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The love of theatre brought Amber Tapley away from her Northern New Brunswick hometown to Bishop’s University in Quebec. A “beautiful accident” is what brought her down the path of babies and plants after Tapley moved to Cape Breton from Halifax (where she moved after leaving university) for a six-month theatre contract at the Savoy Theatre in 2010.
“When my son was three or four… I ran into a friend who was pregnant and she asked me to be her doula,” said Tapley, a mother of two originally from Plaster Rock. “I said, “Oh, I’m not a doula. And she said, “But you’d be a great one.”
Tapley agreed to be her friend’s doula and coached her through the birth (pre, during and post), an experience that sparked a special flame in Tapley. Four months later she was taking the doula course from Bebo Mia in Toronto, opting for their online training so she could stay in Cape Breton where she was studying massage therapy at Island Career Academy.
After her the birth of her first child, Tapley’s interest in traditional botanical medicine started to grow. She had studied it while in Halifax, but after becoming a mother she embarked in further studies just as she continued her doula education.
“I think half of my bookshelf is texts about plants and the other is about babies,” she said. “Most of the world (the first medicines they turn to) is botanical… They’re used for a cold, flu, fever and generally the results are the same (as pharmaceutical ones). It’s also very powerful knowing you can make medicine from something you grew.”
Under the moniker Amber Dawn Holistic Wellness, she now sells her services as a massage therapist, folk medicine educator and doula. She’s held workshops for those wanting to learn about infant sleep, pre-natal care and doula information services. And she’s held 10-month training for people wanting to learn about ancient traditional medicines, as well as plant walks that teach people how to recognize the plants that heal.
Happy World Breastfeeding Week! I have been so blessed to have been able to feed my babies this way. Between the two of them, it has been over 5 years of nursing! There are so many benefits to breastfeeding! The primary one for me though, has been the ease with which I have survived night wakings. I have always tried to be a responsive and nurturing parent for my babies and that has included supporting them through their nighttime needs. As a solo parent, this has the potential to be exhausting!!! (And it certainly has had its moments) Being able to easily offer milk and snuggles, from the comfort of my own bed really helped me to take care of my needs and theirs! My hat is off to every person who has birthed,nursed, attempted to nurse, weaned, pumped, bottle fed their baby! You are all superheroes! Photo credit to @edgewoodstudio
“At the end of the day, I have become the person I am and created the work I have because of a constant desire to create connections; between people, the environment and within one’s body and soul,” she said.
“All of the work I have even done has that common thread of creating a genuine, raw and authentic connection with people; acting, teaching, doula-ing and even massage therapy. I believe this life is precious and that embodying our truths and passions is essential.”
There is a part of Tapley that wants to go back to university to become a mid-wife. But then the thought of student dept and moving holds her back.
In Canada, midwives must complete a four-year bachelor’s degree in midwifery which is offered at seven universities in Canada; none of which are in Atlantic Canada. While the draw of continued study lingers, Tapley continues to build her business (Amber Dawn Holistic) working with clients like Rochelle Simmons, a soon-to-be mom who is 36 weeks pregnant with her first child.
Simmons took one of Tapley’s pre-natal courses, where she learned what a doula does as a birthing coach. This made her want to hire Tapley, whom she feels she has a deep connection with, and her mother paid for the doula services as a baby shower gift.
“(As a doula) she advocates for the moms…I like how the doula is with you through the whole (birthing process). I know she’s going to help me make the right decisions (during the birth,)” she said.
“Amber is a good educator and I feel more comfortable knowing she’s going to be (in the birthing room) with me and my husband. I think together we make a good team… I’m not even nervous. I was before, but not now, knowing I’ve got her there.”
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