To kick off our ASK A series, TWO DOULAS talks to … well, two doulas to find out how we serve new and expectant families. In Part One, we sit down with Birth Doula Jenny Gold. In Part Two we ask Postpartum Doula Lee Springer what she does all day.
Jenny Gold is a birth doula and one half of TWO DOULAS. She has been working with families preparing for birth and supporting them through it since 2012. When she is not massaging, encouraging and soothing her clients, she can be found frolicking with her geriatric pets and young family.
How would you describe your job in just one sentence?
I am a person who has no baggage of my own at your birth, who is willing to take on any supporting role that you find soothing, comforting, or helpful (as long as it is legal) and who will help you identify what that may be by getting you all of the information you need to make your own decisions from a place of knowledge and security.
What made you want to be a birth doula?
I had a doula at the birth of my both of my children and I am very glad that I did. However, that wasn’t what lit the fire. I think sometimes we find ourselves accidentally doing something that rings a bell so loudly it cannot be ignored, and that is what happened when my sister-in-law gave birth. I happened to be visiting her for the weekend towards the end of her pregnancy and she happened to go into labour. Though she had other support, she decided she needed me to stay. And when a labouring woman tells you to stay, you stay! So I had my first experience of supporting a birth and it was the hardest, most rewarding, greatest rush I had ever had. It changed everything and I decided I needed some skills to go with my new-found passion so I trained as a birth doula and haven’t looked back.
How can expectant parents benefit from your services?
Whether it is the first baby or they are experienced parents, birth can be unpredictable. By hiring me they are ensuring that there will be someone who will provide continual, unconditional support to the birthing parent AND the other member(s) of the family. During the prenatal meetings I have with my clients we discuss all the ways I might be helpful, useful, comforting, and also, strategies for the partner to use so we all work as a team to support the birth. It is reassuring to have a familiar and calm presence who they know well at the birth, and this in turn promotes relaxation and reduces fear. Less fear and more calm means fewer interventions and a lower rate of surgical birth.
And if the birth ends up being a cesarean either because of a complication during labour or because it is planned with the healthcare provider ahead of time, I can help prepare the partner for what to expect during the surgery and how they can help the birthing parent feel as good as possible/if the client has no other support at the birth I can go into the operating room. After the surgery I can help initiate breastfeeding, enable skin-to-skin, and just as with a vaginal birth, make sure everyone is feeling safe and comfortable after baby is born.
What happens at your first meeting with an expectant parent?
At our first meeting, I ask a lot of questions relating to general health, nutrition, wellness during this pregnancy, and some basic personal information. I invite my client to ask me questions as well, and I outline the various comfort measures I can use to help them feel good both prenatally and during labour. From there we often just chat, start to talk about wants, fears, and priorities for the pregnancy and birth, and plan our next meeting.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about your field?
The biggest misconception people have about doula work is that you only need a doula if you are planning a natural birth. I can confidently say that we are amazing to have at births with epidurals! And other common medical interventions. I don’t judge or assign values to someone else’s experience I want my clients to make choices and decisions that are right for THEM. I support unconditionally, meaning that I don’t care what people want or don’t want, I care whether they are respected, heard, and honoured in their birth. So yeah, doulas for everybody!
What do you love most about working with expectant parents?
Babies are cute. Babies are awesome! But what I love most is being allowed into the intimate space where ordinary people are transformed. Watching birth and the creation of new parents will never get old. Each birth is unique and every time I see parents meet their baby for the first time, and I stand quietly in awe. I have the best job.