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Aisha Ralph:
M i d w i f e I n T h e M a k i n g
“I left Antigua really because I
wanted a change.”
Winds of Change especially for hospital births. Technically, any-
“I knew something had to give, almost im- one who provides that support has assumed
mediately after moving up here,” she says. the doula role. She might help with dishes
“One of the biggest benefits of coming here and laundry, or she might help mom with
It is not surprising that to many late 20-
is that not having family, close friends and all breastfeeding, as that’s not always a straight-
somethings and persons in their early 30s,
the other comforts of home forces you to re- forward process. She might help take care of
the need for change begins to beckon.
ally focus on the things that are left. For me, other children so mom gets some time to rest
Whether it was a change of scenery, job…
that was work. It was then that I realised how or just be one-on-one with baby.
something had to change. While some may
much I hated auditing and how unfulfilled I
be too afraid to take the risk of creating the
was.” That started her soul searching for a ca-
Ralph has been a practicing doula for a
change, others, like Aisha Ralph, followed
reer that would satisfy the need for spiritual
year and two months. In our conversation,
the dictum of the famous Latin quote and
as well as financial fulfillment. “Honestly, I
she relayed her most memorable experience.
seized the day.
never considered the importance of doing
“It was for a friend and coworker, and she put
so much faith and trust in me that it was at
Those of you familiar with the name will
something I loved or got anything other than
once a lot of pressure and encouraging at the
recall she was Antigua’s one-time representa-
financial gain from,” she says.
same time,” she says. “What made it most
tive to the Miss Universe competition. Oth-
To those who have heard about her plans memorable was that she really wanted to have
ers know her as a PriceWaterhouseCoopers
and her year-and-a-half long practice stints as a natural birth, but didn’t believe she could
auditor. How then does her name coincide
a doula, the change came as quite a surprise. do it. Her first birth was with interventions,
with midwifery, you might wonder.
Ralph says she’s been interested in women’s so there was a lot of fear and anxiety. It was
Business Focus caught up with Ralph, who
health as far back as she can remember, es- a tough labour and she was really doubting
has been residing in Bermuda for almost five
pecially from the natural, holistic health per- herself and saying she couldn’t do it. I was
spective. She’s also held a special love for ba- able to calm her, keep her focussed through a
Bermuda and the Bermudians
bies and birth. As a teenager, all advice and few more contractions. It turned out that by
Just at the time when she was seeking a dif-
career guidance resources pointed to obstet- then she was fully dilated and ready to birth.
ferent environment, as if by fate, PriceWater-
rics, a path she knew she wouldn’t be able to Within 15 minutes, her son was born. The
houseCoopers Bermuda, for the first time in
follow because it led primarily to a Western first thing she said to me was, ‘I did it! And I
the Caribbean, advertised vacancies, choosing
glorified model. Even then, she knew that didn’t need an epidural’.
Antigua as one of the islands to advertise. The
for normal birth, the majority of births, the
rest is history. In October 2003, she left An-
Western medical model was not necessarily
Ralph is just beginning her journey towards
tigua, and has been in Bermuda ever since.
the one to rely on.
becoming a midwife, after years as an auditor.
When we spoke she was on her way to Egypt,
Ralph says of her adopted home, “There are
A conversation with an African friend to a place where modern medicine got its
similarities.” By this she refers to the “typical”
sparked her memory of youthful dreams of start, and where she believes the ancient tradi-
small island atmosphere, with all the nuances
wanting to be a midwife. From the moment tions paint a clearer picture of how healthcare
of a small community, but in a way more pro-
the thought occurred, she knew there had to should be. As she continues her journey, we
nounced, with Bermuda being smaller than
be some follow through. “I hadn’t thought of hope to be able to follow her progress.
Antigua. These notwithstanding, Bermuda
midwifery before, and I was surprised I even
is at the same time quite different, in that it
knew what it was, because I wasn’t conscious
In closing, we leave you with one of her
is a great deal more developed. International
of knowing what a midwife was,” she con-
thoughts: “Western medicine’s place where
business is big in Bermuda, and has managed
birth is concerned is in the realm of emergen-
to attract global industry leaders in insurance,
cies. If something goes wrong, that’s when
and reinsurance in particular. Bermuda also
It was her research into the different routes Western medicine can really shine. But for
has one of the highest GDP’s in the world.
to becoming one that made Ralph aware of most births, the Western medical practice
related professions. This is how she found of interfering with the natural process to me
The Bermudians for the most part are very
out about birth and post partum doulas. A does more harm than good.”
polite - “polite to a fault” says Ralph. It’s a
doula fulfills a variety of roles. In pregnancy,
very strong part of the culture, which can be
she provides information to the mom to help Marcella A André
misleading, because the politeness is often-
her make informed decisions. In labour, one
times mistaken for friendliness.
of her key roles is to be the mother’s advocate,
34 | BusinessFocus • August/September 2008
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