Sona Jany – Louhivuori has many different professions. By education, she is a musical actor. Driven by enthusiasm and interest in human bodies, she became a certified masseur and HypnoBirthing® doula. Sona is a doula with a positive mindset, eager to learn and to stay humble. Our conversation was emotional, open and we were also laughing a lot. Based on our interview, you can read 2 different articles. In this first part, we focus more on Sona’s motivations and how she has become a doula. In the second article, we will speak more about the profession of a doula.
I was always wondering how we chose our professions. I don’t believe there is a coincidence in this choice and I assume that all our experiences determine our inclinations. The journey in becoming a doula has started for Sona most probably many years ago.
“I have always had a very strong connection towards the human body. I had studied musical acting and I am also a licenced masseur. I guess I have always had a gift to feel wherein the body is the problem located. I had given massages to my co-students and I happened to also be helping with acute problems that might have occurred during our performance’s tours. Also, my previous practice in work with women, with female reproductive organs preceded my work as a doula. I had realized different workshops for women on how to better know and understand their bodies and their period cycle.”
Naturally, as the years were passing, more of Sona’s friends became pregnant. She was a witness of their voyage through pregnancies, miscarriages and labor itself. She has learnt from peer experiences. One of her friends, who is a doula in the Czech Republic, was the greatest source of information and support.
“My own experience with giving the childbirth was so beautiful, that I had tensions to scream that childbirth doesn’t need to be only a trauma. That it doesn’t need to be just about a huge fear and enormous pain. It doesn’t mean that child birthing is not intense. But it can be a wonderful experience after all. It can be an empowering and inspirational experience… My own prenatal preparation was great and it was in a way also the start of my doula training. It is different if somebody who you trust works with you for a long time before actual childbirth. It was pretty standard when I was pregnant that prenatal preparation was about listening to a 1-hour long lecture. And my friend had a different approach that melted my fear and prepared me to understand the natural causes of childbirth.”
Sona’s friends were very open-minded on how their labor should have looked like. Being by their side, Sona had seen the strengths of a body that is about to get a life to a new person. That’s why it wasn’t anything strange about the idea of home birth when Sona was pregnant. Of course, she was the one who had started the discussion at home on how we are going to prepare ourselves for what is coming…
“Firstly I was getting ready just myself, but later as my pregnancy was continuing, I had a feeling I have to involve my partner. I had searched possibilities in Finland as I also wanted some other “authority” to speak with my husband. I found HypnoBirthing preparation lessons, which seemed exactly like my thing. I told my husband, Kalevi, that this is the preparation I would like to take part in. He just agreed because he is a reasonable man. (laughing) He let us be led by my intuition. It was an extremely enriching experience because Kalevi came through the process with me. He had obtained information on how he could be supportive. We, together, believed that to have physiological and uninterrupted labor is possible.”
Sona had known from the beginning that she would like to have a doula with her during the labor. Naturally, she chose her friend – a doula from the Czech Republic. Their plan was simple. Sona and Kalevi took preparation classes on HypnoBirthing. They also had extra support from Sona’s friend. It was agreed that the doula would have come to Finland only 4 days before the planned date of childbirth. But you can’t make plans with nature. Sona’s daughter was born in the morning. The very same day, but in the evening her doula came from the Czech Republic.
“But it was, as it had supposed to be. My doula was a great support during the whole process even on the phone. Because of her preparation and my trust in the whole process, I haven’t had any fear of immersing myself in the whole labor process and being on my own. I was truly enjoying it. Most of the time I spent in the water, whether under the shower or taking a bath.”
Kalevi was a backup serviceman for his wife. He warmed the sauna and prepared for Sona a bath. He packed all her stuff for the hospital and made pizza.
“When my pushing (fetal ejection) reflex had started I asked him to call an ambulance. When the paramedics came, I was already in the process of my labor, but I was capable of directing orders… I told them to let me finish my child’s birth at home and after that, I am ready to come to the hospital. What was great, that at the same time as we were calling the ambulance, we also called my husband’s sister. She was something like my backup doula and support, who had experience with labor.”
The most difficult part of Sona’s first child birthing was the “coronation of the child”. It is when the kid’s head is on perineum: “What was happening was that the child was moving a little bit forward and backwards. I was a bit surprised by the intensity of the cutting and I was at this point ruled by a fear that the child would have ripped me off. And at this particular point, the door opened, Aino came in as an angel.”
Sona was in the bathtub. Her sister-in-law kneeled, hugged her and with Sona in her arms the child was born: “It is still today a very emotional experience for me… I was in such euphoria, that I came out of the bathtub with my daughter in my arms and somehow entered the ambulance. I was just wrapped into my bathing robe and in the hospital, I only gave birth to the placenta.”
After such an experience, it felt natural for Sona to think about home childbirth also during the following pregnancy. But, it is still a luxury to birth to a child at home. If somebody wants the service of an experienced professional as a midwife specialized in-home child labor, it is indeed very expensive.
“There was one moment when my husband hesitated and he was like: you already have the experience with labor, our financial situation is not ideal, maybe you can go to hospital… I remember it till today how I fell down crying and I was not capable of stopping the reaction of my body… And it wasn’t like I couldn’t imagine going to the hospital. I was ready to go if the midwife says it’s not looking good and we should better go. But it wasn’t acceptable for me, that the only reason that I could not have the chance to have the same experience was because of the money.”
Sona had an attitude, that even if she has to pay the money for the rest of her life, it’s worth it. She adds: “It is a very expensive service, but I don’t regret any cent we had paid to our amazing midwives Johanna and Anu!”
As a doula, Sona is part of The Nest Doulas. This collective formulates some ideas on how to improve the system and legislation in Finland:
“I believe, doula services should be refundable by Kela. Doulas might be that missing care that connects Neuvola, hospital and postpartum care. Pregnant people on their journey towards holding a baby in their arms meet several care providers and often non of them even twice. The chosen doula, which provides care, support, information is with the pregnant person actively from pregnancy, through the birth to early postpartum.”
“Home births should be also supported by Kela similarly as childbirths in hospitals. We have different research findings, that home birth especially when it comes to a person who already has children, is the best possible way with the least complications. Believe me, I am not a headless propagandist of home childbirth, but the support for professionally led home childbirth should be equal with the childbirth in hospitals.”
According to Sona, midwives should be trained to help women during the childbirth process in the home environment. The Nest Doulas also support the establishment of childbirth homes.
“I wish that as many women as possible would perceive the child birthing process as a wonderful and empowering experience. Even C-section can be done in a gentle, respectful and family-oriented manner.”
Sona has a feeling that having a doula in the hospital is welcomed by childbirth caregivers in Finland.
“If I work as a doula in my home country, I would probably have to be more radical and challenge the authorities. In Slovakia, they use outdated methods that conflict with WHO guidelines. In Finland, the WHO guidelines are being followed, and from my experience, midwives are mostly kind and respectful. As a doula, I more likely know the couple better and I know their preferences. But at the end, we are all present with the one and only aim: to assist and to serve the pregnant person during the child birthing process with kindness and respect the best way we can.”
Interested in knowing more about doula’s services? Sona will speak about it in the second part of the interview, which will be hopefully uploaded on the web page soon 🙂
Who is Sona Jany – Louhivuori?
Sona was born in Slovakia and moved to Finland 11 years ago because of love. This love created two children which were peacefully born at home here in Finland.
Soňa is a Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner, Childbirth Educator, Birth Doula providing pregnancy and postpartum massages and other services like v-steaming, belly binding etc. More about her services can be found on: www.feelyourbirth.com
Sona is the core member of “The Nest Doulas” – Helsinki International Doulas+ Collective: www.doulacollective.fi