I did get some emails that questioned why I felt that I could be a birth Doula. And I mean the definition of Doula is a woman who assists at birth. If you look it up in the dictionary, that’s what it says. But I always say repeatedly that I don't think the gender of the Doula is an important as their intention and the work that they do.

BEING A DOULA

People may hire a Doula if they’re first time parents and they’re feeling nervous about the situation and they want more education and they want that extra support. That’s usually the biggest reason. And for second time parents, it’s usually because their birth didn’t go as they had hoped the first time and they feel like they could use that extra support.

A birth Doula is a trained person who provides education, physical and emotional support for families before the birth happens, during birth and postpartum.

The word sort of got out of that I was the first male Doula in Canada, which I didn't realize I was. Not everybody is going to want a male Doula because it is one of the most important times in most family’s lives. It’s very personal and you have to really think hard about who you’re going to bring into that personal envelope. And if both partners are not okay with it, then I always suggest that they maybe go find someone else. Because I need to be okay with everybody. The familes are inviting me to see their baby at the same time they do. I always feel pretty honoured to be a part of that process and I never take it for granted.

EARLY DAYS

I grew up in Truro, Nova Scotia. It’s called the hub of Nova Scotia. Truro is sort of right off the highway and most people just go there to get gas on their way to somewhere else. It is a small, beautiful town and a great place to grow up.

I've been doing massage therapy now for 15 years. It actually boggles my mind that I've been doing it for that long because it seems to have just sort of flew by. I think it’s because it’s what I love to do. Before I became a Doula, I was treating a lot of women during their pregnancy, for massage. And then I would treat them a couple of times for anything that they were going through. Then they would stop because they would have had their baby, and then they’d come back to me as a client afterwards. So it just seemed like a natural extension of what I was already doing. Doulas assist the families physically and emotionally and so it’s still helping people.

PERSONAL LIFE

Family is number one for me. My wife and I have constructed a little life here in Nova Scotia and we do everything for our kids, with our kids, they go everywhere with me. I love friends, camping and canoeing and gardening and all of those types of things – essentially anything to do with outside. I couldn’t do it without the support of my family. I'm home with my kids during the day and work at night. I can pick up and go to a birth at a moment’s notice and then out of the house for as long as I need to be and everything’s covered on the home end. My wife is hugely supportive. She thinks it’s great that I’m a Doula. I don’t think my kids quite understand what it means, but they do think it’s kind-of cool because they hear friends talk about it.

THE HARDEST PART

Birth can get a little crazy sometimes and people’s frustration levels can get pretty high. I try to make sure that my clients are very prepared, as prepared as we can be for something that we don't really know how it’s going to go. But honestly the hardest part is sleep deprivation. Sometimes I could be up for 12 hours, 24 hours, 42 hours. I try to keep focus and make sure that I'm at my best for them, but that’s hard sometimes. It’s when that baby comes out, the parents are exhausted and they meet their new human for the first time. They look at you and just say “Thank you.” They could have done it on their own, but they say thank you and that part to me is why I do it. Because that’s what gives me the push to drive home after being up for 20 hours.

The familes are inviting me to see their baby at the same time they do. I always feel pretty honoured to be a part of that process and I never take it for granted.

MISCONCEPTIONS

A birth Doula is a trained person who provides education, physical and emotional support for families before the birth happens, during birth and postpartum.

Doulas do not deliver babies. That seems to be the most common misconception. We’re there to assist the families physically and emotionally, which entails a lot. It’s not our job to interfere with the medical community, we’re there as an amendment to the whole situation, to help educate families so that they can advocate for themselves, supporting their decisions without really imparting what we think. It makes a more collaborative team.

PROUDEST MOMENTS

The one thing that I always really enjoy watching is even if parents are super nervous and super anxious, I've never seen a couple disconnect during a birth. Sure, there are small moments that things go off the rails a little bit but everybody brings their focus back. It’s amazing to watch a family come together to welcome another family member in. And that's the part that I love, watching families go from two to three.

It’s very profound. I wish more people could see what really labour looks like. I mean you can go online and watch videos and more people should see those types of things so they know what the actual the labour process and the birth process looks like. In other places around the world people are seeing it on a daily basis in little villages. In the middle of the Amazon, women are giving birth. I think if more that families see it is a regular physiological process, everybody’s emotional outcomes would be better. It wouldn't be such a stressful thing. People would be like "Okay, we got this. We can do this and we will do this."

This interview has been condensed and edited

Photos by Evan McMaster

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