Photo: Megan Taylor Photography

Photo: Megan Taylor Photography

Jessica Austin – Doula & Childbirth Services in Vancouver, BC

As a birth doula and informed choice activist, I believe women’s rights to choices about their births are of utmost importance. I strive to promote a gentle and informed birth culture through my educational blog and my childbirth education classes, as well as by participating in local campaigns to raise awareness about important issues in maternal health care. My strong ties to both the medical and unassisted / non-medical childbirth communities give me a uniquely well-rounded perspective on the range of options for birthing families. I also train new doulas through the Wise Woman Way of Birth doula certifying program.

Get to know me better by following me on facebook or browsing some articles on the blog.


Birth Takes A Village

Birth Takes A Village was created as a symbol for what I desire for the world: a strong sense of community, support, and respect. Traditionally, women and mothers had a community of women surrounding and supporting them during pregnancy, birth and in the early newborn period. Our culture has largely moved away from that community-based system, and I want to be a part of recreating it; symbolic of how, ultimately, I wish for a strong sense of community and support everywhere, for everyone.

Changing the CULTURE of birth also takes a village. I believe our current birth culture needs to be shifted to one that is much more gentle, informed and respectful of women and their bodies. As a very active leader and participant in Vancouver’s birth activist community, I strive to create continual and positive change as I work towards promoting a gentle and informed birth culture.

My Path to Becoming a Childbirth Professional

Finding a career that could bring me a strong sense of fulfillment through contributing to others’ lives in a positive and important way while fulfilling my need for constant learning and education had always been an extremely important goal of mine. This pursuit has taken me through university and independent studies, as well as employment in various fields of health care.  Finally, I found myself becoming part of the Vancouver birth community as a birth doula and prenatal educator.

My undergraduate studies in Biological Sciences gave me a strong understanding of human biology, as well as an interest in scientific research. I spend many evenings studying obstetric guidelines and the research it is based on, which has armed with a plethora of studies and resources to pass on to my clients.

My Birth Philosophy

After several years of attending births in Vancouver in a wide variety of contexts, both my experience and extensive review of the scientific research has led me to believe that in most circumstances, birth is best left undisturbed. While there is certainly a place for medical intervention in childbirth, research shows that using it inappropriately frequently leads to a disruption of the normal birth process and experience without improving outcomes for mothers and their babies.

Spontaneous labor in a normal woman is an event marked by a number of processes so complicated and so perfectly attuned to each other that any interference will only detract from the optimal character. The only thing required from the bystanders is that they show respect for this awe-inspiring process by complying with the first rule of medicine – nil nocere [do no harm] ~ Dr. G.J. Kloosterman

I firmly believe in birth as a social and emotional experience for women, and that all women deserve to have respectful, positive births.

How I Work

When I was a new doula, I thought providing good birth support was all about the so-called comfort measures. Hip squeezes, “Spinning Babies Techniques”, rebozo-use, acupressure and massage techniques, and TENS machines were the focus of my sales-pitch. The more experienced I get, the more I realize that while these skills and tools-are certainly nice-to-haves (and I won’t hold out on you with them!), providing good birth support is more about knowing when NOT to use certain tools or techniques in a birth.

The way I work as a doula and the way I teach families to view birth is to use a “follow-the-mother” approach. Instead of showing you how to birth, I tend to look at what you are instinctually trying to do and then help you do it!

Dr. Michel Odent says “one cannot actively help a woman to give birth. The goal is to avoid disturbing her unnecessarily.” This is the approach I typically take during a birth by focusing on making sure you are nourished, hydrated and feeling reassured, supported and informed, and using comfort measures and “doula-skills” mindfully.

A main focus of my work with birthing families is making sure you feel educated and able to make informed choices both before and during the birth. I will do so much more for you than make you tea and rub your back (though I’ll do that, too). When you look back on your birth, I want you to feel that you fully understood your options and what they entail and feel proud of yourself for making fully informed choices that felt right to you.

I invite you to contact me for a free initial interview to discover if we are a good match for your birth.


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