Empowering women during childbirth
At 34, Reva Minors wishes she had paid greater attention to the pull she felt as a teenager.
Television programmes about childbirth, particularly water births, fascinated her – she always felt a little strange about her interest.
“I didn’t even have a boyfriend or know if I wanted children,” she said. “Now I wish I’d just let myself go down that rabbit hole.”
In 2016, as she prepared to give birth to her son Sol, she started thinking about water births again and hired Sophia Cannonier, a doula, to help her.
“I wasn’t fearful,” she said. “It was about wanting to be as comfortable as possible during a time that is not so comfortable.”
Doulas are not medical professionals and do not deliver babies. They provide emotional support, help with a birth plan and advocate for the mother in the delivery room. They also often help mothers in the weeks after the baby is born.
Ms Minors found that having one took away a lot of stress during labour.
“If I was thirsty, she was right there with a drink of water. She was so attentive. All I had to do was give birth. I was very relaxed and comfortable. It was very different from what I’d seen on television and in the media and heard about from other people.”
The following year, the reinsurance accountant took a three-month online course with Doula Trainings International to get certified. She operates her practice, Loquat Roots, in her spare time.
Her aim is to help women feel respected, cared for and empowered while giving birth.
Prior to that time, she gives advice on pain management and different labour positions and provides information to help allay any concerns or fears.
When the big day comes she meets the couple at the hospital and stays until the child is born.
“I am there the whole time so the birth partner can go take a nap or eat something or offer childcare to the other children,” she said. “I bring snacks and hydration. I get water for her or the birth partner.”
What she loves most is witnessing that “instant change from woman to mother and man to dad”.
Her first client insisted she wanted an unmedicated birth which concerned her own mother, who “went through a lot of birth trauma”.
“We were able to sit as a group and talk about it,” Ms Minors said.
That challenge overcome, she thought it would be smooth sailing from there on in but when the woman went into labour and she had to meet her at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, she suddenly felt very nervous.
“I was so shy,” she said. “I was really scared to say things to the nurses and my client wanted low lighting. I found a way and just swallowed it and said, ‘Can we turn the lights down?’ The nurses were so obliging.”
Afterward she worried that she had done a poor job, but the woman and her partner gave her a good evaluation.
Since then she has assisted at seven hospital deliveries and one home birth, and has had one postpartum client.
“The midwives at the hospital are not allowed to work outside of the hospital,” Ms Minors said. “It can be costly to bring one in.”
She brought one in for the birth of her daughter, Reia, three years ago.
“I had a midwife assistant. I had a photographer there and a doula. My labour was quick, comfortable and easy. I was able to stay home in my own bed and relax. My son slept out with his godmother.”
Covid-19 has limited what she can offer clients who want a hospital birth. With only one ‘guest’ allowed in the delivery room, it ultimately becomes a choice between her and their partner.
“I had about five consultations but no one proceeded with the service because doulas weren't allowed in,” she said. “It was either dad or doula, which is a terrible choice. We have heard stories of a lot of traumatic births and unnecessary caesarean sections.
“Nothing will change if they don't speak up, but they also have to feel safe and encouraged to do so.”
Look for @loquatroots on Facebook. For more information: www.loquatroots.com, 531-1609 or firstname.lastname@example.org