Q. When did you train with WOMBS?
I trained w WOMBS in 2009. I also trained w Michel Odent and Liliana Lammers, attending their paramana doula course in 2010.
Q. Why did you decide to become a doula?
Since the very exhilirating and empowering experience of giving birth to my first child, my aim has always been to study midwifery. I did not want to go the nursing route, so spent a long time researching other options of studying midwifery. I also plopped out another three babies along the way When my youngest daughetr was 2 weeks old, I found out a way of being able to study midwifery through the North American Registry of Midwives, whilst still based in South Africa and by becoming apprenticed to South African independent midwives.
This felt like the right route for me. But before committing to this 4 year or so process, I decided that I needed to first really experience and immerse myself in birth and see whether I had the stuff needed to attend births. My friend Caitlyn Collins had done the WOMBS course and recommended it to me. Along with my friend Lee Armstrong, I signed up and we drove every last Saturday of the month, along the coastal road from Muizenberg, to the Vergelegen Medi Clinic in Somerset West. Needless to say, the course got me hooked on being there for women, and with my first birth, I knew I was in the right place.
I began my midwifery training very soon after becoming a doula. I am so very glad I did my doula training before studying midwifery. It really gave me the right angle to come in at – that of seeing and being with the mother before anything else.
Q. How has becoming a doula changed your life?
Initially, attending the WOMBS doula course, put a new spring in my step! That is the best way for me to put it. Being able to sit with like minded women, discussing birth, babies, women, human rights, etc brought a real feeling of coming home. I had such fun! Becoming a doula also gave me the energy, the confidence and the momentum to study midwifery. Becoming a doula also gave me the tools to really be with women. I still very strongly believe that all midwives SHOULD attend a doula course.
Q. What would you say to someone who is thinking of training as a doula with the hopes of making a living from it?
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! And after laughing for ten minutes, I would wipe my tears away, thank the person for providing me with a good reason to heartily laugh and then explain that being a doula is a vocation, a calling, it is something you do for the love of it, not because you can make a living from it. That to get into it becuase you think you are going to earn from it, is the wrong reason to get into it. You may eventually earn a steady income from it but after much blood, sweat, tears, freebies, volunteer work, etc. Being a doula is hard work and the pay is never enough. But the gratitude of mothers is priceless and that is why we keep doing it.
Q. Tell us more about you
I was born in Switzerland to a South African mother and Irish father. I moved to SA when I was 8. I grew up on a farm outside Ceres (but attended school in Cape Town) where my mother became the local midwife to the farm labourers. So I very much grew up with ‘natural’ birth happening all around me and it was only natural when I fell pregnant myself at 20 that my mother be my midwife. After 12 hours of labour I gave birth to my first born son. He weighed 5kgs. My other three babies were born when I was living in Cape Town and with private midwives in attendance. All were hard work but they were all good experiences. My claim to fame is giving birth to a 5,47kg baby (my third child) after 2 1/2 hours of labour. We got to be in the newspaper for that one
I trained as a midwife from 2009 to 2013 with the NARM and qualified as a Certified Professional Midwife in Sep 2013. I currently assist at home births and work as a doula/montrice.
I am a firece advocate of women’s rights, especially when it comes to pregnancy, child birth and early motherhood. This is such a vulnerable time and unfortunately society does not see what the needs of women are during these times to be better mothers.
I am the mother of 4 children – all home schooled (you know: home made, home birthed, home schooled…basically we are just super lazy and never want to leave home 😉
I am the author of a book based on the work of Dr. Michel Odent called The Basic Needs of a Woman in Labour. You can order it > here <
He recently had this to say about it:
There are two important published documents about birth physiology and the basic needs of labouring women. The first one is an enormous book written thousands of years ago. In the very first pages of this bestseller, there are some lines suggesting an association between the consumption of the fruit of the tree of knowledge (translate knowing too much or having developed a powerful neocortex) and the difficulties of human birth. At the end of this book, we can read about the birth of a legendary man whose mission was to promote love. His mother found a strategy to overcome the human handicap: with humility she gave birth among non-human mammals, in a stable. The second document is the opposite of the first one in terms of size. It is a booklet by Ruth Ehrhrardt. To bring together what is important in such a small number of pages is a feat. I hope that, on the five continents, all pregnant women, midwives, doulas, doctors, etc. will take the time to assimilate the contents of this chef d’oeuvre: it will be a turning point in the history of childbirth and therefore in the history of mankind.
I also teach Helping Babies Breathe, a basic neonatal resuscitation course. This is perfect for doulas, in fact anyone attaneding births should do this course. Anyone wanting to arrange a course is free to contact me.
I also run Home Birth South Africa ( www.homebirth.org.za) with fellow partner in crime, master doula Lana (known as the Doula Lana, her zen/buddha like nature will bring calmness to any birthing environment). HBSA is a web based data base of info and stories pertaining to Home Birth within the South African context. We have been running that since 2010. We also run the quarterly home birth gatherings, an ooportunity for expectant parents to find information and support for their choice to birth at home. It is also a place where midwives, doulas and families who have birthed at home come and share their experiences and knowledge. The next one is on the 1st of March from 2-4 pm in Muiznebreg
I am also part of the amazing team that organises the Cape Town Mdiwifery and Birth Conference
My personal website and blog is: truemidwifery.com