There has been a surprising amount of media attention on birth lately. From a recent article in the Vancouver Sun on B.C.’s maternal health care system, to a Canadian Chiropractor who chose to broadcast her birth live online this week, people have been talking about birth.
As a birth doula with Birth Takes a Village, I am a strong advocate for access to information around natural birth and breastfeeding. Like many women in the ever-growing birth community, I am beyond passionate about bringing a gentle and natural philosophy about birth to the mainstream population. In addition to providing support to women during labour as a Doula, I teach workshops to help prepare fathers / partners for the intense experience of birth, as well as facilitate community-building discussion groups for pregnant women in Vancouver.
In my other world, I have worked in traditional healthcare for many years in pharmacies, where I’ve always seen a missing opportunity for the encouraging and supporting the human body’s natural processes. A particular sore spot for me is the huge lack of exposure to resources and support for pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding in mainstream health care.
My current day-job is at Burrard Pharmasave in Vancouver, where I take care of the home health care and medical supplies department. I paid my way through University with pharmacy work, and though it’s always been a good job, I never thought I’d see the day when I could say that a position in a mainstream pharmacy gives me a sense of personal satisfaction and the ability to pursue my true passions. No one is more amazed than me that my pharmacy career is now allowing me the opportunity to create something I am thankful for everyday : a way to expose traditional medical / pharmacy patients to their options for birth.
I love promoting midwifery care, doula support, breastfeeding and the importance of skin-to-skin to pharmacy patients who may otherwise not have known about all of their options for having a healthy, supported pregnancy and birth. I am constantly connecting with practitioners who serve pregnant woman with respect for women’s innate ability to give birth and with amazing parents who are eager to learn about their options.
Pharmasave’s front-store manager affectionately (I think!) refers to me as “the hippy chick in the back corner of the store”. He skeptically brings me the never-ending new products I order in, from bra-like supports to aide hands-free pumping, to maternity pads and products for soothing the perineum postpartum. He always cringes as he passes by the breastfeeding calendar I proudly display next to my customer service desk , and probably wonders why I have exercise balls mixed in with the birth supplies (in birth-world, we refer to them as “birth balls”, and they are amazing for effective positions during labour, helping labour progress more efficiently and comfortably).
He may be a little skeptical, but he’s supportive, and I’m thankful to have found a pharmacy that lets me promote healthy birth, breastfeeding practices and options for home birth and hospital birth, and that allows me to dedicate such a large space to aides for problems during pregnancy, home birth supplies, and postpartum products.
One of my most rewarding roles at the pharmacy is helping stressed-out dads who’ve run across the street from St. Paul’s hospital looking for breastpumps just after the birth of their new baby, when mama was still in the hospital and struggling a bit with breastfeeding. When they come back a few weeks later with mom and baby to say thanks, and there’ve been a few of them who have, I feel such a sense of satisfaction and happiness that I was able to help their transition into parenthood be just that much easier.
Birth resources and information should be easily accessible to everyone, not just women who are already informed or part of the birth community. I am excited to continue to share information about pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding with women who may never have considered their options otherwise, and contributing to a shift in our culture’s perspective on birth towards one that is gentle, supportive and trusting in the body’s natural process.
Help Birth Takes a Village create a culture of supported childbirth and shared birth knowledge.