At Canadian Fertility Consulting, we value the holistic contribution that doulas bring to our surrogates both during their pregnancy and throughout their post-natal recovery. In an effort to create more awareness about the benefit of having a doula, we have partnered with doulas across the country who are dedicated to empowering women and supporting them in their pregnancies. Today we’re featuring Janine Ives whose business, Janine Ives Doula Services offers birth and postpartum doula care to women in and around London, Ontario.
Why did you become a doula?
After the birth of my two children, I discovered that I had a natural interest and passion for all things pregnancy, birth and baby related. I went on to become a two-time surrogate, during which time I discovered that I not only had a passion for the topic, but for helping families welcome their babies into the world! As a birth photographer, I was privileged to be able to witness birth, but I felt a strong desire to step out from behind the lens and participate in the birth. I felt that I had enough personal experience to guide other women and families along their own journeys and a heart that truly wants the best for all new mothers, so becoming a Doula made perfect sense :).
What kind of training did you take to become a doula?
I took two twelve-week online courses through DoulasInc, one to become a certified labour Doula and the other to become a certified Postpartum Doula. Both courses required me to attend multiple workshops to further my knowledge. I am also CPR certified.
Do you have your own business and what is your practice like?
I do have my own business. It is brand new! Much like a new mother and her baby, I am still figuring it all out, but I am loving the journey! I like to think of my business (and myself) as an oasis for pregnant and postpartum women. At least that’s the experience I aim to create for my clients.
What do you specialize in?
I do offer birth photography as one of my services, either in conjunction with Doula services (yes, it is possible to do both at once!) or on its own. I feel it is so important for families to be able to have both support and memories, which is why I offer both services together to streamline things and keep numbers down in the delivery room. I also have a real soft spot for Surrogates, their Intended Parents and the uniqueness of Surrogate deliveries, so I am hoping to be able to work with many Surrogates throughout my career.
What kind of clientele do you work with?
Pregnant and Postpartum women and their families, plus Surrogates.
Can you take us through a day in the life of a doula?
It depends! If I am on call, my day involves A LOT of phone checking and communicating with my expecting client to see how she is feeling and if she needs anything from me while we wait, often encouraging those who have gone overdue. If I am working with a Postpartum client, my day will involve some baby snuggles, some house work, maybe some meal prep, and whatever else Mom and/or I feel she needs that day. Most of the time though, I am working behind the scenes making other local business connections, scheduling informative or fun posts on my business FB page, thinking of new ways to connect with my community, meeting potential clients for consultations and advertising my business.
What are the benefits of preparing for birth with a doula?
There are so many! One of the biggest ones is that whenever you have a question or need a referral to a related service, your Doula is a one-stop shop! No need to ask Dr. Google for anything, or wonder which massage therapist you should see….your Doula has the answers! Aside from that, preparing for birth with a Doula on the team reduces anxiety. You know that, no matter what, you WILL be supported by someone who is there for you 100%, from start to finish, will advocate for you and will celebrate with you.
Why is it important to have post-partum care, and how does a doula help support this?
Postpartum care and support are just as essential as pregnancy and labour support. A woman is vulnerable after having a baby, no matter how experienced she may be. Hormones are out of whack and the body has a lot of healing to do. A Doula’s job is to take care of the Mom, and that can involve anything from housework to a listening ear. A surrogate is just as deserving of postpartum support as anyone else, maybe even more so! There are some strange emotions to navigate after delivering a surrogate baby, and just as much physical healing. The support that the surrogate may have had with her own children simply won’t exist after a surrogate delivery, so a postpartum Doula can definitely fill this gap.
Why do you think a surrogate would benefit from a doula?
After having two surrogate babies myself, I feel very strongly that all surrogates should have a Doula! Surrogate pregnancies are very medical in nature and a lot of focus is given to the baby (rightfully so!). Often times surrogates and their own personal needs can get lost in the mix. Family and friends sometimes don’t quite know how to discuss the pregnancy or birth, so they avoid the topic completely. A Doula focuses 100% on the surrogate and her needs. Having a Doula who is also an experienced surrogate has even greater, obvious benefits.
What attracts you to working within the surrogacy community?
My experience as a Surrogate and my empathy for what Surrogates go through, the good and the bad!
Why did you become a surrogate?
Because I had easy, enjoyable pregnancies and births and wanted to experience it all again without necessarily having more children of my own. Being able to be pregnant again AND help a couple realize their dream was what attracted me to Surrogacy.
Who supported you most in your decision to be a surrogate? Did you have a doula yourself, what was that like?
My husband supported me the most in my decision, but I was very supported by all my friends and family – very lucky. I did not have a Doula per-say, but my Mother played an active role in both my pregnancies and was one of my main supports during the births. I have learned a lot of what I know about being a Doula from her. I could not imagine those experiences without her by my side. Because of her support, I know the value of having a Doula.
How did surrogacy change your life?
This is an impossible question to answer fully. I feel that I know myself better than ever before, I have a new confidence about me, my relationships are stronger, my general anxiety has been reduced and I feel very proud of myself.
What was the best part of your surrogacy journey?
Watching my Intended Parents fall in love with their babies. It was one of the most humbling and beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed.
What would you say to someone considering surrogacy?
Consider it carefully of course, but if your heart is telling you to do it, go for it! Don’t let fear or logistics stop you. It WILL change your life for the better 😊