About Four Trimesters
The vision of Four Trimesters is to improve maternity care for women in Singapore and around the world. We help parents access and understand the most current and important information regarding labor, delivery, and caring for a newborn so they can confidently make informed decisions. It’s about parents looking back on the birth of their babies, with a sense of satisfaction, feeling that they had the best birth experience for them no matter the path it takes. We promote mother-baby bonding postpartum and we encourage parents to strengthen their relationship to handle the stressors of parenthood more easily. After all, the birth of a baby also marks the birth of a mother and a father.
The doulas at Four Trimesters nurture the continuum from conception to parenting. During pregnancy, we assist you in finding information to support the kind of birth that you want and help you work towards that experience. During labor, we support you in each and every one of your choices. Our doulas doula from the heart, supporting mothers eye-to-eye, breath-to-breath, heart-to-heart, serving and supporting mothers and their families through this magical time. During the early postpartum period, your team of doulas will be there to support your transition into parenthood.
History of Four Trimesters
2002: Four Trimesters was founded by Dr. Amy Chin-Atkins and a group of newly certified doulas who wanted to start working as a doula after taking their doula training.
2003: Ginny Phang joined and took over when Dr. Amy Chin-Atkins had to relocate because of work. Four Trimesters offered Active Birth antenatal classes taught at Oasis Yoga Studio and offered birth doula services. Four Trimesters also had a monthly support group that Ginny operated out of her 3-room HDB flat home office on weekends while she worked full time as a secretary.
2005: From taking on one client every 2-3 months when she started, the demand for doula services increased and Ginny left her full time job to pursue her passion for working as a doula full time. She trained as a HypnoBirthing practitioner and HypnoBirthing Trainer and started teaching HypnoBirthing classes as well as educating the hospitals in Singapore about HypnoBirthing.
2006: Four Trimesters helped bring about the first waterbirth at both National University Hospital and Mount Alvernia Hospital as well as homebirthing with Dr. Lai Fon-Min. Four Trimesters also moved to Holland Village. Ginny went to the USA to certify as a DONA Birth Doula Trainer. By this time, Ginny was attending about 3-5 births a month, making up for lost time by gaining as much experience as she could.
2007: Ginny was selected as a nominee under the Women’s Weekly Woman of the Year award for her work in promoting a better birth experience for women and their families. By this time, working as a doula was a full time job operating at maximum capacity teaching classes on the weekends and attending births. Ginny committed herself to a journey of personal development and went on to study NLP and Hypnotherapy.
2010: Ginny was awarded the DONA Fellowship and went to the USA to train as a Postpartum Doula Trainer. As she was traveling around South East Asia to promote HypnoBirthing and a better birth experience, she started offering DONA Birth Doula Training and trained the first batch of DONA Birth Doulas in Singapore. This was when the Four Trimesters team was born. She also became the National Coordinator for Singapore’s Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) for 2.5 years where she was in-charged of developing the local BFHI policies and working with the three local restructured hospitals to work towards BFHI accreditation.
2014: As part of Ginny’s interest in personal development, working with couples and relationships, Ginny trained as a John Gottman “Bringing Baby Home” educator. After her first successful “Bringing Baby Home” workshop, which was a very heart-felt and impactful experience for both herself and the participants, Ginny decided to add this workshop as part of the core services that Four Trimesters offers.
2015: Ginny was chosen to be one of the six approved Spinning Babies Trainers in the world and she has incorporated Spinning Babies into the Four Trimesters Antenatal Group Class curriculum. This information is helping her to shape and revolutionize the paradigm of birthing, one birth at a time.
After 12 years of working as a doula and running Four Trimesters, Ginny has also decided to take two steps forward towards her vision of improving maternity care in Singapore and her dream of opening Singapore’s first birth centre. Apart from running, developing and expanding Four Trimesters, she has decided to focus on training women to become Birth and Postpartum Doulas and create a wider outreach by forming the Four Trimesters Birth Ambassador Doula Network where she can share her experience of being a doula, running a doula business and mentoring with a wider network of doulas globally, both new and experienced, to guide and mentor them through their journey of becoming a doula. She has also embarked on collaborating with Dr. Lai Fon-Min as the Business Development Manager for A Company For Women to build the practice and recruit and train more OBGYNs to support holistic birthing for women and their families.
Founder – Dr. Amy Chin-Atkins
Dr. Amy Chin-Atkins is the founder of Four Trimesters. She left Singapore in 2003 and is currently based in Canberra, Australia with her lovely husband and four children.
Formerly a research scientist in molecular biology, she found her calling and followed her passion by becoming a breastfeeding counsellor, HypnoBirthing instructor, childbirth educator and birth doula.
Her own birth experiences led her to become a doula and she had an unassisted birth at home for the birth of her third and fourth children with her family witnessing the births.
Amy revolutionized doula care for local women in Singapore as the first Asian doula, empowering women to have a wonderful and positive birth and breastfeeding experience..
“The birth of a baby is also the birth of a mother and a father (over and over again with each birth), and I love facilitating the journey of these parents as the human spirit unfolds and blossoms through pregnancy, birth and the fourth trimester.”
Ginny Phang has been a doula since 2003 and has supported over 800 births. She has taught countless antenatal classes to over 1,000 couples, both in Singapore and the Southeast Asia region. Her extensive experience as a doula includes working with:
- Vaginal births (drug-free, hypnobirthing and with pain-relief)
- VBAC & VBA2C
- Vaginal breech births
- Vaginal twin births
- First-time multiple births
- Water births
- Home births
- International clients from Malaysia to Malawi
Since she began her classes in Singapore in July 2005, more than 75% of her clients have had drug-free births and have learned to breastfeed successfully. Ginny believes in enriching a woman’s childbirth experience, supporting couples by empowering them to make informed choices, and helping them to achieve the best possible birth experience.
I only want to open the way to insight, acting as its midwife: it is up to every person to give birth. – Deepak Chopra
She was trained under birth legends such as Marie Mongan, founder of the HypnoBirthing® Institute, and Penny Simkin, founder of Doulas of North America (DONA) and author of several childbirth books. Ginny is a trainer with both the HypnoBirthing® Institute as well as DONA in the United States. She is also certified as a Spinning Babies Instructor, HypnoFertility Therapist, HypnoBirthing® Practitioner, Advanced Hypnotherapist, Master Neurostrategist, and is a Breastfeeding Consultant and Childbirth Educator. She is a Gottman’s “Bringing Baby Home” educator and energy worker. Most recently, she became one of only six Spinning Babies trainers in the world and is teaching this material internationally. She also attends birth and breastfeeding conferences at least once a year to stay updated with best practices and evidence-based care.
Experience and Accolades
In 2006, she facilitated the first waterbirths in Singapore. Various hospitals and organizations have invited Ginny to give talks and workshops based on her expertise. In 2007, she was invited by the Singapore International Congress of Obstetrics & Gynecology to speak about the role of doulas for expectant parents, working together as a team, and waterbirthing. She is also a regular speaker for prenatal yoga teacher training certification courses.
From 2011 to mid-2013, she took on the role of the National Coordinator for the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative where she was instrumental in working with the national committee, hospitals and community in facilitating hospitals to move towards WHO Baby Friendly accreditation. She currently works in conjunction with Dr. Lai Fon-Min at A Company For Women to improve the options for women giving birth in Singapore through providing real choices and compassionate care.
She was nominated for Women’s Weekly magazine’s “Woman of the Year Award” under the education section for recognition of her work as a doula. The media – from print to screen – has spotlighted Ginny and her services time and again. She has been featured in over a hundred publications, including dailies like The Straits Times and magazines like Today’s Parents, Singapore Women’s Weekly and Motherhood. In 2008, TIME magazine sought out a quote from Ginny in the article, The Labor Market. Ginny has been featured on Channel News Asia, the local media and online TV. She was featured for her journey to become a doula in the book The Art of Work, by Jeff Goins. Her most popular feature is her TEDx Singapore talk in Dec 2010.
The following is the autobiography of my journey as an unwed mother and a doula.
When I was 5 years old, I wanted to be both a dancer and a businesswoman. I was 10 years old when my neighbour told me that I had the potential to be a good radio Deejay and I believed her. At 13, I thought I would make a good counselor because friends seem to confide their problems to me. Never did I anticipate that there would come a day when I would be all of the above and even more. I simply am.
The first time I heard the word ‘doula’ was from a colleague. Her boyfriend’s sister was expecting her third child and planning to have a drug free birth with a doula. I had also wanted to have a drug-free birth, but I was dealing with too much in my life at that point in time that I did not fully explore that option.
I was pregnant at 23 years old. I chose to keep the pregnancy even though it meant becoming a single parent. I kicked myself out of the house to save my family from embarrassment because I was (and am still) not married. I had not completed my education. I was unsure of what I wanted to do in life, and I did not have a job. There was nothing logical about keeping the pregnancy; however, the decision felt completely right in my heart. With my thumping gut instinct, together with signs from the Universe, I made the decision to keep the pregnancy and entered the first crossroads of my life – a step into a new world.
Like a tourist traveling in this new world, the journey of being a single parent was unknown territory. Everything… and I mean E V E R Y T H I N G was new. Like the growing baby in my belly, nothing was constant. I literally lived moment by moment. Up until today, if I were to single out the hardest period of my life, it would still have been my pregnancy. My daily mantra was “It’s you and me against this world baby” as I cried myself to sleep, waiting for the next sunrise.
Finally, I went into labor starting with the mucus plug releasing. I was planning to have a drug-free labor and was hoping to have my dearest Aunty Grace as my birth companion. She herself had two drug free births and she is my ‘human angel.’ At the start of the pregnancy when I was sitting on the balcony deciding whether to ingest the pills to start the abortion process, Aunty Grace called and asked me to flush the pills down the toilet. She cried, “I don’t know how we are going to do, but we are going to do it together. We (the family) will help you in whatever ways that we can.” That was the sign I needed to find the courage within myself to keep the pregnancy. She has been my main pillar of love and support; when everyone wavered, her love was steadfast and unchanged.
I still remember laboring at my grandparents’ apartment overlooking the city at night. The surges were coming like waves. Scared, alone and lost, I decided to go to the hospital with my mother. The whole labor was a daze – all I remember was how weak and sick I was feeling throughout and I finally succumbed to the epidural. When it came time to push, the midwife undermined my ability to push. That infuriated me enough to get me pushing on my own. I would have given birth on my own if my mother had not called the midwife after panicking upon seeing “the black black thing” crowning. It was love as first sight as I held his tiny little hands. Through the moments of perpetual darkness from the pregnancy emerged the ray of light at the end of tunnel.
What had felt like the end of my life was ironically the beginning of all the good things to come. Kieran in Irish means ‘the little dark one’ however ‘Kiran’ in Indian means a ray of light – he epitomises the balance of yin and yang. He was the compass that led me to my life’s calling.
“The deeper your sorrow, the greater your joy.” – Kahlil Gibran
Many people seem to perceive that a ‘calling’ is a destination. Based on my own personal experience, your heart acts as a compass pointing out the direction in which to move. When you make a decision to open a door, what lies ahead are many other doors. Open another door, and again there are many other doors from which you can choose. There is no good or bad decision – only a decision with its own set of consequences.
The door that I chose to open led to a new world where I sought to find a new tribe. This tribe consisted of breastfeeding mothers. I remember the first time I saw a 2.5 year old toddler breastfeeding. I was appalled! “So old and STILL breastfeeding???!!!” Who would have known then that my own son would breastfeed to the age of 6.5 years old. The mother of that toddler – Dr. Amy Chin-Atkins – became one of my good friends. She helped me produce Singapore’s first Breastfeeding Calendar for three consecutive years. She was the first Asian expat doula in Singapore and all she did was believe in me by saying “Ginny, I think you would make a good doula. And even if you don’t decide to become a doula, whatever you will learn will aid in your personal development.” That was all it took and I was sold on becoming a doula.
I still remember the night when Amy and I were brainstorming over the name of the new doula company that she was going start. The next day she called and said, “What do you think of the name Four Trimesters?” Just perfect, I said. Like a perfect newborn, Four Trimesters was born.
It wasn’t long before Amy and her family had to relocate, so the ‘renegade’ doulas and I took over Four Trimesters. I was taking on a client once every 2-3 months while balancing a full time job.
By then, I had become the ‘face’ of unwed single mothers. My family used to lie that my ‘husband’ was overseas and even before I was ready, they decided to come clean with their friends that I was an unwed mom. Knowing that nothing will change unless there is public awareness (it’s been 13 years and the laws discriminating against unwed mothers in Singapore are unchanged), I consented to media interviews and documentaries that featured my life as an unwed mother to raise awareness of the plight of unwed mothers in Singapore.
Riding on the same media platform, I also raised awareness of the role of a doula. From one client once every 2-3 months, I was now averaging about 1-2 clients a month. It was becoming harder and harder to take urgent leave from work to handle my work as a doula. When a photo of my son and I was a half page feature in the national newspaper, I could no longer hide the truth from my employer and had to make a decision to stay with my current full time job or to take a leap of faith into the unknown. Once again, my heart knew where it was heading. Leap I did into the second crossroads of my life.
Having gone through a crossroads before, I should already have known the depth of the dark pit in front me. I didn’t know where I was going but I trusted my gut feeling that I was doing the right ting. I used my gut as my compass once again. Barely making ends meet, I struggled to stay afloat financially. While it was incredibly hard, I was fuelled by passion. It pulled me through, one birth at a time.
“Focus on the present and the future will take care of itself.” – Paulo Ceolho
I always thought I knew how I found my calling as a doula. I even had the privilege to doula my ex-colleague’s boyfriend’s sister for the water birth of her fourth child – the same woman who first indirectly introduced me to the concept of a doula! I spent years doing personal development, from attending Anthony Robbin’s Date with Destiny, studying Neuro Linguistic Programming and Advanced Hypnosis, Imago Relationships for Singles and Couples, actively participating in Family Constellations for many years, and years and years of self-studying books on relationships, psychology, neurology and spirituality and digging deep with spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle and Caroline Myss. I eventually came to the realization that on a very deep childhood level, my role as a doula allows me to keep women and their families ‘safe.’ Safety represented a deep childhood wounding as my dad died in an accident when I was a toddler, I was molested when I was still in kindergarten, and grew up in a very dysfunctional family. Being a doula gave me the opportunity to heal by protecting women and their families and give them something so basic and essential that I never received.
“We teach what we want to learn” – Gerald G. Jampolsky
I have come to a point where I realized that running a business takes you on a very spiritual journey that is parallel to your personal growth. I am very blessed to have found my life’s calling to do what I love. I truly love and enjoy all aspects of running a business and the many opportunities that arise along the way. I am looking forward to continuing to turn my dreams into realities. I have work to do to improve maternity care in Singapore and around the world, and in doing so, I am entering the third crossroads of my life – my soul’s calling to discover my relationship with God.
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” – Richard Branson
I didn’t choose love. Love chose me.
I am extremely blessed to be gifted as a ‘positive’ rebel, thriving in unexplored territories, redirecting and transforming negative energies into a force for good.
My philosophies for life and living are simple:
- “The Universe conspires with you to find it.” I truly believe that everything is possible and within your reach, if you are willing to do what it takes to get there. Harness the power of the written word – write down your dreams and with time, build the storyboard of your dreams.
- “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Let your heart be the compass and let your dreams be the light that guides you.
- “Focus on the present and the future will take care of itself”
- “Just Do It.” I just do what I can. If what I have left is 20%, then I strive to give you at least 80% of that 20%.
- “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Every one is a teacher; learn the lessons (quickly) so you can move on.
- “Empty me of me so that I can be filled with you. Let me be a channel of your Grace.” Above all, pray. Surrender it all up to God and let the divine intervene.
- The most important question of your life.
The media – from print to screen – has spotlighted Ginny and her services time and again. She has been featured in over a hundred publications, including dailies like The Straits Times and magazines like Today’s Parents, Singapore Women’s Weekly and Motherhood. In 2008, TIME magazine sought out a quote from Ginny in the article, The Labor Market. Ginny has also been featured on Channel News Asia, the local media and online TV. Her most popular feature is her TEDx Singapore talk in Dec 2010.
Having moved on in her life, Ginny no longer does any interviews on single parenting and about being an unwed mother. If you want to find out more about her journey as an unwed mother and a doula, you may find these media features helpful. Her last event for an unwed mom feature was a public talk for Food for Thought in 2013 where they featured the topic of how choosing the journey of being an unwed mother brought their families closer together. It was her then 12-year-old son’s first public appearance and he rocked the house.
Ginny has been featured in The Art of Work, by Jeff Goins.
Unwed Single Mother Features:
These are mainly Chinese documentaries with English subtitles.
First and Favourite Documentary Feature I have done for Channel U
Why Do You Care?
Interview with Single Moms
Doula Media Features:
Women Helping Women
Don’t Just Push
VBAC in Singapore
Mum’s the Word: The experience of giving birth for the first time was better than my wedding day
Breastfeeding Controversy in the Media
Is a Drug-Free Birth Possible?
Home Waterbirth in Singapore
I.S Magazine’s Cool Chicks Who Rock
The Asian Entrepreneur
Unwed Single Mother Media Features:
Here are two very popular blog posts that Ginny blogged about years ago:
So You Want To Be A Single Mom? Here Are 15 Things You Should Know
10 more things they don’t tell you about being a single mom
Readers Digest Flying Solo
Single parents and the financial struggle
ST Single Moms in the Press