My Birth Philosophy…
My essential belief about birth is that it is a rite of passage – an event that changes the lives of all involved – the woman becomes a mother, the woman’s partner becomes a parent and the fetus becomes a baby. One person becomes two. Two people become three.
The act of giving birth is central to a mother’s life. It is one of the moments against which she measures time – before the kids, after the kids. She may have other central moments that shape her identity – getting a job she wants or finishing a big project or graduating – but birth is central to her identity as a mother. And women never forget their experience of childbirth.
Women forget the pain and have trouble remembering the exact order of events around the birth of their babies. But they never forget the emotions, the people, the words spoken.
As a childbirth educator and a doula, I cannot do very much to change the basic physical realities of a woman’s body and birth. But I can change how the people around her treat her. As a childbirth educator, I can help her partner understand her emotional needs in labour and how to protect and support her. As a doula I can model kind, mother-centred care, and I know from experience that it changes the atmosphere in the birth room.
My goal is to help each woman have the best, most positive birth experience she can have. And by best, I do not mean that the birth has to happen in any particular way. A woman’s experience of childbirth is not defined by the medical interventions she has or does not have, the place of birth or the manner of birth. It is defined by how she is treated by others, by how much control she feels over the events, by how well she understands what is happening to her.
It is a privilege and an honour to be chosen to support a woman and her family in pregnancy and childbirth. I am very grateful to be able to help in this special time.
I grew up all over the world – in Japan, Laos, France and Thailand as well as in Ottawa and Toronto. My father was a diplomat and my family led an exciting and peripatetic life. It led to a close-knit and loving family life and a great education in how people can be different and the same all at once.
I studied Psychology and Linguistics at the University of Toronto in the early 80’s and earned an MA in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education in 1987. It was in Toronto that I met Randy Enkin who became my husband in 1985. Together we moved to France in 1986 where Randy pursued a PhD in Geophysics while I taught English as a Foreign Language in a large French company. Our son Daniel was born (in a private maternity hospital, attended by a brisk French midwife) in Paris in 1989.
In 1991, Randy, Daniel and I moved to Edinburgh where Simon was born (at home, into the hands of a lovely NHS midwife). This is where I began my career in childbirth education with the National Childbirth Trust in 1992. I will always be grateful to the Scottish women who introduced me to this field with so much friendliness and compassion.
In 1993, our family moved to Victoria, BC. Our daughter Hannah was born at home (with the support of a kind, unregistered lay-midwife) in November of that year. I completed my training as a Childbirth Educator with the Vancouver Community College and started teaching childbirth preparation classes at the YM-YWCA of Greater Victoria in the fall of 1994.
I trained as a doula in 1994 and was certified as a doula by DONA International in 1999. I have attended over 130 births and, although in the last few years I take fewer clients, I still attend about 5-6 births a year. In 2005, I was approved by DONA International as a Birth Doula Trainer. I run three Birth Doula Workshops a year, at Mothering Touch. They are attended by aspiring doulas from Victoria, all over Vancouver Island and from as far away as Yellowknife and Calgary!
In 1999 I completed the Douglas College Breastfeeding Course for Health Professionals. I have been offering my services as a breastfeeding educator in private practice since then. It is such a rewarding and fascinating field!
In 2003, Florance Simpson and I opened the Mothering Touch Centre at the top of a heritage house on Fort Street. We moved on to a commercial location in 2004 and added a retail component to the centre. In 2005, Florance left the Mothering Touch Centre and Randy Enkin became the second partner in the enterprise. Mothering Touch became a truly family-run business when three generations of the Bild-Enkin family helped with the re-design and construction of the space at 975 Fort Street in 2008. Simon and Hannah have both worked for Mothering Touch on and off – Simon providing maintenance services and Hannah at the retail desk.
I have been involved since 2000 with Breastfeeding Matters – South Vancouver Island. I was the co-chair for several years. BfM-SVI focusses on promoting and protecting breastfeeding by providing continuing education in breastfeeding for health professionals. We also support the BC Women’s Milk Bank in Vancouver by paying for the transportation of donated human milk from the island.
My other volunteer activities include working for DONA International, the premier doula- certifying organization. I have served as Associate Editor of the International Doula, as Provincial Representative for British Columbia and as Regional Director for Western Canada.
Randy and I live in a well-loved and messy house in the Fairfield neighbourhood of Victoria. The children have moved out now, and all live in Ontario. I have been able to devote more of my time to my other passion – singing. I am a mezzo-soprano and I study voice at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Between teaching, doula work, breastfeeding support and singing, I am so is grateful for the rich life that I lead.