What inspired you to become a doula?
I have always loved pregnancy, birth and babies. Even from a young age I was amazed seeing a woman’s pregnant belly and wanted to hear about their birth. I was always looking after babies and young kids in my teenage years, and when it came time to think about what I would like to do when I left school, I initially thought about becoming a midwife.
Given my age, I would have been graduating when I was 20, and I realised it was a lot of responsibility while still being so young myself. Instead, I became a third generation Registered Nurse in 2012. I was able to gain a broad understanding about many different areas of nursing and enjoyed caring for a variety of patients within the surgical sector.
This didn’t stop me from reading about birth, listening to multiple podcasts about birth education and birth stories, watching tv about birth, always wanting to hear friends birth stories and helping them during the postpartum period.
After having two amazing birth experiences with our boys, I began to realise I was often in the minority of women who felt really positive about their birth experience. It was around this time I started hearing the word ‘Doula’ used when women described who they had supporting them throughout their pregnancy, birth and postpartum journey. I looked into what a Doula was, and about the support they provided, and thought wow, what an amazing service to be able to provide to women.
The research also showed the positive outcomes women can have by having continuity of care, and I thought this is what I want to do! I want more women to walk away following their birth feeling positive about their experience. After having 10.5 years of clinical experience nursing, I was ready to take a step back and work in a space I have always loved, and provide the care and support all women deserve during this sacred time.
What training and certifications do you have?
I am a Registered Nurse and I’m completing my Doula training through the Australian Doula College, I will be certified after my final two student births in October. I have also done my CORE Advanced CPR Training and a Safeguarding Children Workshop. I am also about to commence Birth Cartographer Training (birth mapping).
What is your philosophy on birth?
I believe all women are designed to birth, and should be supported to birth in the way they desire. If women are left to birth undisturbed then I feel that their body and baby innately know how to work together during this incredible process.
I believe if women and their birth partner can be educated about labour and birth, they will feel knowledgeable and empowered going into their birth experience and be able to advocate confidently, making informed decisions for what they would like, leading to better outcomes for Mum and baby, and an overall better birth experience.
I feel that the birth experience can directly impact the postpartum period in many ways, such as your breastfeeding journey, bonding with baby, emotional, mental and physical recovery, the relationship with your partner, so it is important to me to support parents in a way that will set them up for a positive transition into parenthood.
You are our first Kiwi Stockist, what drew you to our birth affirmation and milestone cards?
I used positive affirmations during my pregnancies that were stuck on my mirror, and I would read them every day. They helped me to get in a positive mindset going into labour and birth and I know they are beneficial for so many women, this lead me to looking for a product to add to my Doula bag that client’s would be able to use throughout their pregnancy and in their birth space if they wished to do so.
When I came across the Best Birth Co affirmation and milestone cards I was drawn to the beautiful illustrations, images, colours and phases. I also liked that there are blank cards for women to fill out with affirmations that resonate with them, so each pack can become special and unique. I felt like they would be a great addition to my offerings, and on arrival I like the large size, they are easy to read from a distance when set up in the birth space.
“As a Doula I will respect the birthing wishes of the mother, and provide physical and emotional support, while also holding space and allowing her to birth in her power.“
What are your services as a doula?
I provide pregnancy, birth and postpartum support to women and their birth partner. I have created four different packages depending on how much input and support a family may like, and this can be tailored to meet the individual needs of each client.
My services include antenatal education and preparation to ensure families feel informed, confident and excited going into birth. I can attend the labour and birth if clients would like this, and I also provide in-home hands-on support in the fourth trimester.
This includes bringing meals, helping with light house duties, having a birth debrief, gentle feeding and baby sleep and settling support, and so much more. I am there with an extra pair of hands to hold both the mother and the baby as they navigate newborn life together.
How do you support families during labour and delivery?
I go on call for families from 37-42 weeks and beginning supporting them through the labour and birth process whenever they wish for me to be there.
As a Doula I will respect the birthing wishes of the mother, and provide physical and emotional support, while also holding space and allowing her to birth in her power. I will support all women no matter where or how they choose to birth, and create a space where both the mother and their birth partner feel comfortable, safe and supported.
I will use tools such as acupressure, massage, rebozo, positive affirmations, optimal maternal positioningand aromatherapy to provide comfort throughout labour. I will advocate if needed, to ensure the mother’s birth wishes are maintained and respected, while also providing support and encouragement to the birth partner.
What are some of the challenges you face as a doula?
I think one of the hardest things about becoming a Doula is educating people on what the role of a Doula is, and the services they provide. Many people haven’t heard of a Doula before, and often don’t know they exist, especially where I live! Doula’s are a relatively new support to Mum’s here in New Zealand, and as there aren’t many around, they aren’t well known about within our community.
How do you stay up-to-date on the latest research and practices in childbirth?
The main way I stay up to date about the latest practices and research in regards to childbirth is listening to podcasts that cover the most current research and are very evidence based.
Signing up to the emailing list also means you get sent the articles or links to the research to have on hand. Also, by listening to podcasts with women who have birthed recently and how their birth experienced played out, this will often give an insight as to how things can unfold in the birth space.
I also like to read books, some are new and have been published recently, but I also like to have some older ones on hand that reinforce the natural physiology of birth where there is very little intervention or medicalised care involved, it’s great bringing birth back to basics at times.
Social media is also an amazing place to now have as an information source to stay up to date on new practices and research as it evolves. Being able to follow reputable accounts and health professionals means you can learn new things almost daily!
What are some of the benefits of having a doula?
I believe one of the most beneficial aspects of hiring a Doula is that they provide you with continuity of care. Depending on the model of care you have throughout pregnancy, some women may not see the same healthcare provider during their pregnancy, birth and postpartum period.
However, if this is the case, having a Doula on your birth team will at least mean you have someone who gets to know you and your birth partner and they can support you throughout the whole journey of pregnancy, birth and beyond.
Research shows that one of the most important factors when it comes to having a positive birth experience is having continuity of care, and that’s what a Doula can provide.
What do you think is the most important thing for a family to know about childbirth?
That it is so important to surround yourself with a great birth team and support system that are 100% on board with your birth wishes and preferences. It is also really important to be educated and informed about birth and how it can unfold.
A lot of women are happy to “go with the flow,” but then when things deviate from how they envisioned birth unfolding, they are confronted by all these things they didn’t know about, and have to make decisions under pressure. This can lead to a negative or traumatic birth experience.
It is fine not to have a set ‘plan’ but it is also really important to be educated on all variations of birth, interventions, different forms of pain relief etc, so if/ when these things arise during labour, they have already been discussed and thought about so you can make an informed decision, and not feel pressured into anything.
What advice would you give to a pregnant woman who is considering hiring a doula?
It is important to invest in yourself, your pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience. It is going to be one of the most important, transformational and memorable times of your life, so why wouldn’t you ensure you were surrounded by a great support team to help facilitate this?
It is not just the hands-on support and education a Doula provides that is beneficial, it’s having someone you can text or call at anytime if needed. A Doula is there to support you from the time you engage in their services, so they can essentially walk alongside you for months on end.
What are some of the things you do during the postpartum period?
We have a birth debrief, I provide a meal, snacks and drink at each visit, support is given with feeding, baby settling and sleep. I can assist with light housework or household tasks, meal prep or cooking, give support with siblings, provide a listening ear and an extra pair of hands to help hold Mum and her baby.
I can be there to provide support to Mum or the family however they may need it at that time.
How can you help families with breastfeeding?
I can help to troubleshoot problems they may be having, answer any questions, suggest different feeding positions, advise how the partner could help in regards to supporting Mum while she’s breastfeeding.
I can also suggest other resources or services like local lactation consultants, or breastfeeding support groups if Mum needs some more input. I am also there to provide support, encouragement and reassurance as breastfeeding can often be a tricky thing for both Mum and baby to learn.
What are some of the resources you offer families?
I have a TENS machine for women to use, a lending library of books, a pack of Best Birth Co affirmation cards women can borrow, LED candles and fairy lights to set up the birth space, diffuser and essential oils, I have created a local resource list for women so they can find other health practitioners if needed.
Learn more about Courtney here.
If you are a New Zealand Mumma looking for our Positive Birth Affirmation Cards and Milestone Cards you can buy them locally from Bump & Beyond here.
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