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Balancing dual roles as a GC and birth doula

In addition to serving as a general counsel, Nina Stamell practises as a birth doula. Here, she emphasises the transformative insights she has gained and the delicate balance maintained between her legal duties and her dedication to maternal care.

user iconGrace Robbie 11 June 2024 Big Law
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Speaking on a recent episode of The Corporate Counsel Show, Nina Stamell, the general counsel and company secretary for Myhealth, shared insights into her meaningful work supporting expecting mothers as a birth doula. She underscored the significance of legal professionals engaging in such purposeful endeavours and elucidated how she effectively manages her schedule to fulfil her responsibilities as a general counsel and doula.

Stamell explained her role as a birthing doula and how she provides personalised guidance and assistance to women based on their individual needs and circumstances.

“It’s a support role for women and their partners in birth labour and the postpartum journey,” she said.


“It can come in various different forms. You have either a birth doula or a postpartum doula, and it’s really an emotional support role and also a physical role. So it’s assisting people in preparing for the physicality of labour and supporting them during that process.”

Stamell highlighted the increasing recognition and acceptance of doulas within the health industry in Australia, noting that while their role may not be as widespread as that of other health professionals, it is steadily gaining prominence.

“I don’t think they’re very commonplace, but they’re certainly more spoken about than they have been.

“It’s not as commonplace as your obstetricians, your midwives, but there is a lot more attention on it, and it’s also, as far as I’ve observed personally anyway, there’s a lot more openness to the role that a doula can offer alongside your clinical caregivers,” she said.

Although initially unfamiliar with the concept, Stamell revealed that her interest in doula work was spearheaded by the transformative support she received during her first pregnancy, sparking an appreciation for the invaluable role doulas play in providing holistic care.

“I came to be interested in that work because I had a birth doula for my first birth. I had no idea what a doula was when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2019. But a friend was speaking to me about this role of a doula and how they can offer you support after birthday, and it sounded very interesting to me.

“Going through pregnancy for the first time and there being a lot of unknowns, it sounded very interesting to me. And when I met up with a lady that I came across, I just found the information that she provided very, very helpful and very different to the information that I was accessing through the clinical caregivers that I was connecting with,” she said.

Reflecting on her doula experience, Stamell found herself deeply moved and passionate to address systemic gaps in maternity care. This commitment is rooted in her desire to provide women and their partners with crucial information and support often overlooked within clinical settings.

“My experience in having a doula was amazing, and I just thought it was such a wonderful support, and I thought, god, if I didn’t have that, it would have been so much more difficult.

“I became really passionate about it because I did observe that there were various gaps in the maternity care system, and I really wanted to do whatever I could to try and help women and their partners get more of that information that, as far as I could tell, wasn’t being handed to them unless you actually went out and looked for it yourself,” she said.

Stamell stressed the significance of maintaining realistic expectations and fostering open conversations with her team while navigating the demands of her roles as a doula and a general counsel lawyer.

“It’s being realistic about how much I can actually take on. And then it’s also been about being very open with my team and my employer and letting them know when somebody is approaching their due date.

“The fact that, look, I might be called now at any point because I’m now on call and that may mean that I will be out of the office on a work day,” she said.

Given the unpredictable nature of doula work and the necessity for flexibility, Stamell highlighted the importance of effective communication in facilitating seamless coordination and maximising team effectiveness.

“It was really just about that open communication planning with my team around what was happening at the time.

“It does take a lot of time out, obviously, for the actual labour, but it was just planning, preparing, communicating openly with my team so that I had steps in place,” she said.