As I started my journey to be a Doula and began to share with others what I hoped to accomplish, it was very common to see the questioning look in their eyes underneath a raised brow. “A doula! What is that?”, someone would ask. I’ll be honest. A few years ago, I didn’t really know what a Doula was. All I knew is that they had something to do with delivering a baby, but what role they played and how it differed from a midwife, nurse and physician, I didn’t really have a clue.
So what is a doula and why did I become one?
According to the Miriam Webster a doula is “a person trained to provide advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth”. Doulas of North America International (dona.org) defines a doula as, “a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.”
So why did I want to become one? 5 years ago, I would never have guessed that becoming a doula was in my future. But 5 years ago, I was thrown into a world I had no clue how to navigate. Pregnancy in of itself can be challenging to face with so many changes to your body and the anticipation of a major life changing event is about to happen. It’s a lot to take on. My husband and I were expecting our first child. Neither of us were at all prepared for how our world would be rocked. Our baby girl was diagnosed with Bi-lateral Renal Agenesis at 20 weeks. The absence of both kidneys. Should was not expected to survive. We felt lost. We had no clue as to what we were supposed to do. We didn’t know where to look for help. What were our options and what did those options mean?
Our doctors didn’t even really know who could help us. A lot of the support we found were for after loss. But for us who was still carrying our baby, we couldn’t find support. We felt alone and helpless. And we so badly needed help. Advice. Just knowing we weren’t alone. A pastor couple who actually married my husband and I reached out to us. A family member of theirs had gone through a similar situation where their baby had passed. They offered us counseling and spiritual support, even a list of tips and suggestions from their family member on what we could do to make the best of what we were facing. Our burden was a little bit lighter thanks to our pastor and his wife. After the loss of our daughter, followed by a miscarriage, our rainbow baby James and a second miscarriage, it become more and more clear that I wanted to be the help that was at the time so hard for us to find. To be a support to someone experiencing a miscarriage, stillbirth or fatal diagnosis. To supporting through the high anxiety of a subsequent pregnancy.
As a StillBirthday doula, I am trained to provide support prior to, during and after delivery in any trimester and in all outcomes. That means the good and the bad, when things go as expected or when the unexpected happens. During the joyful times. During the heartbreaking times. I’m here to hold that space for you, to help you know your options so you can better navigate your pregnancy. It’s your body. It’s your baby. It’s your birthing experience.
Geoff and toni Brabec
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