Kayla Akalu is a military spouse who decided to switch careers in her late 20s. She is now a certified doula. (Submitted photo)

Kayla Akalu: from esthetician to doula

By: Patricia Leboeuf

Posted on Thursday, October 12, 2017

Switching careers later in life isn’t for the faint-hearted, yet it is sometimes a necessity.

Before moving to Petawawa, Kayla Akalu had a successful career as an esthetician. Though she did continue working here, she realized that her heart was elsewhere. Deeply passionate about women’s issues, she felt as though she needed to redirect her energy.

It wasn’t until she found out about doulas and the work they do supporting pregnant women that she knew that she had found her new passion. “There is a new trend in birth that is trying to be more baby friendly and mother-friendly,” said Akalu. “I guess my passions just changed and I really felt that there was a bigger need for birth support,” she added.

It comes from a personal place as well. The birth of her first child was so traumatizing that she was absolutely petrified when she found herself pregnant with her second. She realized with extensive research, however, that she had a voice and choices.

Now she wants to help other women have a voice as well.

As a trained and certified doula, Akalu doesn’t replace a medical practitioner. Instead, she augments their care and is there to support the mother as well as the family through whatever they hope the birth experience will be. Whether that is giving birth at home naturally or at the hospital, ultimately she acts as an advocate, helping achieve her clients’ desires and needs.

As a military spouse and mother herself, she knows just how necessary her services are in the area. Many of her clients have family members living far away and may not have their partners with them due to deployments training. “Sometimes we are the only person there for our client,” said Akalu.

There is a big difference between personal and professional. As a birthing expert, the process does not faze Akalu whereas a friend, spouse or family member may be uncomfortable, or even panicked at times. “A doula cannot replace a loving partner,” she admits. “But we are here to help not just the emotional and physical support, but the informational support.”

She has countless resources on various subjects that she shares with parents so that they may make educated, informed and smart choices for their families.

Though it was a risk to leave her original career, it is not one she regrets. It has allowed her to experience her true passion to help people bring life into the world.

Akalu an independent contractor of the Renfrew County Doulas and offers her service all over the county as well as in Ottawa. “The great thing about working with an agency is that we can offer our services as a group,” she said. “So we do have post-partum doulas, we have childbirth education classes, lactation education and we are always trying to add more and more to our repertoire.”