The course involved foundational doula classes which included subjects such as: birth choices, preparing for birth, pregnancy support, doulas and fathers/partners, support strategies for pre, early and active labour, waterbirth, homebirth, pain relief, interventions, natural alternatives, caesarean surgery and unexpected outcomes, labour's 3rd stage and the placenta, lotus birth, the first gaze and the first hour, breastfeeding, life with a new baby, sleep, and post natal relationships and emotions.
This course also included: written assessments, completing level 1 of Shivam Rachana's Spiritual Midwifery course, childbirth preparation classes, early parenting discussion sessions, a five day women's retreat and individual healing sessions. Course coordinators emphasised that birth serving is "being with" the mother but that one "cannot 'be with' someone else until she can 'be with' herself". This is why ICSM includes individual sessions in their course and maintain a support network for their graduates.
I now enjoy serving families throughout pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. I have found that what services I provide are entirely dependent on what the individual woman and her family want. I have sewn heat packs with a birthing mother, made women laugh through contractions, hand crafted birth announcements for friends and family of the new baby, cared for siblings at homebirths, scooped poo out of the birth pool, taken birth photos, provided counterpressure to sore lower backs, to name just a few services I can think of. I believe the relationship between birth servant and those she serves will grow organically and as a need arises I meet it as best I can.
Once qualified, breastfeeding counsellors provide breastfeeding support via telephone and email counselling, as well as in-person sessions within the community. They also run mothers group gatherings across Australia. Many of these group meetings centre around a particular breastfeeding or parenting topic which mothers can learn more about.
During my PhD canditature I also worked as a Subscriptions Editor, followed by Editor in Chief of a fully referreed academic journal, entitled Melbourne Journal of Politics. I worked with a team of editors to restrucutre the editorial team into a more efficient unit with clearly defined roles and the style guide I penned remains the style guide used to date.
During this time I also volunteered for WIRE-Women's Information, an organistion that provides referals, support and information to women in Victoria and runs a 9 to 5 helpline during week days. This work involved researching for and writing information sheets about pregnancy, childbirth and abortion. I also worked as a media monitor for WIRE briefly and assisted in facilitating a feminist education session for high school students.
The skills I learned and wisdom I inherited (from my feminist educators in particular) on my journey toward becoming an academic remain valuable tools to my work as a birth activist and a mother. I continue to be inspired by the great work of feminist academics, but ultimately feel that I am of better use to my sisters as birth servant and breastfeeding counsellor.