Ministering Through Birth
My offerings of ministry are woven into three strands, as an experienced pre and post natal yoga instructor, conducting life celebrations and as a full spectrum birth doula.
Birth doulas are trained to offer support to the birthing person and their partner. They offer labour support, emotional support, physical support and are committed advocates for the birthing person. A doula will always advocate on behalf of the birthing mother, putting her needs first. A full spectrum doula provides support regardless of where the reproductive journey leads, including, but not exclusive to at home and hospital births, abortion, adoption, birth and infant loss, miscarriage, in vitro and surrogacy.
Studies show that continuous labour support reduces the need for medical intervention. A large part of this is because having a doula as the birthing mother’s ally and companion will increase; oxytocin, mobility during labour, self esteem, and contribute to decreasing pain and anxiety. Doulas can also offer postpartum support which can take the form of nutritional counselling, nursing support, emotional and physical support, family support as well as home care and referrals.
Last year, I began a project that gathered a group of doulas together with the intention of operating as a collective. The idea was to support one another as we support our community. It was intended as an ongoing project that would grow as we grow personally and professionally. We would pool our resources and create stronger community for families and offer valuable resources in the spirit of collaboration through our work as doulas.
Presently, members of the collective work independently, though each of us continue to support one another. Together, through our diversity, we have the potential to meet more needs than we would as individuals.
The nature of this work is organic in that is seeks to satisfy the needs of people based on their own particular needs, wants, desires, hopes and dreams for their lives and the lives of their families. Our role is to hold loving space and offer resources for people as they discover techniques and systems that support their unique dreams and visions.
I am inspired by the author, professor, feminist and social rights activist bell hooks who said, “Individuals who choose to love can and do alter our lives in ways that honour the primacy of a love ethic. We do this by choosing to work with individuals we admire and respect; by committing to give our all to relationships; by embracing a global vision wherein we see our lives and our fate as intimately connected to those of everyone else on the planet. Commitment to a love ethic transforms our lives by offering us a different set of values to live by. In large and small ways, we make choices based on a belief that honesty, openness, and personal integrity need to be expressed in public and private decisions.”
Collaboration means we support one another professionally and personally. We share wisdom, education and resources. Some of our members are working towards gaining the requirements for “The Doulas for Aboriginal Families” grant program offered by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, First Nations Health Authority, and the BC Ministry of Health. The goal of the program is to increase healthy birth outcomes for Indigenous families by removing the cost barrier to accessing doula services.
My intention is to continue work collaboratively with my community and to continue to learn about what creates inclusivity through love and respect. I will act as a resource for all families and individuals requiring that space be tenderly held for them as they navigate the waters of relationship with others, themselves and their children.
*I want to acknowledge that where I live and work occupies unceded and unsurrendered Skwxwú7mesh-ulh Temíx̱w territory. I recognize the necessity for strong community and support in the lives of all people.
Rev Toni Potters, Clergy Support Memorial Church