Monday, 4 March 2013

Monday Feature: From Womb to Cradle Doula Services, Inc

Being a mother and now having experienced pregnancy, labour, child birth, and life beyond as a momma, I understand the fear of the unknown. A new mom doesn't know what to expect with the stages of pregnancy, what it will be like to go through labour and child birth, and then the up-side-down life of craziness, lack of sleep, and whirlwind of newness that encompasses every moment thereafter. It's quite a ride. Even if you are a reader or a researcher (as I am), one really has no idea what to expect as every experience is as different as you are.

This is where having a support person can be absolutely invaluable. Your spouse support is pivotal, however if you're doing this for the first time, chances are, they are too. What I mean is, it's nice to have a third person who can help calm you both and is able to keep their head in any situation that may arise. I, myself, did not have a midwife (there are none that I know of in my city, or I would have tried!) or a doula. I did, however, have a dear friend who was with my husband and I and present for the birth of my daughter.

Having a doula can be just the saving grace you need. They can capture the moments, give you a massage (every labouring woman said "Amen!"), help you deal with the pain, and support you afterwards as well, with nursing and home life.

Today's feature is on just such a doula and a lovely woman, Michelle Maisonville of From Womb to Cradle Doula Services. A friend of mine, who had her daughter shortly after my daughter was born, had Michelle as her doula and could only speak praise of the experience. For all of you soon-to-be or one-day-to-be mommas, read on! This could be the key to a beautiful experience in childbirth for you.

Michelle recalls her journey to becoming a doula, "[It] began in my childhood. I've always had a heart for expectant mothers and their little ones, always keeping them in my prayers. I was a sensitive child, emotionally and physically. As far as birth was concerned, I had been told by a relative that I probably would have to be "knocked out" by the doctor, as I wouldn't be able to handle the pain. This statement made a huge impact on me."

Michelle gave birth to her first child in the Spring of 2003. After opting for an epidural within an hour of arriving at the hospital, her decision led to a "cascade of interventions", each growing more serious. This, coupled with the fact that her daughter was in an odd position, led to a forceps delivery after 4 hours of pushing and all other measures were tried and exhausted.

"I don't remember her being born. I didn't bond well with her and she never breastfed. Never. We both had significant birth trauma."

After this first birth experience, Michelle wanted something different. "When I became pregnant with my son, shortly after my daughter's first birthday, I sought out the care of a midwife (we lived in Edmonton), however midwives were not covered by Alberta healthcare at the time. We tried a funded program in Stony Plain, but could not continue to make the journey. I sought advice from other mothers and they suggested I hire a doula. We found one who shared our family's beliefs and was able to meet us where we were financially at the time. My birth with my son was so healing! Our doula supported us through everything. She met with us during my pregnancy, supported my decision to breastfeed (which was a big reason I wanted a doula and a natural birth) and shared many resources and a lot of encouragement. When I went into labour, she was there. She used massage and accupressure to help me find relief. She took amazing photos of my husband and I and our son after he was born. The birth? Well, it was natural and beautiful. I felt every movement and remember each moment clearly. My son latched on right after birth. I felt so empowered!"

Michelle awaiting delivery and then holding her boy, Nicolaus

Michelle and her family moved from Edmonton to Medicine Hat a few months after her son was born. She then began researching natural birthing options in the area. Where they were living, there was only one practicing doula. "I decided in 2008 that I wanted to share the amazing experience that birth can be with other women and their families." Thus she began her training as a doula, first with DONA International, and then she later certified with Childbirth International.

"Over the past four and a half years, I have been blessed to support families in Southern Alberta, through the most amazing time in their lives, the birth of their children. It's awe-inspiring, humbling work." Michelle has recently relocated from Medicine Hat to Lethbridge and is working on establishing her practice there. "As a doula, I offer emotional, physical and informational support to mothers, their partners and their families. I feel that because birth is such an intimate event, it is very important to build a relationship of trust with the families I work with. For that reason, I try to make sure I see families monthly during pregnancy. We discuss the mother's wishes for birth, practice labour positions, write a birth map with ideal scenarios for birth, as well as the possible detours that may arise. We explore feeding options; doulas are very supportive of breastfeeding and love to share resources! We also work on a postpartum plan for when the family brings home their new baby."

Once labour commences, Michelle is with the family as soon as they want her to be there. She stays throughout labour, the birth and a few hours following the birth. "One thing that is unique about my practice is that I also try to give a lot of support postpartum. I usually do several visits within the first six weeks to see how mom is doing emotionally and physically. I love to help out with household chores. Just hand me a basket of laundry and I'll go to it! We also discuss any feeding concerns mom may have and I provide references to lactation professionals, etc."

"Having a doula during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum period is like having an encyclopedia, a bag full of labour tools, and a birth-savvy servant, all in one."

Traditionally, women have always attended women in childbirth, which you will still find in many cultures around the world today. So then, why is a doula helpful? Well, if what has been shared already isn't enough, Michelle explains a bit more. "We know exactly how it feels to give birth. We know how it feels to want to give up because it gets so hard. We also know the amazing feelings of elation that go along with having the birth you desire. In addition, we are trained in the physiology of birth, so we can "see" how it works, just by closing our eyes. We have learned comfort measures to help you make it through labour, without using pharmacological pain relief, if that is what you desire. We also understand how different pain relief methods work and effect labour, if you are thinking about using medication. We're mothers, so we understand any fears or concerns you may have during your pregnancy or after birth. Most importantly, we know how much your partner means to you and how important he or she is to the birthing process. For that reason, we never replace your partner as your primary support person. We can help him or her work better with you and overcome any fears of 'doing something wrong.'"

"I love my work. I adore it! Not a day goes by that I'm not studying or involved in some sort of work pertaining to birth and parenthood. Passion is very important in my line of work! My greatest joy is seeing a happy, healthy family beginning their journey together. I cherish being included in these special moments."

If you are considering starting a family, or are pregnant and feel this might be what you would like or need, please look into the option of a doula, and if you're in Lethbridge or area, please check out Michelle. You won't be disappointed!

For further information on Michelle Maisonville, CD(CBI) of From Womb to Cradle Doula Services, Inc, or to find more information on having a doula, please go to Michelle's website at

You can also contact Michelle directly by either email
or by Phone at 403-942-6276.

Please check out From Womb to Cradle's Facebook page here for information and "like" it too!
You can also follow From Womb to Cradle on Twitter

If you are currently looking for a doula or find yourself in the situation of looking for one in the next several months :), From Womb to Cradle is offering Growing Green readers a special discount on doula services. Simply use the PROMO CODE: wombtocradle on growing green and receive a discount of $100 on doula services within the Lethbridge city limits or receive a discount of $50 for births in surrounding areas (i.e. Taber, Raymond etc). This special expires November 30th, 2013!

Happy Birthing mommas!!!!

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