Empowering women from conception to birth plan

  • Practical advice: As-Utchamet Stovell, with daughter Khisaramen, is training to be a doula (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Take vitamins, don’t sleep on your back, have a birth plan and don’t forget to play classical music for your baby.

Women are given so much information on how to have a healthy child, As-Utchamet Stovell believes it often ignores the wellbeing of the mother.

The holistic pregnancy and birth advocate started In Love Consulting Services to support women exploring natural pregnancy and birth.

Her own “phenomenal” home birth made her want to share that experience with others.

The 40-year-old is training to be a doula although she believes the services she now provides are “equally beneficial”.

Clients receive practical advice before conception and through labour and help in laying out a birth plan. Ms Stovell also gathers the tools required for an at-home birth.

“As a home-birther, my intent is simply to ensure that more of us are educated about pregnancy and birth prior to conception,” she said.

“I have been a holistic pregnancy and birth advocate for almost 20 years [and] over the years I have learnt that there are different avenues to explore in order for our experiences to truly be empowering.

“I help women look at all of them so that we can make informed decisions throughout the whole process.”

Preparing to give birth to her daughter at home two years ago, she thought she was well equipped.

She had read everything, watched documentaries and spoken with midwives, doulas and other women. She gathered music, incense and a birthing pool to create the perfect environment.

Still, she wasn’t ready.

“No one could have prepared me for the spiritual aspect of it,” she told Lifestyle.

“I’d been an advocate for at least the last 15 years. By the time I conceived I was pretty equipped, at least intellectually. “Many women tend to get caught up on the aesthetics — incense, music, candles. That may or may not be something that you’ll use. Let that go.”

Her hope is to empower women who have similarly taken in a lot of practical information, to trust themselves.

“When a woman is in tune with herself, when she knows going into pregnancy what she wants, what she does not want, what is working for her, what is not working for her, it is incredibly empowering,” she said.

She believes accounts of “stressful” births and pregnancies are often the outcome of too much unsolicited advice.

“Whether it be from friends and family or medical practitioners, if a woman is not empowered, she just gets caught up in everyone else’s experiences and opinions and perspectives and isn’t really able to go to that place in herself to hear what her own intuition and divine wisdom is telling her.

“So many people are focused on healthy baby, that you skip over mother — it doesn’t matter what her pregnancy experience is, just have a healthy child.”

Although all didn’t go as planned, her home birth was “phenomenal”, she said.

“I knew that I wanted to have access to my [birthing] pool, but I wasn’t caught up on whether I was actually going to water birth or whether I needed to get out.

“If you give yourself flexibility, you’re more inclined to give yourself the outcome that you want.”

As it happened, she decided to get out once it was actually time to give birth.

The whole process was made easier by her partner, Mukeså Nera (Clay Smith). “He was as supportive as any partner could be in the whole process,” she said.

“He was always at prenatal appointments, he always had his own set of questions and comments, which I encourage other couples to do as well.”

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