Support for women giving birth
The word ‘doula’ might not be familiar to many in this area.
If not, here goes: it’s a Greek term that means something along the lines of ‘a woman who serves.’ In its current context, it’s the term for a woman who helps other women before, during and after giving birth.
But it’s not the same as a midwife.
“Midwives are medical,” says Kristi Lebsack, one of two Slave Lake women setting up professionally as doulas in the Lesser Slave Lake area. “Doulas are non-medical. They provide information – emotional and physical support.”
Lebsack and Pam Hahn are both just in the process of launching separate – but mutually supporting – doula practices, after having done the training last year.
They are keen to get the word out, and sat down just after Christmas to explain what the profession entails and how and why they got into it.
They came to it independently. Lebsack – after having nine kids of her own and educating them at home, and Hahn after taking a break from her teaching career and feeling it was time for something new.
“I wanted to go into something health-related,” Hahn says.
“I have a great passion for birth and babies,” Lebsack says. “I love nurturing and ‘mommy-ing.’”
The women also believe there is a great need for services of the type they are trained to provide in the area.
The kind of nurturing the doula can offer has been shown (Lebsack has the statistics to prove it) to result in healthier, happier births and stronger families going forward. Informally, the response from the local medical community has also been very positive.
“We feel like being able to birth in your own community is huge,” says Lebsack.
“I think there is a great need,” Hahn says. “And some of that is coming from the medical community.”
Although they will be working separately from the provincial health system (hired and paid by clients, in other words), the pair see themselves as part of a bigger team that is trying to make a positive “birthing culture,” in local communities. Having to go to the city to have your baby is stressful, Lebsack says.
To find out more about the new doula services in the area, considering attending Meet the Doula Night, which Hahn and Lebsack are hosting in Slave Lake on Saturday, Jan. 14. It’s from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Health Within.
To contact either practitioner, try their websites: thebirthingadvantage.com or naturalstrengthdoula.com. They can be found under the same monikers on Facebook.