My name is Marie-Louise Steyn and ‘Birth Power’ is the name I chose for my business because I was so empowered through my own experiences of birth, breastfeeding and mothering. The births of my own five children (of which the last four were natural homebirths) were such sacred mountain-top experiences in my life that I dreamed about helping other women have blissful, transformative births, too. I started realizing that dream when I trained as a doula with Village Doulas in 2008. I attended my first birth in March 2008 and have been privileged to witness more than a hundred births since. I mostly work with the wonderful midwives of Midwives Exclusive http://www.midwives-exclusive.com/ at their Active Birth Unit at Femina hospital, but I am no stranger to other hospitals in Pretoria. Homebirths have a special place in my heart because they are so intimate and personal. Of course, birth does not always go as planned, and I’ve seen my share of caesarean and instrument births, too.
I have been passionately involved with breastfeeding for more than fifteen years: at first as a breastfeeding mom, then a La Leche League Leader and breastfeeding counselor. In 2009 a long-held dream came true when I qualified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. I teach breastfeeding classes to expectant moms and other doulas and do breastfeeding consultations at home and in hospital.
I’ve always loved teaching and became involved in the antenatal classes at Stork’s Nest, Femina in 2008, where I still teach. In 2010 I trained as a Hypnobirthing facilitator, as I used a form of hypnosis for pain-relief at my last three births. Then I found what I have been searching for all along: the amazing Mama Bamba Way philosophy (developed by Robyn Sheldon, a midwife from Cape Town). I trained with Robyn as a Mama Bamba facilitator and feel so privileged to be bringing this life-changing philosophy of emotional and spiritual preparation for birth to Pretoria. To learn more about the Mama Bamba Way, see http://www.mamabamba.com/.
Creativity has always played a huge role in my life. I consider myself a ‘maternity photographer’: I photograph pregnant bellies, births, babies and growing children. Writing is another of my life-long love affairs. I have written three Afrikaans medical romances (under a pseudonym) and my breastfeeding book will be published in September in English and Afrikaans.
I consider supporting and empowering mothers, fathers and babies an honour and a sacred calling. Every birth – like every family – is different, and I am changed and enriched beyond measure each time I am invited to witness the miracle.