I was born in Northern France and lived there until I was 21 years of age. I studied Social Care in France and moved to Ireland in 2004 after finishing my last year in college.
I worked in the Hospitality sector for the first year and a half in West Cork and I learned to work under pressure, be disciplined and flexible.
In 2005 I returned to Social Care and studied in Cork Institute in Technology. I graduated in 2008 and worked for the Cork Simon Community Emergency Shelter. For the following 10 years, I worked with people who experienced homelessness or were at risk of becoming homeless, many of them facing complex issues, such as addiction and mental health issues.
I trained in Mental Health First Aid, Motivational Interviewing and Key working amongst others. I learned to work with unique individuals and constantly adapt to their needs and abilities, I practiced compassion and care, I expanded on my understanding of Humanity, and got to explore and gain outstanding experience from the most resilient people I have ever met.
In March of 2010, my first son was born. The pregnancy itself was a roller coaster of entire days and nights of sickness (who ever called it ‘morning’ sickness!), hospital trips and complete shock and exhaustion. The labour was induced when I was 41+3 and my little man was born some 36 hours later after a very long induction process, some unwanted but needed drugs, some epidural, some forceps and some episiotomy. I felt destroyed, on the brink of a mental breakdown and utterly blessed. This brand new little person was given to me to look after and he turned out to be an amazing teacher for first time parents. Intransigent about his needs, strict in regards his feeding patterns, committed to relentlessly teaching us to be parents day and night, for the first 2 years of his life. I learned so much back then and learnt much more again after, when, looking back I realised there was so much more (support, self-care, rest, help I could have had) and so much less (reading, trying to be perfect, trying to be strong, trying to do-it-all) I could have done.
When our second little man was conceived, I already knew more and better as to what I needed and wanted from my pregnancy, birth and beyond. I decided to be much more relaxed, in tune with myself and take the time to take it all in without overthinking. There was no induction, there were no drugs (except for an epidural that was asked for way too late and that actually didn't work!); labour was from start to finish about 6 hours long and after 12 hours in the maternity hospital I was going home. This little boy turned out to be the easiest baby to love and look after as from the moment he was born, he had decided that breastfeeding every 3 hours and napping in between was perfectly good enough.
When I was pregnant for the 3rd time, I was well prepared for a natural birth and believed in the incredible abilities my body and mind had.
This pregnancy was easier again, no sign of sickness or even of tiredness! I had to look at my huge belly to remember I was even pregnant! I laboured at home, very slowly and calmly. I was on the phone to my ‘DOMINO’ midwife throughout the day to keep her updated. Around 9pm we left our house for the hospital and our baby girl was born completely naturally at 9.45pm. The following morning at 10am, I was home again!
This little lady taught me to mother a girl after having had two boys. I wasn't prepared for the difference it would make to me as a person, and I had to deal with and come to terms with many emotions from the past and she led me to reflect on myself as a woman. For this I am grateful, as it walked me to the path of becoming a Doula.
Because, as I reflected upon myself and my life as female, I began to give much more meaning to the values of Support and Community, I began to attach much more meaning to the words Nurturing and Sharing. I reflected upon my journey from the point of view of now being a role model to a little girl, a woman from the future, enquiring what life could be for her, what values and morals her kind would show her and share with her. And this led me to the belief that true, genuine support and understanding are paramount amongst women but that it is lacking in the lives of so many of us.
From the birth of this little girl, and her brothers before her, derives my motivation and passion for women, birthing women, new mothers and their families, women’s mental and physical health, before, during and long after their pregnancies; whether they brought home their babies or not. I want to be present, fully and unconditionally to listen to their stories, to support and validate their choices and to inform them and educate them on all matters regarding their role as mothers and their needs and wants as women. I want to guide women, new mothers towards becoming more confident and assertive in their role, I want to support their journey and make them feel loved, cared for and strong.
Amélie Nyhan, PCD(DONA)