"It is my mission to change the way that women, and birthing people, give birth by empowering them to pursue and achieve their dream pregnancy and birth experience, no matter who they are or where they are in their journey."
In February of 2020 I learned that I was pregnant. It was the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic and there was a lot of fear and uncertainty on a global scale. Growing up I had always been taught that pregnant women should be treated like princesses, and I observed that in society, they were always given first priority when it came to absolutely everything. This made sense to me because, pregnancy was always depicted as a difficult but honourable thing to do.
When I began my prenatal care, I expected, like anyone else, to be treated with respect and given the opportunity to give informed consent. I also planned to follow all of the medical advice that I was given because I expected my best interests would always be in mind.
My family doctor referred me to "the nicest" obstetrician in the area. I had preexisting health conditions and it was recommended that I see an OB for my primary care. It was now March of 2020 and the most severe of the health restrictions were in place. I was thankful that I even had an appointment with a doctor. My first appointment was a really awful experience with a substitute doctor who was filling in for my doctor. She went through a check list with me, and ordered a bunch of tests, without explaining any of them to me. The only thing that was presented as optional was a genetic blood test. The options were to either choose the test that was covered by my medical insurance, or the test that I would have to pay out of pocket for. When I tried to ask for more information about the tests she was quite rude towards me and angrily cut me off, saying that she had already explained my options.
I was grateful that this woman was not going to be my doctor beyond this appointment. Surely, my actual doctor would be much better, treat me with respect and give me the opportunity to give informed consent. My actual doctor, was indeed quite nice, however, my appointments with him were only ever 5 minutes long. Every time I arrived a nurse took my urine sample, weighed me and took my blood pressure. I was never told what any of the results were. I felt like I was on a "Need To Know" basis and apparently, never needed to know. Any questions that I was able to ask were met with vague, one sentence answers. And information that I needed, but didn't know to ask for was never freely offered.
Being a first time mom, I had no way of knowing what was normal during prenatal care, and what was different because of the public health restrictions. All I knew was that I certainly wasn't being treated like a princess.
I did what I could on my own. Resources were scarce as most things were shut down and had not had the time to move over to virtual options. I ready several books, that had been recommended to me. I watched prenatal classes that I found on YouTube. I followed advice to exercise and stay active. I did everything right. But I was not in any way prepared.
The pregnancy itself was uneventful until the last month. I questioned why I was even labeled as "high risk" in the first place. At 34 weeks I reached my breaking point. I was really fed up with the 5 minute appointments and I found myself a midwife. My appointments with her were an hour long and we often ran out of time. There was too much that I needed to learn and not very much time to discuss everything. I continued to see my obstetrician alongside the midwife because I needed a doctor to keep monitoring my blood pressure situation. In Canada, midwives are not allowed to manage blood pressure even though they have the training to do so. I was quite nervous that he would be angry with me for switching my care last minute. His reaction was quite difficult to interpret, because he seemed happy and excited on the outside, but his questions for me were strange and manipulative.
Once I reached the end of my pregnancy, I started to have complications. I had many appointments in the hospital, both planned and unplanned, to be monitored. My experience in these appointments were very hit or miss. The staff were sometimes nice, and sometimes rude and disrespectful. Again, it was hard to know what was normal, given the added stress of the pandemic. I did my best to get through it, but the last few weeks were incredibly upsetting and stressful.
I learned later that many hospital protocols had been broken when it came to my care.
When I finally did come to the hospital to give birth, I had a horrific experience that left me incredibly traumatized and barely functioning afterwards. But the thing that I kept being told was that my experience was "normal". I realized then that these people do this to their clients every day. That a traumatic birth experience is a normal birth experience for them. I refused to accept that. And I refused to accept my new reality. I sought out help for my trauma. I needed to get better for the sake of my family, my baby and myself. If you want to learn more about how I overcame my trauma you can read my story here.
After my horrible perinatal care experience I was angry and I wanted to do something to help others, not to fall into the same traps that I did. In the greater birth community I kept seeing people complaining about the same things that had happened to me. This problem is systemic, cultural and global.
And so, now:
It is my mission to change the way that women, and birthing people, give birth by empowering them to pursue and achieve their dream pregnancy and birth experience, no matter who they are or where they are in their journey.
This has become my passion and purpose.