Meet Lisa

Registered Midwife (RM)
Bachelors Of Midwifery
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, queer and trans-inclusive, abortion positive, anti-oppressive reproductive healthcare that reflects a power transfer back to birthing families and support for all choices. I am overjoyed to be able to offer solo midwifery care as part of Prairie Midwives.

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.


Origin Story

To be clear, I do not share my birth stories to malign or glorify any one type of caregiver or birth location. Traumatic birth experiences can happen with all types of caregivers and in all birthing locations just as all caregivers are also capable of providing exceptional care in all birthing locations. I choose to share this story, because so many of the families referred to me disclose that they feel alone in their lived experience of obstetric violence and often voice that they need a caregiver who understands the depth of trauma they carry and why they may have extensive needs for absolute body sovereignty during their childbearing year.

CW: For broad descriptions of Obstetric Violence / Medical Abuse

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. In retrospect, there were many times where I didn’t feel in alignment with my caregivers and the kind of care I was receiving. I arrived at prenatal appointments excited, only to leave feeling full of anxiety and dread. My caregivers routinely diminished my concerns, appeared irritated when I asked questions and insisted that not worry – as the experts, they would handle things. I attempted to “perform pregnancy” as best as I could. I read pregnancy books, took the recommended health region prenatal classes, ate well, agreed to routine labs and ultrasounds that I had very little information about and thus couldn’t actually provide informed consent for, and followed every one of my caregiver’s recommendations to the letter. By my third trimester, several “red flag” events had occurred with my several caregivers during prenatal appointments, including a non-consensual membrane sweep during a vaginal exam that was presented as “necessary” during the appointment. Two weeks past my due date, I had lost all trust in my caregivers, and was utterly exhausted from both my prenatal care and pregnancy itself. It never occurred to me to switch care providers, or to leave the system entirely, because at the time, I believed that I had no other options available to me.

I went into spontaneous labour on the eve of a booked induction. I had steeled myself mentally for labour, and expected that my caregivers would only intervene if absolutely necessary (as had been described in the health region’s prenatal classes). 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 right to body sovereignty under the guise of producing a healthy baby. My birth process was punctuated by negligent care, verbal abuse, coercion, misinformation, humiliation and sexual assault over the course of two days – aspects of poor care that have since been recognized in recent years under the umbrella term of “obstetric violence”. When I attempted to disclose my experience at my 6 week visit to one of my caregivers (who had not attended my birth), I was told I was “mistaken” and that whatever happened, “at least I had a healthy baby”. This gaslighting and lack of accountability reinforced my lived experience of trauma and broke what little trust I had left in the healthcare system. Though I experienced severe postpartum depression during my first year of parenthood and lived with symptoms of complex PTSD for the next seven years, I actively avoided accessing care within the healthcare system – which no longer represented safety for me.

I became a certified birth doula in 2012, and was fascinated with the history and politics of western birth culture. I worked with over 250 families during this time, witnessing a full spectrum of maternity care as I attended births with midwives, family physicians, nurses and obstetricians in hospital, birth centre, and home birth settings. As a doula, I was not affiliated with any governing body or bound to an institution, and therefore was free to attend my clients on their terms. I’m a researcher at heart, so while I was teaching prenatal classes and listening to the experiences of families, I was also observing patterns in caregiver recommendations and behaviours as I attended births, along with physiologic patterns in individual birth processes. I attended holistic births, medically managed births, surgical births and witnessed every birth outcome imaginable. Although many of the caregivers I attended births with felt strongly that there was a “one right way” to safely support birth, I found that the truth of the matter was far less absolute – after all, I had witnessed similar situations approached in many different ways with different caregivers. 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 do the work 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. After years of struggling through an ongoing spiral of shame and blame around my first birth experience, 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 and a birth worker. I had promised myself that I would not take on the role of a caregiver until I had unpacked, as fully as possible, the trauma that I carried.

Two years after the birth of my third baby, I was accepted into Mount Royal University’s midwifery education program and began my journey into becoming a Registered Midwife within “the system”. 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. This literature review, along with the voices and stories of local unassisted birth parents and my previous experiences as a parent, 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”).

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 (Every two years)

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)