You can start calling me, Nikole Opiyo, Certified Childbirth Educator and Doula.
This past year I have been on a mission to learn as much as I can about prenatal and postnatal education and care while in Canada recognizing that we have pretty amazing care, policies, and education when it comes to giving birth.
It all started when I gave birth to Mercy. I had a hard time with her pregnancy not really desiring to connect with anyone, learn about childbirth or newborn care, and grumbling constantly through every ache and pain and change my body was going through. I was very ill equipped to give birth, something I realized in hindsight.
The care I received immediately after giving birth was life changing. We stayed in the hospital 5 whole nights and I was taught the in’s and out’s of caring for my brand new baby and letting my body heal. I left going, “how do people do this without this kind of help?”
It planted a seed that this is something I *might* be interested in getting involved with.
That was confirmed after the birth of Amina. My desire to support pregnant woman, new mommies and babies only increased. I didn’t really know how though as I wasn’t in the medical profession and neither did I really want to be.
Then we travelled to Kenya. Amina was only 3.5 months old. During that trip I met with numerous other mothers and babies. It was such a joy to connect with them through this mutual life experience. But it was also heartbreaking listening to their stories of trauma during childbirth and struggles with life with a newborn. And they had such little support and education. Let’s be honest, giving birth and those first few weeks/months with a newborn are INTENSE. Intensely wonderful but it can also be intensely hard for anyone.
We met with one mother who had a baby just a bit younger than Amina. As we spent some time with her, I started seeing a number of things that made me a little concerned for the well being of this child. I didn’t want to question her. This was her 3rd or 4th child so it wasn’t like she didn’t have any experience with this stuff. And I guess I am always cautious not to impress my white-girl western knowledge on people. I mean, who am I to tell her how to take care of her child just because I delivered my babies in Canada? I have nothing to back up my information except the fact that I have given birth in Canada. I just left it at this is her child and I am sure she knows what she is doing.
That baby passed away a few weeks later. It was heartbreaking. We aren’t sure why, and we will never know. Maybe it was something completely different than any of the red flags I had noticed. But nonetheless, it was heartbreaking.
My desire to learn and educate myself was fuelled. I decided that I needed something behind me, other than the fact that I have given birth, that gives me a bit of weight to be able to teach these mothers. I got in contact with local midwives, doulas, and prenatal teachers and decided that I was going to take a course training to be a Certified Childbirth Educator and Doula.
So that is what I did. I just received my certificate in the mail from Douglas College last week!
I wanted to take a picture of myself with it but I had just woken up and looked awful and this is the only picture that looked half decent.
I am so excited to start doing this work in Kongowea! I am not entirely sure what it will look like at this point. Kelvin and I have decided that we need to do a lot of learning and listening from women in the community who have given birth so I think that will be our first step. We also will start visiting new moms and babies and giving out care packages. We will see where it goes from there!