If you're a mum or mum-to-be, chances are you're familiar with the role of a Doula and the important part they play in birth, as well as postpartum. We're joined by Doula and soon-to-be Naturopath, Renee D'Arcy, on the journal this week to discuss the many ways that she supports women throughout their journey into motherhood.

Hi Renee, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. We love what you do and are so inspired by your work. Can you tell us a little about you and what you do? 
Thank you for having me Prae! I am first and foremost a mother to two beautiful boys - Zephyr and Blue. Together with my husband and children we live a blissfully simple life in amongst the mountains of Northern NSW. I am a soon to be Naturopath and a birth doula. 

For those who don’t know, are you able to explain what a doula is and your main role throughout birth? 
I like to describe a birth doula as the best friend you never knew you needed - someone who holds your hand and gently guides you through the most important journey of your life. 

There is so much work I do before the birth even happens - my role from the minute I meet my client in pregnancy is to provide emotional, informational and practical support. In pregnancy, I am there to hold space for the ups and downs, provide information in birth provider and birth location options, I teach my clients personalised one on one birth education, and we plan for postpartum together. My hope is that by the time my client gives birth they feel so safe, cared for and supported by me that they can walk into the birth space knowing I am truely there for them - this seems so simple but really is just so fundamentally important when we know about the physiology of birth itself. 

In the birth space I work in harmony with both natural and medically assisted births. My role here is very hands on and it can look like facilitating and providing natural pain relief options, offering non-judgemental evidence based informational support so my client feels empowered, heard and respected. I love to fuse my love of natural therapies here so I bring to the birth space with me a range of herbal remedies, aromatherapies, homeopathics and flower essences. 

What kind of support can a doula also provide post-birth during the fourth trimester? 
The wisest traditional cultures from around the globe have taught us that rest is the most vital part of healing in postpartum. Therefore, a postpartum doula is there to love on the mother so she can do exactly that to recover from the monumental experience that is birth. Some duties can look like emotional support in the form of birth debriefing, validating and exploring postpartum emotions, light household tidying, cooking nourishing and healing meals, and dependent on further qualifications natural medicine support specific for postpartum healing for e.g. herbal baths/ foot baths, yoni steaming, herbal medicine and flower essence therapy. 

What made you want to become a doula and what was this journey like for you?
I became a mother by (a wonderful) but big surprise in my early 20’s, my journey through pregnancy and early motherhood was very isolating and lonely. I became the doula I wish I had as a young mother navigating all of it alone. I definitely feel like I’ve felt my calling in the birth space, no other job I’ve had has brought the fulfilment I have in this work. 

Why do you think it’s so important for expectant couples to hire a doula for their birth? 
The research on having a birth doula speaks for itself — birthing women who have doula support are more likely to go into spontaneous labour, less likely to have any medically assisted pain medication, chances of having a caesarean are decreased by 39% , they are more likely to have shorter labours and most importantly more likely to walk away satisfied from their birth experience. 

Being a doula is a hands-on role which requires you to be on-call. It can be quite mentally and physically strenuous. Have you found any coping mechanisms to help you unwind? 
Definitely! I think the biggest lesson I’ve learnt through attending births is to clear my energy before I walk into the birth space - I don’t want to be carrying any baggage from my personal life into a sensitive and vulnerable space. From my experience you can actually feel a shift in the energy when someone walks in the birth space who is holding onto something - whether it be a traumatised birth worker or a bad nights sleep the night before. I use palo santo or sage and clear my mind and say a little mantra to myself before and after the birth.

Lastly, what is it you love most about being a doula?
I love the look on a new mother's face when she has just birthed her baby. I’d do anything to see that a million times over. It’s one of the greatest things I’ve had the privilege of seeing in my life. 

instagram | @renee.vdarcy

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