We have the most amazing team of doulas here at National Capital Doulas. We want to share them with you. We all have our own special reasons, our own story of our why, for doing what we do. Ottawa birth doula extraordinaire, Jennifer Cameron, shares her why with us.
Sometimes life takes you in some interesting directions. I had no idea I would change careers at the point in my life that I did, but I felt that it was the right time. In comparison to other doulas that I know, I seemed to have waited so long after my children were born to get started. But those years were for them exclusively and I don’t regret that decision.
I knew that I wanted to help other women experience birth more positively than I had immediately following the birth of my first son in 2003. Those feelings were compounded after I had my second son. Even though I was told by family members that I did “all the right things” and both of my boys were born healthy, I felt something was missing from both experiences. I felt a sense of shame. I learned later it was the result of feeling that birth had happened “to” me and that I wasn’t an empowered participant in my labours. I hadn’t trusted my body or the process. Yes, I had two healthy boys and I was grateful for that, but I could also mourn the experience I had wanted and didn’t have. Those feelings could coexist.
I made fear-based decisions in the moment with both of my labours because I wasn’t aware of all of the options available to me. I didn’t have anyone who was able to tell me that I was safe and everything that I was feeling was normal. It seemed funny that I would feel that way because I had taken childbirth education. I had read the books (All of them. Several times.) and I had brushed up on TLC’s A Baby Story. I couldn’t have been more informed or prepared. This goes to show you that you don’t know what you don’t know. Trust me there was so much that I didn’t know! Add in that some good friends of mine had their baby 6 days before I did, and she had a really hard and long labour and really struggled in those initial days home. Based on the information I DID hae and my lack of knowledge around other things, it was no wonder I made some decisions around the birth of my children that I regret.
If I had have understood more about the process, I may have chosen otherwise.
THIS. This statement is why I felt so drawn to birth work and assisting families in labour. Having my clients remember what happens in their birth space in a positive manner is what drives me.
Do they feel supported?
Do they feel safe?
Do they feel informed?
Do they feel like an active participant in their labour?
Do they feel strong and capable?
Do they know they have options?
Do they feel they have autonomy over their body and the body of their child?
I want the answer to each of these questions to be a resounding yes!
I have even found myself very protective of postpartum space and I share the reasoning behind that with my clients. Just because the baby has been born doesn’t mean the need for support ends. In fact, a case can be made for an increased need for support, validation and encouragement during this time. Clients can borrow my confidence in them and their parenting abilities until they gain their own. It usually doesn’t take long for them to trust themselves and rely on their natural parenting instincts. What it does take to build that confidence is someone who is there cheering you on and assisting you with finding resources and answers to your questions without bias. I operate under a no judgement policy. Each client has the right to make choices that affect their own body and the body of their child and be supported in that choice. I am not living their experience therefore my opinion doesn’t matter. I simply provide them with unbiased, evidence-based information and support them in choosing whatever feels right for them.