MOST people have no idea what a doula is.
Claire Wyborn didn't and yet it was exactly the career she had always dreamed of.
Ms Wyborn wanted to be a “birth buddy” or doula which is a qualified, non-medical birth companion trained and experienced in childbirth.
Ms Wyborn said it was only after her own life crisis that she began to focus on what was important and the direction she wanted to take.
“I was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis) in 2005 and could not continue my work as a supermarket department manager,” she said.
“My marriage broke up and I was feeling pretty bad. Thankfully my three children, aged 17, 19 and 23, got me through it and I started to think about what I really wanted in my life.
“I knew if I had my time over I would study midwifery but I just didn't feel I could do that now. But I knew I would be great in a support role.
“And a doula fits that description as she is knowledgeable in the skills of relaxation, massage, breathing and birth positions to support women in childbirth.”
Ms Wyborn, who has lived in Murwillumbah for 30 years, completed a course through Optimum Birth and received a certificate as a fully qualified doula in December last year.
“I have now done three births - one hospital waterbirth, one home birth and one hospital caesarean birth,” she said.
“I know I can offer a lot of support to women and understand that they all have different outcomes in pregnancy and birth.
“A doula is a constant, consistent support during labour and birth regardless of the type of birth.”
“The first birth I attended lasted for 33 hours and I was there the whole time,” she said.
“It is a very intimate experience and you can't help but feel connected and whole when helping a woman through her birth experience.”
Ms Wyborn said as a doula she does not replace a midwife or obstetrician but supports the woman through her birth and helps her husband or partner through the experience as well.
“I encourage women to learn all they can during their pregnancy and join a support group because knowledge is power and when there's fear there's pain,” she said.
“Hospitals are generally accepting of doulas as it can take the pressure off them a little. I complement their care while still knowing my place. I am there purely in a support role.
“And it's essential for all women to have that. A doula really is the ultimate birth companion and can connect on a deep level as they know what you're experiencing.
“As a doula I'm trained in different relaxation methods which can help during the stages of labour. My role is to serve the mother and ensure she has the experience she desires.
“And I am so fulfilled by this work.
“It was a real epiphany after attending my first birth last year. I knew I was doing what I was meant to be doing - it's clarifying and very special - an intense but fulfilling journey and I give 100 per cent of my love and commitment to each client.”
Ms Wyborn said she had also been able to combine her quilting talents with her new career, offering a package that includes a personalised baby quilt.
“I feel like I've come home and what's beautiful is I combine my love of quilting with this work and am able to offer that as part of my services,” she said.