Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
I am the mother of three beautiful children, an author, a doula and the founder of Gather, a space and community for women in Melbourne, Australia. I am passionate about supporting families through the life-changing conception, pregnancy, birth and postpartum chapters and holding space for women as they find their footing on this rocky and wonderful road we call motherhood.
When I became pregnant with my first baby in New York City in 2013, I had no idea about my pregnancy and birth options. I chose a hospital birth with an obstetrician but felt like I was still in the dark about so many things as I crept closer to my due date. At around 35 weeks’ pregnant, I hired a doula and in just a few short weeks she provided the education and emotional support we had been searching for. I went on to have an incredibly empowering birth, my daughter born just as the sun was setting over Manhattan on Mother’s Day in 2014.
At the time of her birth, I was working at Victoria’s Secret, leading the editorial team in a relentless, fast-paced role. I returned to work full-time when she was four months old and I found the transition challenging, to say the least. I was still so fresh in my role as ‘mother’ yet trying so hard to hold on to this other life that all of a sudden felt so foreign.
I quickly realised that I couldn’t balance motherhood and this career in a way that felt right to me. I left my job and we left New York at the end of 2015. We travelled around Europe for a few months before returning home to Australia, and I took time during this trip to pause, be present with our daughter and think about my next move. One image kept coming back to me during this time: my doula holding my hand as I birthed my baby. I don’t know what kind of birth I would have had had she not been present, but I do know my husband and I would have felt lost and untethered without her.
Becoming a doula felt like a natural next step for me. I’d become a huge birth nerd during my first months as a new mother and I was so hungry to learn more. I became a certified doula through Carriage House Birth a couple of years later and have been supporting Melbourne families for four years. In 2018 I opened Gather in Melbourne’s inner-west and in 2020 I was asked by Hardie Grant Books to write my first book, The Birth Space.
I am currently working as a birth doula, educator and doula mentor, writing my second book (The Motherhood Space, due for release at the end of the year), running Gather and raising our three children.
What is a doula?
Doulas provide the kind of care I wish everyone had access to. We support without judgement. We show up for you when you need us. We hold you through life's most transformative moments. We care deeply. We educate. We ask questions and most importantly, we listen. You can hire a doula for conception support, loss support, pregnancy and birth support and postpartum support.
What do they do?
Birth doulas provide information, education, care and support to birthing families. We listen to your hopes and fears and help you navigate the somewhat complex maternity and hospital system. During your birth - be it at home, hospital, in the bath, with an epidural or a caesarean - we offer massage and touch, encouragement, and emotional, practical and informational support and advocacy. We also equally support the partner if there is one, to ensure they feel connected and empowered through the experience.
Postpartum doulas support the newborn family at home with food, space holding, bodywork for mum, and whatever else is needed to ensure the family is thriving. I think postpartum doulas should be considered an essential service for new families and adequately supported through government funding. Early motherhood is a rollercoaster of raw emotions driven by hormones, sleep deprivation, a healing body and the overwhelming responsibility of caring for a newborn. It's a LOT. We should never be expected to do it alone.
Do I need one?
If you have access and the financial means, there is no better investment in your pregnancy, birth and postpartum than hiring a doula. These are life changing events and you need a supportive team around you independent of the maternity system in which you are birthing to remind you of your legal and human rights, provide continuity of care that is so hard to find in Australia, and to know you have someone completely on your side who is experienced in the birth and postpartum space.
How much does it cost?
You can find student doulas starting at around $500 (I did not charge for my first five births, so you may even find one for free) up to $5000 for the most experienced birth doula. Postpartum doulas range from around $300-$500 per in home session, which usually includes nourishing meals and snacks for the family.
How do I find one?
At Gather, we have a collective of 40 birth and postpartum doulas and I work to match our doulas to families to help take the time and stress out of finding the right one. If you’re in Melbourne, send us an enquiry! You can also search Instagram and ask friends and family if they know of anyone. I’d recommend meeting a few doulas before you hire someone to get a feel for the different ways of working and to ensure your energy feels aligned.