The Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) helps military families, even before some family members are born.
The MFRC provides the services of doulas, non-medical people who assist a mother and/or her partner before, during, and after childbirth.
“We provide emotional and physical support to the parents,” says Lt(N) Ashley Logan, a volunteer doula with the MFRC. “No matter what the exact circumstances of the birth are, for a lot of people having an educated person there who has seen the process before can make such a huge difference to them.”
Lt(N) Logan took a doula certification course while on maternity leave last year and has been volunteering with the MFRC as a doula since July. She says her favourite part is being able to give back to military families in the same position she was once in.
“After I went through childbirth, I realized it’s a much bigger process than I thought it was,” she says. “I love being able to provide a supportive atmosphere for the mothers and their partners. It comforts them to know that I’ve been through it as well.”
Doulas take an almost never ending number of workshops and courses to familiarize themselves with all the aspects of childbirth such as breastfeeding workshops, child birthing workshops, and courses on postpartum depression.
“Our goal is to make both parties more comfortable any way we can,” says Lt(N) Logan. “That can mean helping the mother find more comfortable birthing positions, mentally preparing the husband for his wife’s caesarean birth, or even just staying with the mother so the father can go get a snack.”
Lt(N) Diane Larose, a Public Affairs Officer currently on maternity leave, came across the MFRC’s doula program while pregnant with her first child. Of her two births, both have been at home, and both have been attended by a doula. The second birth was attended by her friend, Lt(N) Ashley Logan.
“We met each other while we were changing trades,” says Lt(N) Larose. “I heard that she took the doula program, so naturally I wanted her with me. It was an amazing experience.”
“Having someone with me who could help both me and my husband relax was invaluable,” she says. “I couldn’t imagine having another child without a doula there.”
The doula service was beneficial in many ways for Lt(N) Larose and her husband, including emotionally.
“Both of our families live out of province,” she says. “It was important that we have someone close to us there, to help us get through the process.”
The doula program is freely available to all military members, regardless of deployment, through the MFRC.
“I think it’s great that they’re taking the time to consider how the mother and father feel during the birthing process,” says Lt(N) Larose. “They do so much for families, it’s amazing the lengths they go to.”
The MFRC program has been in operation for 16 years and has helped deliver more than 150 babies. More information on the MFRC’s doula program can be found at esquimaltmfrc.com.
Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer
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