Debby Gould B Nursing (QUT), GradDipMidwif(ACU)
The first birth Debby Gould attended as a midwifery student was a profound experience. She was given the opportunity to support and be continually present for a young couple having an undisturbed, empowering vaginal birth. She saw the gifts their birth gave them as new parents - they felt confident and capable, with such love for each other and trust in themselves. Debby knew so many women were being robbed of these gifts, regardless of whether they were birthing vaginally or not. She also compared the experience of this couple to patients she had seen while nursing (having surgical care, in aged care, palliative care and high-dependency care). She had observed then, that being unwell was more distressing for those who felt confused or powerless than for patients who could ask questions and felt supported and included in their own care.
Shortly before she graduated as a midwife, Debby witnessed firsthand the impact of her sister-in-law Melissa’s traumatic birth on her family. This, alongside her own experiences, further fired Debby’s unique ideas and understanding. She sought to observe and talk to more women to make further sense of the emotional and physical impact of good and bad birth.
Her determination to provide optimal support and appropriate education for birthing women in the community culminated in the formation of Birthtalk, where a new framework was created for women to utilize to understand birth. She has driven Birthtalk’s philosophy tirelessly ever since.
Debby’s own births and postnatal periods presented many challenges, being neither straightforward nor ‘easy’ births. They were however, ultimately positive, empowering experiences which affirmed her understanding of birth. Her experiences of pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period gave her further insights that have guided her when supporting others, and in directing Birthtalk’s philosophy.
Alongside her work as a midwife she has held positions on Mater Mothers Hospitals’ clinical governance advisory group (maternity policy committee), Royal Brisbane and Womens Hospital’s Health Community Council. Along with Melissa, she has co-written submissions to the Queensland and Australian Government maternity services reviews. She has given input and feedback to Brisbane hospitals and universities on the development of their new services, programs and consumer information. She also held a management committee position as Education Liaison Officer for the Childbirth Education Association.
Speaking on the topic of ‘Understanding Birth Trauma and Supporting Impacted Women’, Debby has guest lectured to Bachelor of Midwifery students at Griffith University and the University of Queensland, and given presentations for The Australian Doula College and Australian Breastfeeding Association counsellor conferences She provides Professional Development workshops for hospital midwives and doulas on the topic of Birth Trauma and how to support women to heal and have better births.
Debby has presented at the Australian College of Midwives Queensland State Conference, and sat on panels of experts alongside doctors, midwives and other birth workers at various screenings of birth documentaries. She has been invited to talk about “Healing from Birth Trauma” at the Red Tent Festival and meetings of various community organizations including the Australian Breastfeeding Association, Maternity Coalition’s ‘Bellies and Babies’ support groups, Bottle Bubs and Friends of the Birth Centre.
Debby spearheaded Birthtalk’s one-day seminar, “Moving On From a Challenging Birth” in 2006, and has appeared on radio, in national news articles, and popular parenting magazines, offering an expert’s voice to the issue of traumatic birth, and is published in a number of birth-related journals, sharing her insights and experiences. She co-writes articles for Birthtalk’s popular blog, “The Truth About Traumatic Birth” with Melissa.
Debby is the National Phone Support Contact for the Caesarean Awareness Network Australia (CANA), an organization she co-founded in 2006. She currently works as a Private Birth Consultant, Childbirth Educator, and Doula, and runs her own private consultancy, where she offers individualised support for women and men after a traumatic birth, or for those working towards an empowering birth.
Debby believes that understanding birth trauma is crucial in the current birthing climate, for affected women and families, and also for birth workers. She knows and has witnessed that it is possible to make sense, make peace and move on after a traumatic birth, and is inspired daily by the courage of the women she supports.
Debby lives in Brisbane with her husband and two daughters.