It is our pleasure and honour to introduce the one and only: Jane Drichta! We are thrilled to have Jane lead our Doula Training and Retreat in Uganda from October 10th- October 19th.
With a resume that is second to none, Jane’s warm energy and experience have been a part of the Shanti family since she volunteered at our Birth House in 2011. Since then, she led our first Doula Training and Retreat in 2012 and has proudly served on our Board of Directors since 2015. As a Midwife, Author of the critically acclaimed The Essential Homebirth Guide, Birth and Postpartum Doula, Massage Practitioner and Trainer: it is safe to say that our retreat goers are in excellent hands!
We caught up with Jane to speak candidly about her own journey into the maternal health world, the role of doulas, and give us a sneak peak into what makes Shanti Uganda’s Doula Training and Retreat so unique!
What do you find most people think Doulas are?
Jane: I think there is a lot of confusion between what a midwife does, and what a doula does. I think most maternal health people spend time explaining that a midwife is a clinical provider, responsible for the health and safety of both mother and child, while a doula is a non-clinical member of the birth team.
In your own words, what IS a Doula?
Jane: After almost fifteen years working in maternal health and seeing how the birth world has changed, my answer to that evolves almost constantly. Right now, I see a doula as an unbiased source of information on non-clinical childbirth information, who supports the family emotionally and physically before, during and after childbirth.
What attracted you to your profession?
Jane: The ability to help women come into their power has always been extremely important to me. Sharing these peak experiences with women and seeing the changes and growth they experience through the perinatal year…it is just the best. It is an honour to attend every single birth, and I still earn something from each one.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from writing your book, The Essential Homebirth Guide?
Jane: That there is no such thing as too much coffee! No, I am always so surprised and delighted when women share their stories with me. Hearing their words and being allowed to share them with the world is an incredible responsibility that I will never take lightly.
Could you share a standout story from your years with Shanti?
Jane: Oh, gosh, there are so many, that I couldn’t even choose. Every time I am in Uganda interacting with our incredible staff and the women we serve, I am reminded that birth is bigger than all of us. There is a commonality to birth that transcends nationality or race or anything. When you are with a women in that space, it is absolutely impossible not to feel so much hope for humanity’s unity. That’s what I’ve gleaned from all these years with Shanti.
What can retreat-goers expect from your workshop and retreat for doulas?
Jane: This workshop is the highlight of my year! Retreat-goers can expect a joyful, respectful learning environment in which we pass around some deep human truths. Students will learn how to support a family through the birthing experience, physically, mentally and emotionally, in a variety of settings and situations. We will also unpack how we move through the world as individuals and what effect our own ideas and experiences around birth can have on our clients. There is something about being at Shanti that encourages deep reflections, and I want to build on the insights and knowledge our participants are bringing to the table.
How is Shanti’s Doula Training and Retreat distinct from others around the world?
Jane: We focus on births as a human rights issue and filter the didactic learning experience through that lens. There is a lot of emphasis on cross cultural support, and how to be aware of one’s own place in the world and how that can affect a client’s experience. We go deeply into the politics of the birth room, and the role of privilege and institutionalised power structures.. It is a unique programme, and there could not be a better place for it than our Birth House in Uganda.
What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give someone entering a career in maternal health?
Jane: Get yourself straight with who you are and what your own motivations are for coming to this work. It is joyful and beautiful, and intense and messy and important, but you must be able to really know yourself and your heart and motivations before you can truly support a woman in birth. Work through your own experiences and be clear in both your head and your heart. If you can do this, then your best self will shine through and your connections with your clients and colleagues will be pure and sincere.