An Interview with Jennifer Gillean: Full Spectrum Doula & Embodied Yoga Therapist
What is Birthing From Within & how does it differ from other birth classes?
Becoming a parent doesn’t just begin at pregnancy or birth, but has been an evolving process since we began to notice our world around us. In addition to the information and modern ways of knowing needed to prepare for birth and parenthood, the Birthing From Within approach processes and teachings acknowledge that becoming a parent is much more than just accumulating information and/or advocating for your own wants and needs during birth and the postpartum period. The Birthing From Within approach was created by Pam England to support folks through their transformational journey to becoming parents. It is a holistic and inclusive set of practices which help to anchor the learnings in a connected and personal way by making space to honour this sacred transition into parenthood as a meaningful journey through life.
Working as a birth companion to women and families in times of extreme vulnerability (infant loss, pregnancy loss, abortion) is brave and beautiful. Why did you go into this and how has it changed your life? AND What has been the most rewarding part of working with women and their families during childbirth?
Sometimes I wonder how it could be that I have had some pretty intense fertility experiences? From abortion, to multiple miscarriages, pregnancy after loss, second trimester miscarriage (which felt like a stillbirth), an unwanted cesarean, a posterior, unmedicated home birth and a baby born in a birthing centre (with a pit stop at the side of the road to call 9-1-1 and a police escort through rush hour traffic to make it there in time to birth my babe who was born with a birth defect). As intense and wholly unprepared as I was, I learned so much about who I am and the kind of person that I want my children to learn from and to remember me by. This path that I am on – being a companion and mentor to those at the roundabout to where life meets loss feels like a path that chose me – that perhaps even started before I was born. Most precious about this work is showing up wholeheartedly for those in times of beauty and heartbreak. We were never meant to struggle alone and for me, being human in this life is about making meaning and connecting with those around us.
What is a Full Spectrum Doula and what services do you offer that make you special?
So much of today’s doula work focuses on live births of healthy babies, however there are many folks whose path into parenthood or through fertility experiences are not as straightforward. Many Full Spectrum Doulas are known to work with folks through all kinds of births and fertility experiences like abortion, induction termination, miscarriage, stillbirth, adoption, surrogacy and consider themselves to be reproductive justice advocates.
Being a Full Spectrum Doula is important to me as it symbolizes my deep acknowledgment to the powerful and transformational paths that creating, ending or fostering life in or near the body can be in becoming a parent or a mature adult. So many folks are deeply affected by their experiences and struggle with very little support. Because of my own personal experiences, and specific training as: a Birthing From Within Mentor & Birth Story Listener; a birth companion with Mothercraft; a Pregnancy and Infant Loss Doula; an Orphan Wisdom Scholar, and an Embodied Yoga Therapist, my approach and willingness to support what is needed, is what makes my services unique, comprehensive and inclusive.
What is Yoga Therapy and how do you integrate this to your holistic work supporting families?
So much has changed in my life (and the industry of yoga) in the 18 years that I have been teaching yoga. I have often wondered how I can be more authentic and supportive than just helping folks to “feel good” after a class or a private session for those with whom I work with? And then life introduced me to Cassi and Anne’s School of Embodied Yoga Therapy, here in Ottawa.
What I am really excited about is bringing an embodied, therapeutic approach to my prenatal, birthing, and postpartum services. Studying to be a Professional Yoga Therapist has honed my skills in working with people’s nervous systems, particularly the Vagus nerve, as well as the patterns that underlie our thoughts, breath, physical movements, daily rhythms and our relationships. I am focusing my practicum on working individually and in small groups with those who have struggled through all kinds of fertility related experiences. The scope and breadth of a Yoga Therapy Session is grounded in evidence based research, Yoga Philosophy & Ethics and it is a path for folks to reconnect physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.
Join us Fall 2020!
Join Jennifer for her Prenatal Yoga Therapy 3 part series for Mom, starting October 14th at Bloom Integrative Health & Movement Centre.
This class will give you the time, space, tools and practices to encourage some new embodied patterns and build on your resources before baby comes. Of course we’ll be exploring with breath work, yoga and Birthing From Within practices too!
The class size is kept small (max 4 people), so we can connect in person (while maintaining proper physical distancing), as well as to ensure individual customization of our sessions to fit your needs and comforts. Classes are 90 mins in duration.
To learn more about Jennifer and her offerings, please see her website here or view her video on her approach to care.
Disclaimer – Everything shared is for informative purposes only. It is not intended for assessment, diagnosis or treatment purposes. If you feel there needs to be further investigation, please seek out a qualified health care professional for a proper assessment.