My Village Doula Collective is a not-for-profit organization providing care to newborns, mothers, and families throughout North Bay and surrounding areas.
Founded by Emily Beauchamp, Elysha Carriere, Jane Collins and Kimberly Gibson, the group strives to provide perinatal support to new mothers and families.
“What the collective wants to do is provide a better well-rounded service for folks in the community with new families,” explained Jane Collins, and offer these services at a “subsidized or low cost to those in need.”
There are midwives within the community, she added, as well as health care professionals who help new mothers and babies, but there “have only been one or two doulas able to offer service to clients for a number of years” within the community.
“We came together to offer more service with more providers,” Collins said, “but that means bringing in more money so we can offer services for free or subsidized.”
What services do doulas provide? Generally speaking, doulas are not medical professionals, and they do not deliver babies or provide medical care.
They provide prenatal support, offering education to expecting mothers, help create care plans for new families, and help reduce stress by helping with household tasks.
They also offer workshops on various aspects of childcare for new parents.
Doulas offer support to new mothers, as many “are struggling adjusting to motherhood,” explained Kim Gibson, and doulas can help ease the struggle.
“When you’re raising a child, you need a village of people supporting you,” explained Melissa Corrente, a member of the collective’s board of directors, “and that’s why I felt passionate about joining because I didn’t have that village for myself after having kids, I didn’t have any family close by.”
“It can be such an isolating time” as a new mom, Beauchamp added, “and the events of the past year have made it more so.”
Indeed, the doulas noted that feelings of isolation are common for new mothers, as is the emotional weight that bears down when one’s best intentions provide less than expected results.
For instance, you’ve read the baby books, you’ve listened to the advice and tips for calming a little one, and yet, the baby continues to cry constantly. What’s one to do?
Collins puts the situation into perspective, noting that because so much of the birthing process is natural, there is an expectation that mothering “has to be easy” as well, being an extension of that natural process.
And although this is not the case, many feel like they are failing the child when they are unable to solve a parenting problem, which can lead to feelings of shame and inadequacy for some.
“They’re always questioning whether they’re doing the right thing” Carriere said, noting each child is different, the first born might be calm whereas the second might be more difficult, and all the techniques that worked for the first may have no effect on the second.
And despite how many instructional books a parent reads, Carriere makes clear that “babies haven’t read the book,” and a one-size-fits-all remedy rarely works in the real world.
The collective is governed by a board of directors, consisting of Jen Taun, Melissa Corrente, Audrey Morin, Natasha Steurnol, Sarah Penfold, Lindsey Gradeen, and Miranda Jensen.
The board “helps develop a strategic plan of what we want to do in our first year,” Carriere noted.
Indeed, the collective is relatively new, and are working diligently to establish solid ground from which to deliver their services to the community.
“Right now, we’re really focusing our efforts on fundraising,” she added, to help reach that ground
“We don’t want to turn any one away,” Collins said, emphasizing a main goal of the doulas is to eliminate struggle for new mothers and families.
“People are struggling, and you read reports, and you look at stats, so what do you do? Just say, aw yeah, we really wish we could do something but we can’t? We have to make a change.”
More information on the My Village Doula Collective, including ways to contribute to their fundraising, can be found on their website: https://www.myvillagedoulas.com/welcome?utm_source=baytoday.ca&utm_campaign=baytoday.ca%3A%20outbound&utm_medium=referral
David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca