Nour Emam always wanted to become a doula. When she found herself struggling with postpartum depression, something stirred inside of her and awakened her dream. She decided to train to become a doula so that she can support as many women as possible. She trained with a Toronto-based birth work training called Bebo Mia. She also did an online training through the University of Exeter for Postpartum depression management. She started Mother Being, a maternity care service, and has been helping women through it ever since, working not only as a birth doula, but also as a fertility, pregnancy, birth and postpartum doula. We sat down with Nour to learn all about Mother Being and how it serves women.
Please define Maternal Support Practitioner for those who are not familiar with the term.
A Maternal Support practitioner (also known as a doula), is a trained professional, who provides information, advice, emotional and physical comfort and support to women and families before, during and after childbirth.
Did you launch Mother Being shortly after your training ended? If so, was it challenging with the baby?
I started planning for Mother Being while I was training and was working on the website and services during the training. It was extremely difficult. My daughter was still nine months old and wasn’t sleeping well. I was still depressed and anxious, but I had something to look forward to.
Tell us about the services you offer.
I currently offer one-on-one work with clients who either want to start trying for a baby and want to learn how to optimize their chances naturally, or are undergoing fertility treatments (IVF) or have had miscarriages or stillbirths and need support. I help families during pregnancy and am with them at their births as well. I also offer postpartum support to new mothers. Additionally, I offer a postpartum depression management program. This, however, is not therapy. It is a step before going to see a therapist. I also currently offer a cycle-awareness education class that is catered to all women in their fertile years.
It’s difficult when I’m working with clients or even teaching the periods class and need to convince them that it’s okay to take a mirror and look at their vulvas for example
There is stigma attached to the female reproductive system here in Egypt. Is it difficult to convince women to explore their bodies?
I think we live in a different time now and women are starting to feel like they have the right to learn about their bodies. It’s difficult when I’m working with clients or even teaching the periods class and need to convince them that it’s okay to take a mirror and look at their vulvas for example.
Men join their wives during pregnancy and birth consultations and are even sometimes present for postpartum home visits
Do you ever get male participants in classes? Do men join their wives for consultations?
Men join their wives during pregnancy and birth consultations and are even sometimes present for postpartum home visits.
You offer a class on menstruation for women who never received this information. How do you propose we spread this kind of knowledge more? Should it start in schools?
My goal is to create a program, which can be proposed to private and public schools to start teaching students about these topics. I also hope to create a class for parents with kids, who are close to puberty, on how to talk to them about these topics as well.
Women need to know that they’re the ones in control
In your opinion, what must change in order for women’s reproductive rights to thrive?
I think women need to know that they’re the ones in control. I believe that once women start realizing that they have the choice to say no to medical interventions, or to ask for options and reasons, rather than taking doctor’s orders at face value, they will force doctors who refuse to progress, to start rethinking their practices.
How do you believe Mother Being can help in advancing women’s reproductive rights?
I want Mother Being to always be a safe space for women. I am always happy to refer followers to doctors and practitioners who are known for their ‘up-to-date’ practices and who will support these women the way they want to be supported.
How has the Egyptian public received Mother Being?
It’s been incredibly positive. I keep getting private messages of women who just thank me for existing and creating this platform and business.
What is your best advice for women to be able to handle pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum?
Hire a doula! If they don’t want a doula, taking a childbirth prep class with the partner is a great way to help them get involved and learn how to support them. Also, find a really good doctor – I’m always happy to refer you to some. Work hard on building a solid postpartum plan, and create a support system.
Which of the services you offer is your favorite to perform? Which is the hardest?
I love teaching the periods class, because I’ve designed it in a fun and open way. The hardest is supporting infertility and pregnancy loss clients. It’s also extremely difficult to support clients who have had miscarriages or stillbirths, because that’s a different type of grief.
What are your future plans for Mother Being?
I would love for it to become a space that trains or supports people who want to train as doulas, financially, and create a team of doulas and birth workers who work alongside me. And I would love for it to branch out into charity work.