When I was a baby doula, I put all my focus of getting my clients informed of everything that could come their way. I did this because of my own personal experience. As a first time parent, I did the common "go with the flow" technique which really for me meant putting my hands up and releasing responsibility over the experience and the outcome of my birth. With the second baby, I became so hyper focused on flipping that, and getting super informed about everything. I remember reading the line "If you don't know your options, you don't have any" from Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer and it really struck me. Because of that, I thought that I had to spend all my time getting to know everything so that I always had options.
This is what lead my approach to birth work in the first few years of my career. I would do these long 2.5-3 hour prenatals and flood my clients with information. They often looked overwhelmed and I wondered whether they actually ingested what it was I just said.
As I continued to go to more births, something felt missing in the way I was supporting my clients and truthfully, it wasn't until my own third pregnancy that I figured out what it was.
You see, I had spent so much time giving them all this information, but I didn't stop and think whether they really wanted all of it. I thought they were hiring me to get informed and yes, while that is a part of what I do as a doula, that is really just a small part of it. I noticed that when I was able to get beyond the information and into the heart of my clients, we were able to make real breakthroughs into discovering their real needs to have the births that they want.
After my third baby when I started back at births, I scrapped the information overload. Client instead received my planning booklet and we still had opportunities to discuss information because it is still important, but during our prenatals we got deeper that just information. I got to really get to know my clients. I got to learn more about them as individuals and as a family. I discovered how they need to receive information to be able to feel safe and calm to make the decisions they needed. Together we dug deep to discover how they wanted to feel during and after their births - what it was that would make them look back at the experience with joyful memories. We started having real discussions about expectations, both for the birth and just as importantly postpartum. Some of these discussions were hard. Sometimes there were tears. Often there was laughter. After that shift, the births I attended changed. Decisions came easier. Joy and celebration filled the birth rooms. My clients felt more content and in line with their values.
When I decided to start teaching prenatal classes, I knew I of course would include the childbirth education essentials like the stages of labour, hormones in birth, your birth options, caring for your baby etc. But I also knew I had to go beyond that. Thankfully, I partnered up with my friend Michelle Tyliakos who is so in line with the way I approach birth as well.
We have made a program that really helps folks unlearn the lifelong stories that have made the picture of what birth is. So much of what is out there is so fear based and we need to remove that from our minds in pregnancy. I know that while people are signing up for a prenatal class to get informed, that to have a powerful birth, being informed is not enough. Self discovery, partner connection and connecting to our inner wisdom and intuition are all essential elements for your Powerful Birth.
Are you pregnant and looking for a prenatal class that will go beyond the basics? Our next My Powerful Birth online group prenatal classes start on June 2.
Samantha Garcia Gagnon is a birth worker in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. She has a special focus on supporting physiologic home births and shares her years of experience and knowledge in this blog.
Proudly supporting home birthing families in Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam. Port Moody, Langley,
Surrey and New Westminster.
Filled with gratitude to be living and working in the unceded and ancestral home of the Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, Kwantlen, and
Semiahmoo First Nations.