“What exactly is an Infant and Pregnancy Loss Doula?
Lee-Ann is an Infant and Pregnancy Loss Doula Candidate and in her own words we understand why this professional designation is so very important…
By Lee-Ann Mosselman-Clarke
Since starting this course I have often been asked, “What exactly is an Infant and Pregnancy Loss Doula?
“When I lost our baby, I was an absolute wreck not knowing what was ever going to be of my sweet baby. No one informed me of how I could bring closure for myself and for my grieving family. I cried my concerns to Lee-Ann and from the moment I did so, she made sure she did all she could to carry me, and my family, through this journey. From contacting the funeral home, contacting the hospital, spending time working through my children's grief, making sure I ate, and checking in. She was available every single step of the way. She was the one who brought my precious baby home for good,” says Jessica Bekendam.
When I walked into the training program in June 2017, I didn’t really know what was going to come of it what I would define being an Infant and Pregnancy Loss Doula as or whether my community would be receptive to someone entering such a personal space in their lives...but I knew that I wanted to help. I wanted to make sure that any family that wished to honour their baby could do so, at least for the families that I was going to be trusted to help. In becoming this type of Doula, I have learned that someone who needs you really needs you. Either because their hospital experience didn’t give them the answers to their questions, they weren’t properly informed, they didn’t get closure for their grief, or anything in between.
What I am learning and would like to educate others about Infant & Pregnancy Loss Doulas, is that we are; someone who will fight for and with you, someone who will help you put together the overwhelming pieces during a time of grief and sorrow, someone who could ask questions for you, someone who will advocate for you and your baby, someone who will be present for your birth and support you and your family and someone who can suggest ways to bond with and create memories with your baby. As IPLDs, we are here for the practical - and what might seem like the impractical - requests to loss families, we are someone who can help facilitate closure to families who have experienced infant and pregnancy loss. We are someone who will help navigate memorials/funerals/cremations.
We are someone who will educate the community- midwives, hospitals, clinics, doctors, pastors, birth doulas, nurses, funeral directors et cetera. We will teach them that some families would find meaning and perhaps healing in a funeral or memorial no matter the gestation of their baby or birth circumstance - or decide that they would like to seek closure and healing for themselves in other ways and need help to work through those steps.
The common theme that I seem to hear when talking to people about what I do is, “Miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, pregnancy loss... I don’t understand why society seems to treat them as such ‘dirty’ words?” Through hearing this repeatedly from parents, doctors, nurses, pastors, midwives and funeral directors, I’ve tried to encourage them that this is my passion as an IPLD. This needs to stop being such a taboo subject, because “a loss is a loss is a loss”. Your neighbour, sister, mother, friend or, co-worker could have experienced a loss and you might not know that they have. So many struggle and sadly will continue to struggle with talking openly about something that society wants to try to sweep under the rug.
“These are things most people wouldn’t know how to do. Most people don't educate themselves on the steps of what happens and how it happens after you lose an infant. Whether your precious child passed in the womb or not, you have rights. Lee-Ann is educated in this so that you don't have to be. She gently and compassionately walks you through the days that seem take the breath out of you. I never set out in life wanting to use such a service...and I hate that there is a tribe of us that have needed to...and that will need to. "
"But I promise, if you find your heart still having to beat on...an infant loss doula is the person you need by your side. They will carry you through. And one day, I promise you, you will see the good life offers again." Jessica Bekendam
Wrist band of connectivty
Imagine if more had the space, or resources through an IPLD to talk openly about their loss(es)? Imagine the community that they could build, knowing that they never had to feel alone? My hope would be that they could find support as they continue to grieve the loss of “what could have been”. That on the days/milestones that maybe only they remember, there’s an IPLD, or a group of they could reach out to, without it seeming “taboo”.
If you want to learn more about becoming an infant and pregnancy loss doula please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also learn more about the training and support on our HHA website!