Since it is World Doula week, I thought it was only apt to feature someone who has used a Doula 8 times! Debbie Calo lives in Durban and has had a home birth for each of her children. I have seen her in action at yoga and I never imagined she had 8 children, she is a yoga master and looks incredible!
What does healthy mean to you?
For me health begins in your head! You can eat well, exercise daily and take the best supplements but in the end if you are not happy then none of that matters. Being stressed or negative all the time does not support good health. Besides that my family and I are vegetarians and we treat anything from the common cold to meningitis homeopathically, and as a result our immune systems are pretty strong!
What is your chosen form of exercise?
YOGA!!! If my mat could talk! My practice keeps me sane! I started practicing 27 years ago as it is the only exercise other than walking that I would recommend conception and during pregnancy. I also find it very grounding not to mention humbling.
Every pose has a meaning for it either releases what no longer serves a purpose in my life or strengthens me for what is still to come! For me yoga is not only a physical exercise, you could go to the gym for that, it’s a spiritual, emotional and mental exercise. I always leave the studio with a great feeling of accomplishment. I practice mainly heated Vinyasa yoga so I get a good detox at the same time! I also try and get to sculpt classes twice a week. Sculpt is a combination of yoga and medium to high intensity workout with weights. It’s a lot of fun and you feel euphoric after burning up your yoga mat! I do both yoga and sculpt at Tree Natural.
What does your way of healthy eating look like?
We are all vegetarian at home and my children have all been raised as vegetarians. I have never been one to follow the latest trends in diets, I prefer to go with what I want to eat and I listen to my body. I always make healthy choices its just my way of honoring my body and good health. My motto is “Eat when you are hungry, eat clean and the more organic the better”.
What is your passion project?
Actually my latest passion project is yet to begin! It will be my yoga teacher training that I will begin early next year. Up until now it has been raising my eight children and I still have a way to go, I think one could definitely call that a ‘passion project!’.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Ok so I wake up with the birds which is pretty early! Morning is my best time of day. I love getting as much of it as possible. I go straight into fifth gear with cleaning up after my midnight snackers, packing school lunches, organising breakfasts, feeding the dog and then before waking up the troops I do a 20 minute mini workout in our gym at home, nothing hectic just a warm up for my day with some rowing, yoga stretches and a little dumbbell work.
Then it’s getting kids ready for school and doing the school drops. I walk my Rotti every morning on the beach, this is when I finally breath out! After that it’s a quick walk on the promenade (you can’t live in Umhlanga and not walk on the promenade at some point in your day!) then it’s my morning Yoga practice at 9am. Tree is my little sanctuary, it’s my ‘happy place’. After class I get to sit with friends and get my caffeine fix. By now I so have my ‘bliss’ on even the taxi drivers can’t get me going! Only now its back to the real world and the reality of having eight kids. To be fair though, one is in California and one is studying law at UCT so I only have six at home. Next it’s the grocery shopping, then the school pick ups and sport spectating, homework and then a lot of kitchen time preparing dinner.
What would you like people to know about you?
That just because I have had eight kids I do not profess to ‘know it all’. I am open minded and believe that no matter how old you are or how much ground you have covered in life there is always something you can learn from everyone you meet. I have been practicing yoga for 27 years but still I have so much to learn. Life is a journey and we can learn from a 5 year old just as we can from a 50 year old. It’s about being humble and always, always keeping the ego at bay. I chose to have my babies at home, not because I’m superwoman or have an above average threshold for pain, just because it felt ‘right’. I never put it out there simply because there was and still is such a stigma towards home birthing. I was considered primal and was cast out of the pack so to speak. Sadly women have never been educated or encouraged to trust their own bodies. If there was one thing I could be given the chance to do, it would be to endorse having your baby at home, the greatest gift you can give your child. That and beginning your childs education at home. I home schooled my kids during their formative years and it really payed off. As a result they all have a love for learning because they were gently and lovingly eased into schooling, they have a positive outlook to education.
So what do I want people to know about me? I believe in being authentic to myself. I never wanted to talk the talk, I needed to walk the walk and lead by example. Anyone can talk about it, you gotta do it! My children are the ‘fruits of my labour’. I certainly don’t know it all, but my message to all you beautiful ladies out there is ‘Trust your bodies, trust your instincts, turn up the volume of that little voice within you and drown out the fear!
Favourite workout song?
Anything by Sia
When thinking about life, remember this: no amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future.
Favourite quote: well I have a few so I had to narrow them down and just couldn’t stop at one!
“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed, it means the damage no longer controls our lives.”
“Face your past without regret, handle your present with confidence, prepare for the future without fear, keep faith, drop the fear. Don’t believe your doubts and never doubt your beliefs. Life is wonderful if you know how to live it!”
What was your experience with your doula?
I had a doula all eight times. The benefit of having a doula is that although you have the intimacy of your partner along with the expertise of the midwife, a doula brings about a calmness, she chases away your fears and empowers you with her words. My doulas were very gentle souls there was no judgement, no pressure, just reassurance that I could do this. I was perfectly able to bring this child into the world, I was designed for this, I was given the strength to do this and very soon I would be holding my beautiful baby in my arms. To me doulas are sent from heaven along with all the midwives that do home births. They should all be honored for the work that they do and the big hearts that they have.
Have you used a doula?