The gentle sound of rain on cedars and waves lapping up onto beautiful beaches here on Bowen Island has, on occasion, been drowned out by the sound of children laughing (and crying). That’s because our little island has the highest number of children under-5, per-capita, in Canada.
“And within that under five age group, we have approximately 164 children under two years old,” says Alicia Hoppenrath. “And SO many pregnant women.”
Before pursuing a career as a Registered Massage Therapist, and having her baby (now 16 months old), Hoppenrath worked as a birth and postpartum doula in the city. One of her doula-colleagues from that time, Chloe Dierkes, also lives on Bowen now and is pregnant with her second child. The two have connected with roughly nine other women on the island who work in the field of pre-natal, birth and post-natal care in varying capacities, to form the Bowen Birth Collective.
“Essentially, with the variety of expertise we offer, we would like to be a cohesive support and resource network for families on the birth-journey. We also want to give people the option to stay on-island for many of the things, like pre-natal classes for example, that expecting families have traditionally had to travel to do,” says Hoppenrath. “We’re working alongside Family Place and Caring Circle, and we are very excited that now there is even a midwife, former islander Brynne Purcell, who will be coming to the island one day a month to hold a clinic here.”
Hoppenrath says that the Collective is made up of a variety of local health care professionals.
“We have RMT’s, a Naturopath, Acupuncturist, Yoga instructors, Breastfeeding counsellors, a Placenta Encapsulator, Childbirth Educators, a clinical Counsellor, and of course doulas!”
The Collective has been holding workshops they call their “Ask a doula” series, roughly every six weeks. One of the first, called “Roadmap to Birth,” discussed the logistics and birth options for women living on Bowen. There has been other talks on Acupressure for labour and birth, a film screening of “The Business of Being Born”, Prenatal Yoga and Meditation, and upcoming there will be talks on Nutrition, comfort measures for labour, baby wearing, introducing solids, and more!
The next event is will be held on Thursday October 19 at 6pm at the Bowen Island Massage Therapy in Artisan Square. The topic is,“The First Forty Days” and will be facilitated by Harmony Shire. Partners are encouraged to come and find out how to best care for the new mama and baby and their effect on the new mother. This workshop also features guest speaker Heidi Mathers for a nutrition component!
Keep an eye on Facebook for information on upcoming events, and for their new website, which is currently under constructions.
Members of the Bowen Birth Collective: Alicia Hoppenrath, Chloe Dierkes, Natasha Currah, Jasmine Cairo, Alea Bell, Courtney Morris, Crystal Di Domizio, Harmony Shire, Julie Marie, Chantal Russell, and Mary McDonagh.