Training as a Doula with ‘Developing Doulas’, with Maddie McMahon and Katie Olliffe, has given me a secure base of knowledge in all aspects of the doula role. Since graduating, I have continued to learn; I love reading books and research papers that allow me to explore specific areas more deeply. Having developed an interest in pregnancy, birth and the postnatal weeks in my early twenties, I always wondered if I should have trained as a midwife, but when I learned about doulas, I knew that I would make a career jump eventually and train as a doula.
In developing my understanding as a doula, I have realised that there was so much that I did not question during my own pregnancies, births and early motherhood. Perhaps because I was relatively young starting my family, or because I had too much faith in authority, there are things I look back on in my journey into motherhood that I would do very differently, now that I am more fully informed.
I see my role, as a doula, as a supporter of your exploration of the options available to you in all stages of your journey as a new or expanding family, to become more informed and empowered. I do not expect you to reach the same conclusions as me, nor do I want you to have a birth ‘my way’: Simply, I want you to feel happy and contented with the decisions you have made. There are many comfort measures available to you when you are in labour. If you have learnt about them beforehand and practised relaxation and breathing techniques, then you can choose for yourself which to you feel will suit you best. I can support you to find relaxation techniques that work for you and may allow you to feel more relaxed in labour, including creating an appealing birthing environment, using my knowledge of rebozo techniques, hip squeezes, the use of homeopathic remedies and positive affirmations.
In the birth room, I keep in mind your preferences throughout the birth and aim to empower you to have a positive birthing experience. In the run up to your birth, we will have had a number of planning sessions, informal messaging and phone/video calls, and throughout this I will have gained a thorough understanding of the birth that you ideally want to achieve, the things you are happy to try and all the areas that, for you, are non-negotiables. I can help with putting together a Birth Preferences/Birth Plan and support your preparation for the new baby, wherever the birth is planned to take place. Every birth is amazing, and I believe wholeheartedly in your right to make choices for your body, your birth and your baby.
The practical support offered postnatally can vary according to your individual requirements, but generally includes: support for new parents in bathing, handling, burping, calming techniques, sleeping patterns and newborn development, breastfeeding and/or bottle-feeding support, allowing you time to sleep, have a shower or bath while I care for your baby/babies, household tasks including laundry, light housework, shopping, cooking, running errands, supporting older siblings, school runs, homework supervision. I can also stay overnight if required and look after your baby so that you can sleep and regain your strength. In order to provide emotional support, I will provide a listening ear should you wish to talk through your feelings.
Until recently, I had been a headteacher in an alternative provision setting, which is a school for pupils who have not thrived in a mainstream school. The pupils were referred for a variety of reasons; some could not attend school for medical reasons or due to their SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) requirements, others had been at risk of permanent exclusion or had already been excluded from school. In this environment I worked with many young people who had experienced significant trauma. I took a trauma-informed approach to my work with pupils and I believe this is also valuable to my role as a Doula. Throughout this career, I have developed a resilience and unflappable manner that supports others to remain calm and positive. I am also non-judgemental, reflective, reliable, patient and flexible; nothing will ever be too much trouble and I will be ready to adapt to your preferences and needs.
When my son was a baby he made all the usual milestones, but then he had a big regression in his speech at around 3 years old, became selective mute and we spent a lot of time trying to coax him back to speaking. He is now 12 and has made excellent progress. He thrives in Physics and Maths and is the most loving and kind soul; he just needed a bit more nurturing to get him going.
My daughter was born with hearing impairment that became a bilateral profound hearing loss. She now has cochlear implants, which we are incredibly grateful for, as she has been able to enjoy music, access ballet lessons and thrive at school. Both parenting journeys taught me a lot and made me very aware of the parental guilt that we often carry around because our child is not doing ‘what it says in the books’, and the pressure we can feel from those around us. I hope that this would help me to provide specialised doula support to anyone who finds themselves taking a similar journey.
In my local area, we have recently set up a breastfeeding support group, I attend this and support women who have chosen to breastfeed. I also intend to train as a breastfeeding counsellor with ABM (Association for Breastfeeding Mothers). I bring this knowledge to my postnatal doula support and am aware of a range of local support that I can signpost to, should you need it. However, I fully support all feeding choices and I am also happy to provide guidance on formula and combi-feeding.
As a mentored Doula, you have the benefits of an experienced doula, behind the scenes who is always available to me for any help I need. I will be happy to explain more about the mentoring process if you wish.
Your journey, as a family unit, is unique and the gentle emotional and practical support that a doula can give in pregnancy, birth and the postnatal weeks, can be invaluable. It would be a privilege to be that support. Choosing the right doula for you and your family is an important decision. I am, therefore, very happy to meet on an informal basis, or talk through your personal requirements on the phone, with no obligation to book.
I look forward to hearing from you and please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.