Meet Lisa

Registered Midwife (RM)
Holistic Birth Consultant
Community Herbalist
Birthing From Within™ Mentor

(She/Her)

For a seed to achieve its greatest expression,
it must come completely undone.
The shell cracks, its insides come out

and everything changes.
To someone who doesn’t understand growth,
it would look like complete destruction.

– Cynthia Occelli

My personal midwifery practice is deeply rooted in the understanding that optimal maternity care exists when birthing people have access to a full spectrum of options and are unequivocally supported to navigate their pregnancies and births under their own authority. I provide full spectrum, trauma informed, actively anti-oppressive, queer and trans-inclusive, abortion positive, reproductive healthcare that reflects a power transfer back to birthing families. I am overjoyed to be able to offer midwifery care as part of Prairie Midwives.


Origin Story

In 2008, I gave birth to my first baby, and my world completely unravelled. Stories like mine are far from being in short supply, and as such, his birth was both profound and hopelessly mundane. I did all the “right” things throughout my pregnancy. I ate well, took the childbirth classes, agreed to the labs and ultrasounds, ticked off all the boxes, followed my caregiver’s recommendations. I was perfectly compliant. While there were many times where I didn’t feel “quite right” about the relationship with my caregivers. I found myself leaving appointments wondering why I hadn’t been able to question authority, decline recommendations that I felt weren’t in my best interests or advocate for the kind of care that I needed. In retrospect, I was motivated into compliancy through a culture of fear. The fear of “doing it wrong”, of living with a bad outcome, of failing as a parent, of upsetting my caregivers, of breaking the rules, of not being loved, accepted or enough.

I went into spontaneous labour on the eve of a booked induction. I expected that I would cope through an increasingly intense labour and eventually give birth to my baby, with my caregivers standing by in case help was needed. What I didn’t expect, was that I would navigate a deeply hierarchical political system of protocols, policies and biases that would completely erase my personhood and body sovereignty in pursuit of a healthy baby. My birth process was punctuated by negligent care, verbal abuse, coercive counselling, misinformation and outright sexual assault over the course of two days – aspects of poor care that have since been recognized in recent years under the umbrella term “obstetric violence”. Continued gaslighting from my caregivers in the immediate postpartum period reinforced my lived experience of trauma, and I entered into parenting with severe postpartum depression and lived with symptoms of complex PTSD for the next seven years. After years of struggling through an ongoing spiral of shame and blame, I was able to access birth trauma counselling that validated my experience and helped me grapple with the complexity of institutional birth culture as a parent, a birthworker and much later, as a Registered Midwife working within “the system”.

I became a birth doula in 2012 after starting a deep dive into the politics and history of western birth culture. I witnessed the full spectrum of maternity care as I supported families to give birth with midwives, family physicians, nurses and obstetricians in both urban and rural hospital, birth centre, and home birth settings. As a doula, I was not affiliated with any governing body or bound to the institution, and therefore was free to attend my clients on their terms, while observing patterns in caregiver behaviours and beliefs, individual birth processes, normal birth physiology, medically managed births, surgical birth and every birth outcome imaginable. Although many of the caregivers I attended births with felt strongly that there was a “one right way” to support birth, I found that the truth of the matter was far less absolute. I eventually shifted my doula practice into one of Holistic Birth Consulting, which allowed me to continue to provide non-medical birth support and childbirth education in a role that better aligned with my politics and activism.

I had two more babies within a five year period. With each birth, I reclaimed new levels of body sovereignty and continued to give myself permission to make increasingly autonomous decisions that were in alignment with my needs, rather than defaulting to what made my caregivers most comfortable. I raised my children surrounded by obstetrical textbooks and online webinars as I immersed myself in on-call life, taught childbirth classes, attended births and traveled around Canada and the United States seeking out increasingly comprehensive midwifery training workshops. Two years after the birth of my third baby, I was accepted into Mount Royal University’s midwifery education program.

During my senior year, I authored an extensive literature review exploring the factors that motivate parents to choose unassisted birth outside of conventional maternity care systems in countries where integrated midwifery care is accessible. This literature review, along with the voices and stories of local unassisted birth parents and my previous experiences as a doula and holistic birth consultant have deeply informed my professional approach to upholding the rights of birthing parents and the facilitation of harm reduction strategies within my personal midwifery practice. I completed my Bachelor of Midwifery degree in 2020 as one of five surviving members of the aptly nicknamed “Hunger Games” cohort (hence the tongue-in-cheek homage to “Mockingjay”).

Outside of my birth work, I’m a complex and often contradictory human who loves coffee, whiskey, cats, gardening, wild fermentation, new tattoos, loud music, knitted sweaters, reading books & cozy fireplaces.

Experience

I have experience providing unconditional support and midwifery care in both urban and rural birth settings for families during:

  • Unmedicated Vaginal birth
  • Vaginal Birth Assisted With Medication
  • Vaginal Twin Birth*
  • Vaginal Breech Birth*
  • Water Birth
  • Vaginal Birth After Previous Caesarean (VBAC)
  • Home Birth After Previous Caesarean (HBAC)
  • Caesarean Birth After Previous Caesarean (CBAC)*
  • Induction of labour
  • Planned Caesarean Birth*
  • Unplanned Caesarean Birth*
  • Premature Labour & Birth *
  • Pregnancy Loss (including miscarriage, stillbirth)
  • Medical & MVA Abortion Care

*Attended in a supportive care role during birth.


Education

Bachelor Of Midwifery Degree (MRU) (April 2020)

Emergency Skills Workshop For Midwives Certification (ESW) (Every two years)

Fetal Health Surveillance Certification (Every two years)

Neonatal Resuscitation Certification Program (Annually)

CPR – Healthcare Provider Certification(Annually)

Upright Physiologic Breech Birth Training (Shawn Walker) – UBC (February 2020)

SOGC’s ALARM Workshop – Midwifery Clinical Training Module (November 2019)

IPAS MVA & Medical Abortion Clinical Training – Midwifery Clinical Practicum (April 2019)

Early Pregnancy Loss Clinic – Midwifery Clinical Practicum (April, 2019)

Birth Monopoly’s “Know Your Right’s” Course (March 2019)

Herbal Medicine For Women with Aviva Jill Romm MD (2013 – Present)

Rebozo For The Childbearing Year with Ligia Delfin & Carla Jonguitud (April 2018)

Neonatal Resuscitation with Karen Strange (Feb 2018)

Breech Birth with Shawn Walker (Feb 2018)

Breech Skills with Joy Horner (Feb 2018)

Labwork for Midwives with Gail Hart (Feb 2018)

Holistic Management of Miscarriage & Abortion with Molly Dutton Kenny (Sept 2017)

“Flock Yeah” birth workshop with Gena Kirby, Lesley Everest (July 2017)

Holistic Birth Consultant Certification with Whapio Bartlett (The Matrona – July 2017)

Indie Birth Conference (March 2017)

“Holding Space For Pregnancy Loss” with Amy Wright Glenn (March 2017)

“Flock Yeah” birth workshop with Gena Kirby, Whapio Bartlett, Lesley Everest) (July 2016)

Indie Birth Wise Woman Circle (2016 – Present)

Birthing From Within Mentor Training (April 2016)

Birthing From Within Mentor Training (June 2015)

Birthing From Within Birth Story Listening (April 2015)

“The Farm” Midwifery Assistant Workshop with Ina May Gaskin CPM (April 2013)

DONA Birth Doula Certification (March 2013)

DONA Birth Doula Training (May 2012)

Registered Dental Assistant – Surgical (2005-2009)