Hi Mummas! Welcome to another week of the Real Mums series, and this week I had the pleasure of chatting with the gorgeous Sam from Sage Birth and Beyond! Sam is a doula and also has her own business selling her own blends of herbal tea (which you can read my review of HERE, they’re DIVINE!). Sam shares some insight into the role of a doula (let’s be honest, I didn’t really know much!) as well as her own experiences of the births of her two boys. Grab a cuppa (preferably of some Sage Birth and Beyond tea!) and enjoy x
Hi Sam! What a pleasure to have you joining us for this week’s #RealMums Blog series. It is so wonderful getting to meet different mums from around the world and chat about our experiences as mums. To start, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
My name is Sam Ross, I’m a Birth Doula in Toowoomba and mum to two vivavious little boys. I am currently completing my doula mentorship with Anna Watts from Celebration of Birth, and have recently completed an intensive doula workshop with her. I have a background in Biomedical Science and was on the path to become a medical Ultrasound Technician before becoming a mum and doula. Although this career path is great, my passion currently lies with supporting and educating and supporting parents in birth, as I believe it is SO important.
What do you like to do with your time?
My days are fairly full, between looking after my two crazy little boys, running a herbal tea business and caring for my pregnant clients. I also try to ensure my own cup is full, it’s super important to me. I like to participate in monthly Red tent circles, spending time with like minded women and of course spending quality time with my husband, which is hard to do.
You are currently completing your training/mentorship to become a doula. For those of us who might not know, what is a doula, and how did you decide you wanted to become one?
A doula is a professional birth support person. A doula will support you and your partner, provide you with information and help to ensure a smooth start to parenthood.
I decided to become a doula after the traumatic birth of my second son. My birth experience led me to feel disempowered, and I struggled to bond with my son. I wish I had had a doula, even just to have a reassuring hand on my shoulder and someone to tell me it was going to be ok. My husband wasn’t emotionally prepared for the birth so was really no help. I felt so alone through the whole experience.
When my son was about 9 months old, I just decided I was going to be that person for other mums.
You’ve spoken on your blog about your different birth experiences between your first and second son. For mums who might be expecting their first (or considering a second) child, can you explain a bit about your different birth stories, and why you think the birth experience is so important?
My first birth was so amazing. I had a completely drug free labour and birth. Whilst it wasn’t easy, I had an intense posterior labour (baby’s back was on my back which isn’t ideal) which lead to me pushing for almost 2 hours. Ultimately, the experience left me feeling the most amazing oxytocin high. I was ready to do it again the next day!
I think the big difference was that I had continuity of care, which meant I saw the same midwife throughout my pregnancy and birth. She knew me well, I trusted her, and she supported my birth vision.
Circumstances during my second pregnancy meant I didn’t have access to a continuity of care midwife. Every antenatal appointment was with a new face, someone who wasn’t interested in getting to know me as a person.
I went into my labour being fearful of having an unknown midwife who wouldn’t support my wishes for a natural, intervention free birth.
My fears came true, labour was a battle. I was constantly asking for “permission” to do things I wanted to. (You do not need permission!!) The midwife clearly wasn’t on my side, and was making things very difficult.
Basically, the labour was intense, I was full of mistrust and anxiety.
My husband was terrified and didn’t know what to do or say. I felt alone and unsupportive.
Birth experience is everything! I absolutely believe it’s not the physical things that happen (although that can impact on trauma) but rather the way a woman was made to feel. Some women can have amazing, empowering C-sections and other women like myself have seemingly “good” births but feel so traumatized because of how they were made to feel.
How does being a doula fit in with your life as a mum? Has it changed your perspective on being a mum?
I’m not going to lie, it is challenging. Most women go into labour at night, which means I will attend a birth all night, then return home to look after two children all day. Talk about exhausting! But it sets my soul on fire, gives me an amazing purpose and nothing beats watching a woman transform into a mother.
It has given me a lot more patience. The most important job a doula does is “hold space”, which simply means to be completely present with someone completely, without judgement, without an ulterior motive, without trying to fix them. This has changed how I am present with my boys, instead of trying to fix them I sit and hold space for their emotions, no matter how great. Sometimes people just want to be heard and have their feelings validated.
What have been your highlights as a mum? What about any challenges?
I think the highlights are the little daily things that make you stop and smile. When I hear my boys playing together, when they say “I love you mum”, when they pick a dandelion especially for you. They’re the highlights of motherhood.
There are many challenges. Too many to list. I think my biggest challenging was developing postnatal depression after my second son was born. It really impacted my relationships with everyone around me. I am so thankful I am on the other side of that now and now I can offer perspective and support to others who may experience PND.
For prospective mums about to go through the birth, do you have any tips or strategies to help them have a positive birth experience?
Be informed. I can’t stress that enough. Please don’t give away your power to hospital staff who may not have your best interest at heart. You have so many choices, and it’s important that you know the implications of those choices. The most important thing would be to choose a health care provider that will support your goals.
Ie. An Obstetrician may not be the best choice for an all natural, intervention free birth. But an excellent choice if you’d like a planned c-section.
Lastly, what advice would you give to new and prospective mums about to embark on their motherhood journey?
Find your village. Find other mothers who are non-judgmental and supportive. Don’t isolate yourself, as parenting can be so lonely. I got through many challenging days by visiting the park with a trusted friend.