In honour of World Doula Week, we had the pleasure of talking to Lorri Fleming, doula and Co-Founder of The WOMB (The World of My Baby) a centre that grew out of a passion for supporting women and their families as birth and postnatal doulas.
Together, Lorri and co-founder Angie Stenback are able to help hundreds of women and their families through the entire process of birthing by offering a multitude of services, workshops, classes and groups designed to love women through every step. “We really do have a dream team of experts/moms that have been there and understand that each woman’s experience is different and so are her needs,” says Lorri.
“Our role as a doula is to ease this transition for all and assist in resolving challenges.”
How do you become a doula?
In 1997, I was working as an office manager in a wellness centre. After having my first son in hospital with an OB and my daughter at home with midwives, I felt that there was no one RIGHT way to have a baby. Both were great births and I truly loved my birth experiences. At the office, I got to know so many expectant couples who were always surprised to hear that I loved my birth experiences and asked how and what I did. I told them that the book “Childbirth Without Fear” by Dr. Grantly Dick Read inspired me. This book helped me to increase my confidence, decrease my fears and taught me how to work with my body, trusting the process of birth. I soon started teaching couples what I did through labour and was being asked often to be a birth coach for them. I had NO idea what I was doing was actually a profession called “doula”.
Many, many births later I went and got my certification and got so busy that I quit working at the centre and started working with a team of doulas, so began Halton Doula Group.
How would you describe your experience of being a doula as it relates to your views on birth?
My experiences in supporting births over the past 17 years have helped me to understand that my own doula education is never-ending. No two births are ever the same and being a childbirth professional definitely keeps you on your toes. Being a doula can be both the most rewarding and most demanding profession. There is nothing better than witnessing the miracle of birth and it never gets boring, but the hours can be very long and we become more emotionally invested that in most other professions.
You speak heavily on the fear of birthing. What do you think is the first step to eradicating this fear?
I believe that there is no right way to birth and women and their families deserve to be loved, guided and supported every step of the way. The key in my experience is to help women (and their partners) understand how to work with their bodies and provide a safe place for them to work through their fears. I don’t believe we need to eradicate fears, but by educating clients on the fear, tension, pain cycle, Dr. Grantly Dick Read’s “Childbirth Without Fear” philosophies, “Birthing From Within” processes and the Neuromatrix model of pain research, we can make a huge difference in how the client may see the birth process with less stress and more confidence. Best of all, we are there with them to remind them throughout labour and with them to celebrate their baby’s arrival.
We teach a free “Childbirth Without Fear” class regularly because of how important we feel this information is and because we’ve seen first-hand the difference it can make in labour.
Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from meditating, which for me is listening or being guided above-down, inside-out to my next step and also from having an incredible network of family, friends and colleagues. I am so blessed to be surrounded by truly awesome people who inspire me everyday. My husband Scott of almost 23 years and my kids, who aren’t “kids” anymore, Cole (20) and Kyra (18) and my parents are my biggest supporters. I also have several mentors that I go see or learn through reading as often as I can by going to meetings, workshops or reading their books.
Inspiration also comes from the feedback clients give me everyday, letting me know how grateful they are to have a centre like The WOMB. Seeing them gather together regularly, even when they don’t have an appointment, is so heartwarming and rewarding!
What inspired you to open WOMB?
Although my births were great, I did have a rough postpartum experience after the births my children. I kept most of it to myself, not knowing how to work through some of the feelings I was having. At the time I felt like I was on my own and even with a very supportive family and friends I had no idea how to work through the roller coaster ride of emotions that I was going through.
I was keeping a journal at the time, which helped me tremendously. I wrote in this journal that one day I was going to open a centre and gather a team of professionals so we could help as many moms (and their families) as possible and work through all of the good, the bad, the ugly and the truth of pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting.
Why are the services you provide important?
The services we provide are all very important and a list of benefits could be an endless, but in general I believe our clients would say that the services we provide help them and their families to be healthier in SO many ways and make better informed decisions, are less stressed and are more accepting of themselves and their parenting choices.
If there is one thing you would like women to know about birth recovery, what would that be?
Physically, recovery can be just a few weeks if the birth was uncomplicated and peaceful, or a long journey and a process that may require more help from family and possibly more postnatal doula support and other healthcare professionals. Healing is very dependent also on how happy the birthing mom is with her birth experience. Healing emotionally, if a mom doesn’t feel that she was listened to, given all of the information she needed and treated with respect would require a much longer process and require counseling, support groups.
“The fear of the unknown and desire to have all the information needed to make educated decisions is one of the biggest reasons so many more people are seeking the support of a birth doula.”
Lorri is a cofounder of The WOMB, World of My Baby in Milton, Ontario. Lorri is a certified birth doula, postpartum doula and lactation educator. She has been providing exceptional birth, postnatal and parenting support for hundreds of families in Halton and surrounding areas since the birth of her second baby in 1997.
Connect with Lorri and learn more about The Womb: