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Doulas assisting parents before, during and after childbirth

'We are there to support the birthing person, but also their partners or someone else in their lives who may be their main support person'
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Emily Beauchamp (left) and Kim Gibson, Co-Owners of Growing Together Doula Services in North Bay. Photo by Table and Pine Photography.

“Jobs of the Future” is a series focusing on career paths, local job opportunities, programs, and tales of success that highlight North Bay's diverse job market.  

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“There’s sometimes almost too much information out there and some of it can be conflicting so we try to be that middle ground and bring forward evidence-based studies as best we can and provide those options to new parents.”

That’s Emily Beauchamp, the Co-owner of Growing Together Doula Services, located in North Bay.

“Everyone needs support, and it is super hard to reach out when you are already passed the point when you realize you need that help.”

Doulas fall under the caregiver category but differ from midwives in the sense that they don’t do anything that requires medical attention.

“We don’t help deliver your baby or anything like that,” says Beauchamp.

“We are there to support the birthing person, but also their partners or someone else in their lives who may be their main support person. I’m a full-spectrum Doula. So, I work with families who are trying to get pregnant, all the way through to getting pregnant, to having your baby, and up to a year postpartum as well. This could also mean supporting families through surrogacy or adoption, and I also specialize in pregnancy and infant loss support.

Beauchamp says whether it’s someone's first child or they’ve had multiple children, reaching out to a Doula service is something that can give a lot of peace of mind.

“Each pregnancy is different, each labour is different and each postpartum can be different, and a lot of people find it very tricky to go from one child to two or more,” says Beauchamp.

“That adjustment period is there and there's also that parenting guilt because you can’t focus as much on that first child because the second one is demanding a lot. Everyone needs that extra support, and a lot of people don’t realize that until it is too late, so we are hoping people can reach out early on so that we can foster a relationship and build up that trust and that they can feel comfortable opening up their door to someone, knowing that their house isn’t in the best state.”

Beauchamp says a Doula will assist in multiple ways, starting before the baby arrives.

“We’ll do prenatal services which is a lot of education on what to expect, what you’ve gotten into, and all of that. We go on-call at 37 weeks of the pregnancy and clients will call us once the labor has started and we’ll stay with them from that point until the baby is born,” says Beauchamp.

“It’s a lot of comfort measures; getting the client up and walking around and making sure they are eating and drinking, switching out with a partner or other support person so that no one gets overly tired because some labors can be long.”

Beauchamp says they also provide services during postpartum.

“That can look very different across the board, depending on what the family needs, but typically it’s helping them adjust and heal in those first few weeks as well as getting enough sleep and that they are eating and drinking enough,” she says.  “We help with breastfeeding and we can also help with meal planning and prepping, light tidying and vacuuming, just staying on top of the household chores that can pile up really quickly.”

Beauchamp says every birth will stay with you no matter how it turns out and Doulas are there to help throughout the whole process and look for the red flags such as postpartum mood disorders. Beauchamp says, “We can help them reach out for the extra help that we can’t provide ourselves. A lot of the time it’s providing that listening ear. We don’t actually give advice; we give a lot of different options. Co-sleeping is a big one. Most people are afraid of co-sleeping, there is a big stigma around it. So, what we say is, “here is how you do it safely, here’s how you can do it a number of different ways,” and then the client gets to decide the best way that might fit them. We also support all different kinds of births, so if someone opts in for a c-section and does not go into labour at all, we will still be there afterward and help foster breastfeeding if that’s what they choose.”

Beauchamp says they are limited in how many clients they can take on because of how involved they are in each process.

“For births, we limit ourselves to one or two due dates per month and it is first come first serve. Unfortunately, that does mean that we end up having to turn people down because their due date would be too close to that of other clients,” says Beauchamp.

“We end up going on–call for such a long period of time once we get to that 37th week of pregnancy, and technically they might not even go into labour until the 41 week and so right there, that is a whole month of being on-call for one client. That helps us not overlap with births, because missing one would be heartbreaking.”

But she says they can take on a couple of extra clients for the postpartum services because that is all schedule based.

“We usually schedule 2–3-hour shifts per client, which is a bit easier to manage.”

Growing Together Doula Services started in 2017. Just over a year ago Beauchamp brought in a partner, Kim Gibson, to help run the business and both Beauchamp and Gibson are present for each client to make the on-call work easier on them.

Becoming a doula wasn’t something Beauchamp did through earning a degree at a college, but it was achieved through training at various organizations.

“I started my training in 2017 when I was eight months pregnant with my second child. My personal story is similar to a lot of folks in North Bay where my husband works in the trades and he was either gone out of town for work or worked very long hours, so I was by myself with one baby for a year and a half and then it became me with two little kids for long periods of time without a partner's support,” says Beauchamp. 

She adds that she had traumatic pregnancies and needed the additional support and, “I found it difficult to find that in North Bay.”

“I was a younger mother so I didn’t have a lot of friends who knew what I was going through and it was hard to find people my age that were having similar experiences,” says Beauchamp.

Her journey to becoming a Doula started by going for training to help with a breastfeeding group through the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit

“I went through the training for that and really enjoyed the dynamic of being that support person. It turned into a lot of listening to those mothers, especially on those really hard days where you’re crying, the baby is crying and you just need someone to hear you.”

Beauchamp was interested initially in becoming a lactation consultant but turned to Doula services because she enjoyed the expanded role that would allow her to provide.

“I found the role of Doulas was a lot broader and I could do a lot of different support, which people in North Bay need.”

Beauchamp adds, “I think in North Bay we actually need more Doulas. There are a lot of families who have one partner that works in the trades or the mines and can be gone for a couple of weeks at a time. Or we have lots of people moving up here, but don’t have that support system built around them yet. Kim and I can only take on so many births per year and with the amount of people calling us, it's clear we need the extra Doulas to help people in North Bay.”

Beauchamp says setting up Growing Together as a business did a little bit of time in the beginning.

“I’m fairly tech savvy and I looked for some software that was going to work well for us. We’ve actually got an app now where we hold all of our stuff and it works as a portal where our clients can communicate with us. I’ve always been a fan of trying to automate, or take a little bit of that time-consuming spreadsheet work out of the equation,” says Beauchamp.

“I worked really hard on the website, to make it flow well so that there weren’t any stutters when clients were reaching out. We do a lot of our consultations online, which is handy for scheduling wise so we don’t physically have to be all over the place. In the beginning, it took a lot of time to set up. I wasn’t necessarily reaching out to do the marketing part of the business, I wanted to set the foundation so that if or when it took off, things would be in place and that has definitely worked out.”

Beauchamp says each year they have been in business they have been reaching new goals and targets.

“A lot of that has been through word of mouth and having the social media presence as well.”

She adds, “It’s not in our human nature to procreate and then be left alone to figure it out, so there is definitely a need to build that village around you to help raise your child. Doulas are there to help with that.”

If you have a story idea for “Jobs of the Future” send Matt an email at m.sookram@outlook.com


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Matt Sookram

About the Author: Matt Sookram

Matthew Sookram is a Canadore College graduate. He has lived and worked in North Bay since 2009 covering different beats; everything from City Council to North Bay Battalion.
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