My introduction to the birth world occurred when my mother, pregnant with my little sister, chose to stay home to give birth unassisted. Having had a traumatic birth at the hospital just fifteen months earlier, she was convinced that following her instincts and birthing at home, surrounded by her family, would be the safest option. I cannot remember this, of course, but my dad claims that I - 15 months old and way past my bedtime! - stayed by my mother's side wiping her forehead and bringing clean towels as my baby sister was being born. Hearing our birth stories growing up, I always thought about how incredible and empowering (scandalous even) her decision must have been in 1990s in post-Soviet Ukraine. Despite having no recollection of my sister's birth, I know for a fact that my mother's stories and strength have impacted my journey as a doula in ways beyond imaginable.
Becoming a Doula
Ironically, I learned about doulas only after the birth of my daughter. Having had a cesarean and struggled with postpartum anxiety, I stumbled across a group of amazing doulas in my community, and was momentarily intrigued. Initially, I chose to become a postpartum doula to assist families with the transition into parenthood and by providing the support so desperately needed in the first few weeks after birth. It made perfect sense to me. Until one day, a friend hired me to be her birth doula. I was up for the challenge and, without hesitation, quickly enrolled myself into the DONA birth doula course.
A few months later I attended the most amazing and empowering homebirth. What struck me the most is the ease and peacefulness of the undisturbed birth and how different this experience was from my hospital birth. I was so excited I couldn't really sleep for a couple days that followed. Witnessing a new life come into the world is definitely something that I can never really explain, and always tear up thinking about. It's exhilarating! And I knew that I wanted to be a birth doula ever since.
The pivotal moment in my doula career was discovering Ina May Gaskin's "Spiritual Midwifery": a series of birth stories of women who gave birth on the Farm told by the America's leading midwife. The Farm's Midwifery Center has been operating for over thirty years, and is known for its low rate for interventions, cesareans and great outcomes for maternal and newborn health, bonding, and breastfeeding. Every single story of women giving birth on the Farm made so much sense. I found it healing to read these stories of women so in tune with their bodies, confident in their abilities, and free! I was mind-blown. In the culture where birth is often seen as a medical procedure - a minor inconvenience - this holistic woman-centered approach made so much sense and felt like a breath of fresh air.
Not too long after I began my Wise Woman Way of Birth training with Jessica Austin. I felt empowered to learn about a wide array of possibilities and choices women (should) have in childbirth! I have realized that being a doula is so much more than merely providing physical support during birth, it's about being a passionate birth advocate and helping families to set up their best chance of having their ideal birth.
My Experience and Passion
My diverse background has had a large impact on how I work. As an immigrant in Canada, I come from Eastern Europe by way of Africa. Along my journey I have picked up 4 languages: I am fluent in Russian, Ukrainian, English, and Italian.
Having been through the experience of childbirth without much support, I recognize the importance of having a birth team who is compassionate, respectful, and knowledgeable. I am honoured to be working with families throughout this exciting time. Getting to share the miracle of birth is a blessing. I look forward to meeting you!
Serving: Vancouver and surrounding areas - North Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Langley, White Rock, Richmond, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge.
Here are some kind words from clients I have worked with. We love our clients!
Nicole Proud mama of Oliver
"I chose Ana as my doula because her calm and kind disposition put me at ease right away. My partner and I didn't have a specific birth plan but I was far away from my immediate family and closest friends and was looking for some extra support. Ana provided me with all the information I needed to make informed decisions and encouraged me to explore what I was capable of. Since I came to her late in my pregnancy, I had already been working with obstetricians and they recommended I be induced at 39 weeks because I was over 40. Ana was with us every step of the way and answered all my questions. When I finally began having strong contractions after being induced, she came to our apartment and ended up sleeping on the floor beside our bed and coaching me through so that we didn't go to the hospital too early. The next day we did go and I was seven and a half centimetres dilated and was admitted right away. Ana ran a bath for me and she and my husband took turns sitting with me for several hours. She provided a great deal of support to me and my husband throughout the entire process including four hours of pushing! When I first became pregnant, I thought that I just wanted a healthy baby and that it didn't matter how he or she came into the world and since I was 41 with my first, I was told that there was a higher chance that I would have a c-section. In the end, I took it
step by step and when Ana and my husband said I could do it, I started believing them. I had 34 hours of labour and delivered vaginally with no epidural and we now have the most beautiful baby boy. I'm not sure I would have believed in myself enough to do that if I hadn't had Ana's support. Her service is amazing and she completely invests all of herself into giving her clients the most positive birth experience possible. I was told a lot of different things about being pregnant at my age but Ana knew that I was healthy and strong and had faith that I could have a natural birth. Hiring her was the best thing I did for myself and our baby during my pregnancy. I would recommend Ana with all my heart to any mother-to-be."
Jennifer Proud mama of Emmy
"I had the birth of my dreams, and it is so largely attributed to Ana! She is so attentive, caring and passionate about birth. Extremely knowledgeable, but doesn't push her own agenda on you - she will listen to all your concerns/requests and accommodate wonderfully. My husband and I both agree that things would have turned out very differently had we not had Ana with us. We would highly recommend her regardless of what kind of birth you are planning - her support is invaluable!"
Jen Proud mama of Finnley
"I couldn't have asked for a better doula to support me in my birthing experience. I hired Ana early on in my pregnancy at 25 weeks and it was the best decision I made throughout my pregnancy. Ana was everything I needed her to be, in the moment I needed her. She was emotionally supportive, offered incredible resources to help me make informed decisions, and knew the right things to ask during my birth to help me make decisions with confidence. If you are planning an empowered vbac or hbac birthing experience, Ana is your doula. I felt an instant connection with her and just knew I had to hire her. My pregnancy became high risk and birth came with complications that were out of our control. When I followed my intuition in a split moment that went against my vbac birthing plans, Ana was able to pick up on my energy and was supportive and knew that this was a decision I felt I needed to make. It ended up being the best decision of my life in bringing my baby safely earthside. Had I not had the support of such an incredible doula, and have had the opportunity to feel informed and empowered leading up to this experience, I know in
my heart I wouldn't come out of it feeling at peace with my experience as I do now. Ana was there for me through it all and came back to sit with me in hospital afterwards when further complications arose, to make sure I was ok and brought my husband and I nourishment to keep us going. She is an incredible soul, and I'm so grateful to have found her! Ana has found her true calling, and I would absolutely recommend her again and again. We love you Ana!"
Trish Proud mama of Ryan
"I highly recommend Birthing Embrace! Ana was my doula for the birth of my third baby. This was my first experience using a doula and the best birthing experience out of the three. Ana was such an amazing support to my family and I. I cannot express how wonderful she is. She was such a strong advocate and made sure all of my emotional and physical needs were met during the birth of my baby. My husband and I are so grateful to have had Ana as our doula."
Roben Proud mama of Esme
"From the first moment of meeting Ana, I knew I was in good hands. She is very kind, knowledgeable and puts you at ease right away. I found her late in my pregnancy, and was seeking knowledgeable support in my natural hospital birth. She put my fears at ease and helped me to find the strength in voice to put forward what I wanted in my birth to my doctor and in my birth plan at the hospital.
From the beginning I knew I wanted as natural a birth as possible and to stay at home as long as possible, but I needed knowledgeable support to help me in this to keep my environment calm and to be my voice if I lose it in the midst of my first birth.
She was all this and more, throughout my birth from the time she arrived her calm presence added to the atmosphere of my birth. She was an anchor when needed and helped me to let go into each wave. When my fears took hold, she brought me back and helped me find my strength again. She was seamless in her help and support of my support as well.
In the hospital, where I was most afraid she never left my side and held my hand in the entire delivery. If I was lost I needed only look into her eyes and see her strength and belief in my abilities to keep moving forward.
My birth experience would not have been the same without her.
Her aftercare has been wonderful as well, in making sure my lil one and I are well supported and that our needs are met, she has many resources and knowledge about everything I've learned and faced so far as a first time mom.
If I were to have another child, Ana would be the first person I would contact to be there as my support.
I began by looking for support and left with a sister."
Katie Proud mama of McKenna
"Ana was amazing! We met the day before my labour started and she showed me a whole new world in terms of giving birth. She kept us calm at home and helped us navigate around the hospital ( I hate hospitals so I had no idea where I was going). Her calm peaceful demeanour kept the room filled with good vibes and made my birth experience amazing. Thank you you're amazing!!!"
Mona Proud mama of Isaiah
"I had my son in November. My doula was Ana! I love Ana. I had chosen her a few months before my birth.
I messaged her the morning I felt my contractions were starting. She came very quickly after and stayed with me the entire day and hours after I had my son. She has a calm energy and made me feel like I was in control of my birth. Ana helped the midwives clean up after my birth and didn't leave to go home until I was comfortable in my bed with my newborn baby.
She stopped by a couple of days later and helped me out with dishes and again didn't leave till I was resting in my bed.
Thank you Ana for being there during the most exciting and humbling time in my life."
Steff Proud mama of Fox
"Childbirth was the most unpredictable experience I've ever been through, and all of the research in the world could not have prepared me for it. Having Anastasia as part of my doula team, especially while I laboured at home, made a world of difference to both myself and my husband. It really helped to have a constant reassurance that what I was going through was normal and expected. Although my birth did not go as planned, I greatly appreciate having had people in the delivery room who were on my side and dedicated to keeping me comfortable, (hydrated!), and informed. Thank-you for supporting me through my whirlwind of a birth!"
Tabatha Proud mama of Jaxon
"Ana started working with me very late into my pregnancy as a very stressful time had just happened and I needed the support. I am so incredibly happy that I had her during the last bit of my pregnancy and labour. I felt extremely comfortable with her and she was easy to talk to, I felt that she just knew what I needed at each stage of my labor without me having to say anything to her. I honestly couldn't be more thankful for her!!"