Meet Jennifer. Her passion for birth began at 12. However her practical thinking got in the way. She quickly learned that for her, believing in herself and what she did for work was vital. Now she owns 2 small businesses and is rocking the birth world in Labrador City and Wabush, Newfoundland.
Why am I a doula? And why should you care? To explain my journey I will need to go WAY back to the beginning... well, to when I was 12 years old (THAT beginning is a story only my mom can tell!). At the ripe old age of 12 my passion for birth began. 12?!?!? You might say, in varying degrees of alarm! But don’t worry, it wasn’t as bad as it seems. I knew I wanted to work with babies, and moms went to the hospital to have their babies (something I would later learn is not always the case), so I put two and two together and got nurse.
But you’re not a nurse, you’re a doula.... I know! I know! Let me continue.
As a child and even into my early adulthood I had never heard of a doula. You see, I live in an isolated community where we have been known to be sheltered from the “real world”. A Birth Doula is a relatively new concept to my hometown, and some other birth related professions (such as midwives) do not practice here at all. So, in my tiny twelve year old mind that left nurses and doctors.
This all boiled down to my very narrow minded, 12 year old thoughts... a young girl who loved children, knew nothing about birth (except that it happened) and therefore decided to become a nurse.
Fast forward about a decade and where was I? Not a nurse! Somewhere along the way I realized that nurses have to do A LOT of work. HARD WORK. This is not to say that I, or any other individuals who are not nurses don’t work hard. It just means that I realized a nurse gets stuck with all of the difficult jobs, long hours, and often underappreciated work. Nurses are AMAZING, but I didn’t want to be one.
I wanted babies! All of the babies! I wanted to help families on their journey into parenthood and show them that it will be ok! That they can do this and they will rock it! ALL of it: pregnancy, birth and parenthood.
Unfortunately, by this time I had realized that I was a “grown up” and needed to get a job. I wanted to work with babies, but I didn’t want all of the other responsibilities that came with being a nurse. So where did that leave me? Studying to be a Pharmacy Technician at Niagara College in Welland, Ontario. I know! I know! But that is a “real job”. A job I had to go to school for and it didn’t involve babies?!?! What was I thinking?
In hindsight, I didn’t know at the time what I know now. I just knew that a person has to live and to live a person has to work. So, I studied hard, graduated and then worked in my field for about a year until.... my nervous breakdown... Yeah, I am THAT guy. The one who fell apart within a year of becoming an independent adult. In all fairness though, I had suffered with anxiety for the majority of my life and I was still only newly learning to cope with all of the changes that come with growing up.
Luckily for me I have an INCREDIBLE support system. Everyone was so understanding and they all seemed to know what to do to help me get through the worst of it. Believe me, I know how genuinely blessed that makes me!
During that time, my boyfriend (now husband) and I agreed that it would not be in my best interest to return to work right away. So here I was; an emotional disaster who was jobless with no clear view of her future. I felt like I was at the bottom of a very dark pit and my shovel was only helping to tear more dirt out from under my feet.
And then it happened. IT! The moment I was waiting for my entire life. At 24 years old I heard the word doula for the first time. Not only to I HEAR it, but an instructor was coming to town to train a group of women how to become one! That’s right! You did hear me correctly! I know it is a lot to take in and let me tell you, I couldn’t believe it myself!
Within a matter of 3 months I went from not knowing what a doula was to beginning my certification process to become one through Doula Training Canada. Have you ever had that moment? The one where you knew this is what you were meant to do and these are the people you are meant to do it with?! Then you know exactly how I felt! If not, keep searching because I know it is out there for you <3
Every part of my being knew instantly that this is what I was my calling. Was it going to be easy? Nothing worth having ever is. But I didn’t care. I wanted it, and I was going to have it. I was finally going to have ALL of the babies!
So here we are. Two year later and I am a certified Birth Doula, a certifying Childbirth Educator and a certifying Postpartum Doula with a never ending list of dreams and educational opportunities. I get to wake up every morning doing what I love (I KNOW RIGHT?!?!) and I have been able to meet so many incredible individuals along the way.
So?!?! What is a Birth Doula?
A Birth Doula is an individual who is trained in emotional, informational and physical support for expectant families during pregnancy, labour, birth and the early postpartum period. I am NOT a medical professional! You’re nurses and doctor(s) are amazing at this and they do not need me! I am there for YOU. To help YOU figure out what you want from your birth. To help YOU focus, relax and breathe through your labour. To help your partner or support person help YOU.
Jennifer Byrne Labour and Birth and Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator,
Bellies Birth and Beyond www. belliesbirthandbeyond.ca
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