Last October, I began working on an essay called the Doula Project. The essay is a photographic documentary following several of Edmonton/Sherwood Park's local Doula's, documenting client consults, meetings and educating their clients. Being a doula is so much more than what I imagined. To honour the Doula's I have worked with, and those I have yet to meet, THANK YOU for making a difference and changing the way women have gone through birth and have come to view birth differently! Today, I'm glad to have the honour of featuring Pam Davey, from Birthing Since Forever.
What exactly is a doula?
A doula is a professional hired by an expectant couple to provide physical, emotional and informational support to them before, during and after the birth of their baby.
What first inspired you to become a Doula?
Someone told me I should be a doula many years ago, when my first child was just a toddler. I brushed it aside. Then a few years after that, in 2003, I was invited to a friend's birth and it transformed me. I knew I wanted to be a part of more births and assist Moms while they were in labour, in any way they needed.
How long have you been serving as a Doula?
I did that first birth in July 2003. Then took the DONA birth doula course in the winter of 2004. I attended more births and became a DONA certified doula in 2006!
Is there a difference between having a Doula vs having a Midwife?
Yes...there is a huge difference in their scope of practice!! A midwife is your primary care provider for your pregnancy, just like your doctor would be if you did not have a midwife. She is focused on the mother and baby's health, sees you quite frequently throughout the pregnancy, arrives in time to catch the baby and has a few appointments with your postpartum. A doula is your labour support person. She meets with you about 2-3 times in your pregnancy to really get to know the couple and their hopes for their baby's birth. She comes to you as soon as you feel you need her in labour (before the midwife would be there) and will have 1-2 visits with you after the baby is born.
One example is that your doula may do a lot of hands on labour support with you during labour but your midwife will be the one checking your dilation and fetal heart tones.
What types of things do you do to offer a labouring mom support?
Well each birth is completely unique so you follow the Mom's original wishes and gauge how she is coping in labour. Here are some examples of things a doula might do: She'll be there for emotional support since birth is so emotionally charged for both Mom and Dad. She will provide the reassurance and encouragement that they both need, massage and other comfort measures to help the Mom manage her contractions more comfortably,suggest positions and changes to help ease pain and facilitate a smoother, more effective labour, to create a soothing birthing space with aromatherapy, music, candles. She will be there to talk the Mom through any emotional blockages which can come up in labour, she can't take away the physical and emotional pain but can allow you to experience what is happening with love and understanding. Your Doula, can encourage and support you as you deal with staff at the hospital, or people in your home, to ensure your wishes are being met, a doula will cheer you on, gently reminding you that you are perfectly made to birth this baby. She will celebrate as you get through each contraction!
What’s a key factor for a mom to have a successful labour?
That she feels heard. That she knows someone is there beside her, listening to her, supporting her and encouraging her. She knows best what she needs as the labour unfolds.
When you attend a birth, what tools do you use to help your client through labour?
I like to have a lot of tools on hand, just in case. I have numerous massage tools and various natural massage oils. I have a lavender scented wheat bag that we can heat up as well as moxa heat packs. A kneeler if the Mom needs it, a rebozo, a mirror, fans, reflex balls in different sizes, battery operated candles, honey sticks for energy. I have a birth ball with a cover, a birth pool with all the extras needed for a waterbirth and much more...
A piece of advice you’d share with expecting moms?
Even when you are a little old lady, you will never forget the birth of each of your children. It is an experience in your life that you will recall vividly forever. Research your options, decide what you want...and make it happen!
Thank you Pam, you are an amazing Doula among many. I know that so many of your couples that you have worked with express their Thanks!