Monday, January 23, 2012

Montreal Birth Companions

Right now, a lady who dearly wants to have a natural birth is in labor. She found out about Montreal Birth Companions from a little workshop she attended, and she contacted us with a request for a volunteer doula. She is single, living alone, and doesn't have the means to pay for a private doula - they can run to over $1000 here in Montreal. Of course, many people can afford them because they have private health insurance, and many doulas are now able to provide insurance receipts, which makes it a lot cheaper for the average working couple.

But MBC gets requests from women and families who cannot afford very much at all, and so our dedicated doulas donate their time and energy to accompanying these women on their childbirth journey. Sometimes we are approached by women who can afford a small stipend, but usually we are called by other agencies who have clients who need companions.

Over the years, MBC doulas have accompanied women from the four round corners of the earth: from the continent of Africa, from India and south-east Asia, China, Eastern and Western Europe, Central and South America, and of course from Canada. Our clients speak many different languages, as do the doulas. Many of our clients over the years have not spoken either of the official languages of Quebec (French and English, in case you were wondering...). Many of these women are single, many have recently arrived in Canada, some have left their other children behind.

Today's champion started early labor yesterday. She has been happy at home on her own until this morning, when her contractions started to become more intense. One MBC doula went to her place after she finished work; another is on the way when her work day is finished. They will probably be heading to the hospital soon.

Eight years ago, when our doulas first started volunteering, I was mentoring two exceptional women who were at one of their first birth experiences. This was with a lovely woman from the Indian subcontinent, who was unsure about when to go to the hospital. Although the doulas had been through a very comprehensive training (Holistic Perinatal Associates which, sadly, is no more - it was created by myself and Lesley Everest, of Motherwit fame), they couldn't figure out what exactly was going on, so they made several trips to the hospital in the middle of the night. Each time, they phoned me to ask my advice, and several other times too. So finally at around four am, they called me to say they were off to the hospital. I was lying in bed, and my feet happened to be pointing in the direction of the hospital they were going to. So I sleepily said "I'll point my toes for you.", which meant, of course, the equivalent of crossing my fingers, kissing my amulet, or praying for a good birth. The lady did go on to have a wonderful, natural birth, accompanied by her stout-hearted and exhausted doulas. Since then, "pointing your toes" has become a common saying in the Montreal doula community.


Some of our volunteers relaxing in the hospital!
So, everyone, "point your toes" for the lady in labor, wish her all the best, and let's hear a cheer for her wonderful doulas!!!





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