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Male doula’s business is a labour of love
There's a pretty good chance you haven't met a male doula and that's because, as far as Kelly Carrington can tell, he's still the only one in Canada.
Carrington was working in another female-dominated field and says becoming a doula was a great way to expand on his massage practice.
His chosen professions elicit some surprise when he’s chatting with people about what he does for a living.
“So, let's say you're at a dinner party and they ask you, ‘So what do you do?’ I'm like a massage therapist and a doula. And they say, ‘No, what do you really do?’, and I say, ‘No man, that's what I really do for a living,’" Carrington says.
Carrington says he’s had that conversation more times than he can remember since becoming Canada's first certified male birth doula in 2014.
“The intention of the doula is I think more important than the gender of the doula,” says the Halifax resident. “The intention is there to help families. So what difference does it make that I'm a man? I don't think it makes a difference.”
Helping families is what drew him to the career and what he loves about it.
Stephanie Schnare doesn't think a doula’s gender makes a difference either. She and her husband Ryan used Kelly's services with their first pregnancy and have invited Carrington back to help with the delivery of their second baby.
“He's good luck!” says Schnare. “We had such an amazing experience with him the first time … it's the dynamic he brought to us.”
Schnare said she was a bit surprised that a man wanted to be around pregnant women, but it didn’t affect her decision to hire him.
“It sort of made me scratch my head,” Schnare says. “But once I met him it was such a natural fit to his personality. I think it's pretty fantastic a guy would want to be invested in pregnancy like he is.”
Carrington says a doula provides information to people starting families before, during, and after childbirth.
“We go with them to the labour and delivery and follow them afterwards,” Carrington says. “More importantly, we make a plan so they know sort of what's coming through the whole process.”
Schnare says Carrington was also great support for her husband and shared a male perspective with him.
“He was able to give Ryan coping mechanisms to help me get through contractions,” she says. “It was another person there to support him, which I think was really important.”
Carrington says he plans on being a birth doula for years to come and continues to ignore the good-natured ribbing from his friends.
“Some of my male friends do make fun of me because this is what I do, but whatever, this is what I do,” he says. “I'm always proud to say that I am, because it's less about me being a guy, it's what I do. I go on this journey with families. Babies are great right?”
With files from CTV’s Maria Panopalis.