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by Ashley Collins

Choosing a childbirth education program has been a struggle for me, until I found BirthWorks International. Some programs place a heavy value on one "method" over another. Some will provide tools parents need to cope with a birth at a home or at a hospital but rarely will help women develop a universal "know-how" and help them trust in their gut instincts. I spent a great deal of time searching for a program that would prepare mothers for whatever path their birth journey took. I looked for a program that helped women create trust in their bodies, instill confidence in their partners to best support them and to remove the fear of birth that our culture has created today. I am happy to have found this training through BirthWorks International.

As a birth doula, I support women from all walks of life who have a wide-range but still deeply personal beliefs and goals for their births. It's never my job to judge or create bias for certain birth preferences over another. It's simply my duty, as their advocate, to provide couples with all the resources thy could need to make an educational, very informed decision that is best for their family. As a BWI Instructor, I would strive to help maintain this level of non-bias in my classes and hope to help women learn to trust their own instincts, especially during birth.

It is also an important role of mine, as a birth doula, to listen for any hidden fears from expecting parents and to help them process those worries prior to giving birth (if possible). Often times, empowering mothers and partners with information can help remove some of the fear, but sometimes just providing a safe space to talk through concerns is just as powerful. This is never-more true than with experienced parents who have experienced previous birth trauma. As a doula, I've seen over and over labors stalled or slow to start because the mother has a mental or emotional block. By gently offering a chance to talk through her fears or even just an opportunity to speak them aloud, her labor and birth will likely quickly pick up. Creating a safe space in my class for parents to work with me and/or each other, in community, to help bent their fear or work through past traumas will be a priority of mine.

My own daughter's birth was quite traumatic for my husband and I. Born at barely 29 weeks via emergency cesarean; we are a real-life lesson of "best laid plans gone off track"! I fully understand, through my own experiences, that a laboring mother's goals may change, and I want to have the opportunity to help her feel prepared for her birth no matter what path it takes!

I also hope to instill the importance of breastfeeding for both baby and mother to my students. My daughter, despite being born so small and so early, was able to breastfeed for 15 months, starting at just 30 weeks gestational age! She is a testament to the power of breast milk for infant development and nutrition!

Additionally, I can absolutely support VBAC mothers and partners in their trails of labor. As a cesarean mother and local ICAN member, I will make sure my students are aware of the abounding VBAC resources we have in our area by connecting them to supportive care providers, upcoming ICAN meetings and helping them build trust again in their own bodies!

Finally, I am very much looking forward to completing the training required to become a BirthWorks International instructor. I feel that the mothers and partners of Durham, NC and surrounding areas will truly benefit from having classes so close to home. I hope that by keeping my classes small, and held in my own home, I can help create a sense of community among expecting parents as they walk along a similar life path.