IWM: Mira Heitz

We spoke with Mira Heitz, early childhood educator, co-owner of West End Naturopathic Doulas and co-founder of The Bump to Baby Show. We found out where to find everything you need for a clean + green pregnancy, why they’re not accepting corporate sponsorship for their event, and why you’ll want to have another women with you while you deliver your baby. 

How is your show different then other shows?

We are the only baby show devoted to 100% clean family living. Other baby shows may have a section devoted to “green” businesses, but at our show, that is all you are going to get! Our goal is to educate families and to inspire families to go natural.  We will be a running a Q & A series throughout the day with amazing experts such as dentists, naturopaths, midwives, educators, and more. We will also have areas devoted to young children so they can explore the sounds of music and textures of art. All this mixed in with local healthy food options. It will be a fun outing for the whole family. We can’t wait! (Neither can we! Find the dates for the 2016 show here)

Since space is limited in your venue, how did you select which vendors and presenters would be the best fit for your show?

We have so many amazing local businesses working to provide healthy choices to our communities. We are determined to have vendors that are organic, health conscious and toxin-free and that are dedicated to the natural health community. Many of our vendors are also parents with young children who understand the importance of raising their families in healthy environments. We have also chosen to have our show at the beautiful Wychwood Barns which is filled with natural light and is surrounded by a wonderful outdoor space. This is a departure from other shows held in convention centers.

Is it all pregnant women attending your show?

No! Not at all! The show is for those that are thinking of having a family, are expecting a baby/babies or are raising a family. It’s also great for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or friends that want to pick up a few items for their loved ones or learn a few things for the little ones in their lives.

Why free admission?

We want to make the Bump to Baby show accessible to anybody that wants to come. Being mothers ourselves we understand the financial demands of having young children. We really don’t want people to be limited by an admission fee.

Why don’t you have corporate sponsorship?

It was important to us that our sponsors align with our beliefs of supporting natural, sustainable, local, organic choices for families. It’s not to say a large corporation does not have these ideals, but at this point our sponsors are local and independent businesses themselves.

It seems everyone has an opinion about what is best for your pregnancy and parenthood. How does someone know who to trust?

You’re right, the baby industry is very overwhelming and it’s hard to know who to trust. This is one of the reasons we wanted to organize a show like this. Our goal is to bring together honest and passionate people who can share their knowledge and experience to the community. We love that most of our vendors are parents and understand those struggling early days. It makes them relateable. Between Rachel and myself, we have the expertise in natural health and in early childhood development. Rachel is a naturopathic doctor and birth doula with over ten years of experience and I have been an early childhood educator for over 15 years. We have also raised our 5 children together since they were born. We know first hand how much excess there is in the baby market, and are really trying to focus on the things that are essential. Not the crap.

Is a doula for everyone?

Yes! Everyone needs a doula. If we look at history, it was women that supported other women in labour. Lots of cultures around the world still do this. In our society, we have moved away from this practice and doulas are filling this gap. There is a great Cochrane study showing that having a knowledgeable person at your birth (ie. doula) will improve birth outcomes. The study shows that women who received continuous labour support were more likely to; give birth without C-section, vacuum or forceps, were less likely to use pain medications, were more likely to be satisfied with their labour, and had slightly shorter labours. Actually, no adverse effects were identified in this study. The conclusion of the study was that all women should have continuous support during labour, and we couldn’t agree more.

Did you have a doula at your births?

Of course! Rachel was at both of my births.  She was amazing and I seriously couldn’t have done it without her. Rachel had a good friend and naturopathic colleague at her 3 births. One of our good friends is a midwife, and was also at Rachel’s first delivery. So, really Rachel had 2 doulas present!

Why did you start the West End Naturopathic Doulas?

Rachel has been a birth doula for 12 years and a naturopathic doctor for 10. We have been friends since we were teenagers. We also have 5 children all close in age. Rachel and I talk about parenting all the time, we noticed their was a gap in services to help new families. We decided to start a collective that supports expecting families or individuals during what can be a difficult and confusing time. We both had doulas at our births and know first-hand how valuable this service is. We also both struggled with our first babies. Both our boys were jaundiced and were slow to gain weight. It was a scary time and resources were limited. Statistically C-sections are on the rise, many women are having a difficult time breastfeeding, and post-partum depression is increasing. We started WEND to show women that birth matters, that each woman has the ability to birth her baby without fear, and to help people make informed decisions. We really believe all well supported women can have beautiful births. Birth is such a magical and life altering experience, it doesn’t always work out the way you want, but having good labour support will be the rock by your side.

Do the West End Doulas only offer support during birth, or throughout pregnancy as well?

We do it all! Our birth doulas support families during pregnancy and do one post partum  home visit after delivery. We also have an amazing postpartum doula, Tannis Bundi who has been an RMT for 15 years, and is in love with all things baby. She helps to nourish and support new moms, their partners and siblings. She is fantastic.

As a parent yourself, who did you/do you turn to for guidance?

Our mothers, our community, our friends, books and sometimes we resort to wine! We also believe when you become a mother, you develop an intuition. A “mother’s intuition”. It’s really important to trust yourself.

For more information, like The Bump To Baby Show on Facebook and visit westenddoulas.com. Tweet with Mira @westenddoulas, like WEND on Facebook, and follow on Instagram too.