"Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength" (Barbara Katz Rothman)
Having had the privilege to be at many births, I am well aware that every labour is as unique and individual as the babies that are its gift. For many parents it will be approached with optimism and excitement, whilst others may feel anxiety, apprehension or sadly even fear. My philosophy is simple - regardless of their initial feelings, I hope that with the benefit of the antenatal preparation that we do together and my support throughout their birth, that each of my clients is able to reflect upon their birthing journey and feel that they have had the very best experience possible in whatever circumstance may have presented.
So what can I offer?
Initially, I would offer you a totally relaxed, non-obligatory meeting with yourself and your partner (if you have one) to ensure that we all felt our combined personalities would work well to meet your personal needs and help you both to approach the birth more relaxed and confident. If you felt I I was the right doula for you then we would schedule our antenatal sessions at a time in your pregnancy and a place of your choice. These are tailored to your personal needs. Getting to know you and your family during your pregnancy, I will try to learn what sort of birth you hope for and how we might best work together to create the optimum birthing environment. Throughout these sessions we will look at how fundamentally well designed women's body's are for birthing, but also looking at what factors may contribute to hindering the birthing process.
Armed with that knowledge, and confidence in your support team, hopefully you will be able to approach your birth with relaxed excitement. In practical terms, I can help you to compile a birth preference list should you wish to share one with your midwives. I can also assist you in finding information regarding any aspect or concern you may have about pregnancy or newborn care. Should breastfeeding be your chosen feeding method I am very happy to do a separate session covering the basics of breastfeeding and what makes it more likely to be successful.
But being your birth doula doesn't mean we just focus on the birth. You are preparing to become a mother (even if this is not for the first time). Birthing is just the beginning of the journey. Sadly women tell us time and time again how emotionally unsupported they feel by the present system of maternity care. If you decide to work with me, I would encourage you to communicate with me regularly throughout the remainder or your pregnancy (via email, phone or text) and will happily meet with you in person as many times as you feel necessary. I would love you to be able to share any concerns that you have; to help you access reliable sources for any information that you may seek; to help you process any choices or decisions that need to be reached and/or just to chat about how you are feeling. I am always happy to offer a safe space and a compassionate ear, with these conversations bringing us closer together and building on the familiarity that should serve us well on your baby's birthday, as well as into the postnatal period if you would like my support to continue.
And when the big day finally arrives, whilst working in harmonious partnership with the midwifery/medical team, I aim to facilitate a peaceful birthing environment, helping you to make the team aware of your wishes/preferences and offering continuous emotional and practical support to you and your partner (if present). This could cover anything from verbal encouragement and back massages for you to facilitating necessary brief breaks for exhausted partners to recharge.
Although not widely acknowledged, pregnancy and then labour can certainly be a daunting, emotional and draining time for partners. Although it is now common for fathers (or other parents) to be encouraged to attend their baby's birth, sadly the present system of maternity provision can often fail to support them or meet their own individual needs. In my experience this can be vital in helping facilitate a smooth and confident transition to parenthood. As a Doula I endeavour to support both parents (or any other birthing partner you may choose to have with you). By offering and meeting their need for emotional and physical support, they will be better able to be the best support for mum.
Together we will try to achieve the optimum birthing experience for all in any scenario - be it a drug-free water birth or one that requires medical intervention. I have vast experience in supporting homebirth, hospital birth, water birth, vaginal birth and caesarean section and both elective and emergency caesareans.
As a result I am deeply aware that women reflect most positively upon their experiences when they have felt safe, loved, respected and heard - when they have understood what is happening, why it is happening, and been given control over any decisions which have to be made. I believed that my role as a Doula is to help facilitate and nurture these feelings, empowering women to feel good about themselves and their birthing journey (whatever twist and turns it may happen to have taken) and leaving them emotionally strong and more able to cope with the transition to motherhood.