each child is different.  We persisted, with the help of the Australian Breastfeeding Association (Nursing Mothers back then), and went on to enjoy breastfeeding for 2 years including a 6-month stint of tandem feeding.

The things that I learnt along the way with my study of alternative health, natural childbirth and breastfeeding have stuck with me.  I think a big part of this is the trust that we place in ourselves, in our baby and in the process.  Another big factor is our support network.  I am forever grateful to have had a supportive partner, who never questioned the choices I made.  I also had supportive parents, my mum was present for all three births, and was such an amazing help during labour.

She tells me now that it was an incredibly healing process for her, as the birth she experienced with me had been traumatic and has left her still dealing with the aftermath to this day.  I’ve often wondered if I am drawn to this work because of that traumatic birth and that this is my own way of healing from it.  I was also supported by my village – the friends who had babies born around the same time, other home birthers and other breastfeeding mums.  We had an amazingly strong support network and some of them I am still friends with today (as are our children).

Fast forward 20 years and my babies have now grown up and moved out of home, not yet having babies of their own, but I will be ready when they are.  I had lost touch for a while with mummas having babies but more recently have felt drawn to their stories when I hear them.  What seems to come up is a lot of trauma and disappointment in the birth process as well as struggle, particularly as a new mum and during the early childhood years. 

I felt that it shouldn’t have to be like that, what was missing? I realised that as wonderful as our medical system is, it is not focused on the experience of birth but more on the outcome.  I believe a healthy mum and baby should not be the only indication of a good birth.  The other thing missing is support, which I was lucky enough to experience during my pregnancies, labour and those early weeks and months.  I had taken it for granted at the time, but can see now how it makes a huge difference and how isolated so many new mums are today.  

The seed had been planted and before I knew it, I was seeing reference to doulas everywhere (I was unaware that doulas even existed before that).  After many years of working in various industries and never really finding fulfillment, I suddenly knew that this is the work that I should be doing.  My study with the Australian Doula College was amazing, so much knowledge shared.  It had me looking deep inside myself and examining my beliefs and values.

Learning about the things that trigger me and the things I needed to let go of to become the best doula I can be.  It has been a very interesting journey.

It is my hope to support as many mums as I can to have an empowering and fulfilling birth experience and for them to feel as supported as possible on their parenthood journey.

* names changed

Contact Me

I wish to empower women to trust their bodies and their ability to birth and to raise their babies with awareness.
If this resonates with you, please get in touch, I would love to chat to you about how I can support you and your family through one of life’s biggest transitions.
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