The journey through pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period brings with it many changes and a wide range of emotions, from joy and anticipation to confusion and exhaustion. To help make this transition a positive one, some women are turning to support from a doula, someone who assists mothers throughout pregnancy, birth and beyond. Thanks to two new services and a recently-released book, women in Montreal can learn about and receive care from a trained doula.
1. The R&R Agency
The R&R Agency has been providing babysitting services to families in Montreal for several years but recently has begun offering postpartum doula care. Many women find that after giving birth, they need an extra pair of hands — and a supportive presence — so they can focus on caring for their newborn. The agency will find a trained doula to provide these kinds of services, which might include light housekeeping, caring for your children, help with breastfeeding and more. Cost for the minimum four-hour block of time is $74.
For more information, call (514) 639-1507 or visit www.postnatalcare.ca
2. MotherWit Doula Care
At MotherWit Doula Care, founded by Lesley Everest, expecting and new parents will find a host of services to help them with this major life change. Families can hire a doula to be with them during labour; no medical care will be provided but the doula supports the birthing mother, offers encouragement, guidance and ideas for managing labour pain (massage, etc.). MotherWit doulas are also available during the postpartum period to ensure that mom and baby have time to bond; they may do light housekeeping, help with cooking or just talk with the mother about what to expect from her baby.
To help people learn about the role of a doula, MotherWit is holding free information sessions on July 11 and August 8 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m at 5726 Sherbrooke St.,W., Suite 214. Participants can hear about doula services, ask questions, discover other community resources and even meet other expecting or new parents.
As well, MotherWit is offering a two-day childbirth preparation course on July 7 and 14 as well as August 4 and 11. The workshop sessions run from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and costs $250 per couple. Participants will learn about the birth process, options for coping with labour and information about breastfeeding.
For more information, visit www.motherwit.ca
3. The Birth Conspiracy
Whether a woman is considering pregnancy or is awaiting the arrival of her baby, she faces a barrage of advice and opinions from family, friends, health experts, etc. The mountain of information available can be overwhelming but local author and doula Rivka Cymbalist says there a solution to this problem: simplify.
“When we simplify our approach to birth, we will see that birth is simple,” she writes in her new book, The Birth Conspiracy, Natural Birth, Hospitals, and Doulas: A Guide. She uses the word “conspiracy” in its original sense of people breathing together and her goal is to help women move beyond the debate about home versus hospital birth, etc.
In clear, direct language, Cymbalist walks readers through the emotional and physical aspects of pregnancy from the changes that occur in a women’s body to different positions to try during labour. As the director of Montreal Birth Companions, a volunteer program that provides doula services to immigrant and low-income women, Cymbalist makes a strong case for the role a doula can play in helping women navigate pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. As she explains, a doula isn’t a healthcare provider or midwife, but rather a companion to guide and support a woman’s choices during this time.
Cymbalist’s easy-to-read book, brightened with illustrations by Canadian artist Sara Hartland–Rowe, will help women deal with feelings of anxiety and helplessness when facing their pregnancies and the choices involved.