meet sarah jane/ credentials

Sarah-Jane Steele Doula and Labour Services in Victoria B.C.Are you thrown off by the job title DOULA? Doula is simply the greek word for "woman's servant" but in modern times it means a woman who is trained to assist a family during childbirth and who may provide support to you after the baby is born. I came to the Doula world by default. I'd witnessed some births while working overseas as a reporter- in a couple of countries in fact, quite by accident. I felt a niggling in me to assist in some way while there, but I had no idea what that feeling meant. Later in life, I was asked to attend and support a home birth.  I had no idea that in attending that birth it would mean the "death" of my News Journalism aspirations and, the "birth" of my new (or did I always know?) calling......Labor, Birth and Postpartum support.

It has always been an inherent quality of mine to want to nurture. I suppose I thought being a “voice to the voiceless” as a journalist would do that in its own way. Journalism absolutely does empower, elicit change and help people. But – after attending my first birth I realized I had an absolute purpose there-News stories became birth stories. My ability to research aspects of labor and birth were quite strong due to my background and, through that research I came to understand that someone can’t just be directed to do something if there isn’t evidence to support why they need to do it. It’s called informed choice. In journalism school my professors would say ” Be wary if you’re at a press conference and the company  in question is buying you lunch, because, to them, they think if you eat the lunch they’ve got you in their pocket.” So became my approach to educating people on birth. Informed choice is the best choice folks can make about their bodies and babies and … just because you showed up to your birth party doesn’t mean you have to “eat the lunch.”

Journalist turned family physician Dr. Monica Kidd phrases it well

“Something happens in the medical acculturation process for a lot of people that says that patients’ stories don’t matter. What matters is fixing the problem, and the problem is very narrow and specific — and I don’t need to get involved in the rest of your life in order to do that. But I would hope that’s not the only way to practise medicine, because I don’t think that’s very gratifying for patient or physician. We’ve all been regarded as specific problems and we’ve all been regarded as whole human beings, and I don’t think there’s much question which is better. And so, in my teaching, I try to get across the importance of story and to challenge the standard scientific tradition of what is a fact and what is a truth. I want to get students to question whether physicians are expected to know the truth or whether they should constantly be questioning their own and other people’s understanding of truth.” (http://www.cmaj.ca/content/189/1/E28)

I inherently believe that care providers want what’s best for you but sometimes things get lost in translation and we leave our birth experiences wondering if we just went along with what we were told. Ask the hard questions! Be ok with that making things uncomfortable, it’s not a crime to ask that you be respected and have autonomy. I like that being a doula means I can encourage birthers to be curious, informed accurately and thus, able to leave their birth experience feeling they did all they could to make it the best it can be. We are truly lucky to live in a country where birth outcomes are relatively good for both birther and baby, but just because you get handed a healthy baby doesn’t mean your feelings about the birth don’t matter.  A Doula is there to help you to process your birth as they’ve been with you every step of the way emotionally and can assist you in debriefing which can offer great insight.

I chose to become fully certified by the governing body of Doulas for North America , DONA. My initial training took place in November of 2011 at Douglas College in Vancouver. I decided to be formally trained as a Doula after assisting a couple of births- though I do believe that much of a Doula’s “worth” lies in her ability to self study beyond the Doula training. I’ve since supported over 100 families in BC. I offer emotional support to the expectant person and their partner (if they have/ choose one), encouragement and wisdom (knowledge of procedures, positions for birthing, studies etc) throughout labor and birth.

Soon after I became certified, I became a mother (not because I attended births and it made me crave doing it myself-my little one was a complete, yet delightful surprise). My heart opened more when I became a mother. Now, I’m doing all I can to use my skills and training to be a caring and informative doula and pre/postnatal guide.  I’m also in my third year of Midwifery at UBC. I concentrate a lot on breath, self love, body connectivity and movement in my teachings, in addition to the more clinical actions of birth we must consider. I wholeheartedly believe this helps birthers courageously approach labor and birth with confidence. Having a doula should offer you the space to see and feel the beauty in labor, the beauty in birth (no matter what kind of birth), and most importantly the maintenance of that sensation of beauty and health thereafter.

My favorite things to do are:

  1. Dispel myths around labor, birth and parent hood
  2. Practice and teach safe yoga
  3. Cook delicious, healthy meals for new families
  4. knit cuddly socks and legwarmers for new babies.

Relevant Training/ Experience/ Community Involvement/ What’s that Doula up to?

300 Hr- Yoga Teacher Training- Halifax, 2008

DONA Doula Course- Douglas College- 2011.

CD DONA Designation- 2014 ( Breastfeeding Educator + 40 Births+ Member of Doulas of North America)

85 Hour Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training- Vancouver, 2012

Certificate: Midwife Assistant Training-  Ina May Gaskin, The Farm, TN, USA- 2013

Licensed EMR- Justice Institute of BC- 2013

Certificate of Attendance and participation ” When Survivors Give Birth”workshop- Penny Simkin- Victoria, 2013

Participant and Assistant for Moms Uniting Moms- 2013 http://momsunitingmoms.com/no-more-mommy-wars-a-photo-project/

Attendance at Birthing From Within- Island Mother- May 2014

Attendance at Stop Your Bladder from Running your Life Pelvic Floor and Bladder/ Bowel Awareness- Jodi Ganton- 2014

Facilitator- Mindful Mamas Meditation Group- Current-http://www.elementscentre.ca/story/mindful-mamas

Victoria Focus Group Facilitator- Changing Childbirth in BC Study- UBC Midwifery and Vancouver Foundation

Teacher Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga/ Pilates – Mothering Touch, Victoria, BC

Employed at the Midwives Collective, Victoria, BC

Acupressure for Childbirth- Stephanie Curran- September 2013

Acupressure for Childbirth with Celina Lyons R.AC, L.AC- October, 2014

Circle of Birth Lecture- Kathie Lindstrom ( Perinatal Consultant and Educator, Douglas College, UVIC), Nov, 2014-
Learned normal events of pregnancy, labour and birth, how to identify attitudes and actions that inhibit normal progress, Identify infant’s senses, reflexes and abilities present throughout pregnancy, labour and birth, Recognize the instinctive and intuitive behaviour of labour, birth and the immediate postpartum period, Discuss the importance of uninterrupted maternal/infant contact, Identify the two main reasons women abandon breastfeeding, Identify opportunities to promote, protect and support Mother Friendly Initiatives.

Postpartum Doula Training- Mothering Touch- June, 2015.

Breastfeeding Educator Course for Healthcare Providers- UVIC- Sept 2015

Currently studying to become a Midwife at UBC.


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