This week is a quiet one as I start the wind down for Christmas. I have baby massage, my Wednesday morning drop-in and a couple of antenatal classes to keep me out of trouble. In-between that I shall be doing my January/February bookings and writing a range of new articles and handouts for expectant and new parents.
Like everyone else on the planet – apart from the super organised of course – I also need to start wrapping presents and decorating the tree…
Life as an antenatal teacher, doula and parent supporter is always interesting and never ever dull. I have said it many times before, and I say it again now, I love what I do.
A comment often made by clients is “don’t you get bored answering the same questions”. The simple answer is no and the long answer is: I don’t get the same questions because they come from different parents, with different needs and I focus on each parent individually.
The last week has involved supporting a couple through labour – which is always an incredible experience – baby massage, weaning, my drop-in and a few antenatal sessions.
In baby massage and my other postnatal sessions, mums and babies are welcomed and supported in small groups and informal sessions. There is plenty of chat and laughs and mums can share and ask questions about feeding, sleep, development and meeting the needs of their baby. There is a lot of support and mums usually feel less isolated. There is also cake and a brew.
My antenatal classes also involve small groups so the sessions are informal and friendly – there are a lot of questions and parents often feel more informed and equipped to handle what labour throws at them. Nervous expectant parents can feel calmer and better prepared for what lies ahead.
Last night’s Relax & Breathe session saw a room full of pregnant women relax, de-stress and learn to use their breathing as a tool to keep them calm, relaxed and in control in labour and if they feel overwhelmed or panicky.
My antenatal and postnatal classes are all about providing information, listening and empowering parents, boosting confidence and encouraging parents to believe that they can do it. Birth and parenting is often about trusting your instincts and going with the flow because sometimes letting go of control gives you more control and flexibility because you are less stressed and worried about what you should be doing and more focused on what feels right for you and your baby.
I now run a range of antenatal and postnatal courses and I am trying to raise awareness of them because if parents don’t know about them, they can’t access them.
Everything is affordable, flexible and friendly and I have a number of years experience working with pregnant women and new mums across Tyneside.
Here’s everything I do – I am trying to reach as many pregnant women and new mums as I can, if you could pass on my information and help me spread the word I would really appreciate it.
Thanks so much
WHAT DOES A DOULA DO?
Last week I had the honour of being a doula for a couple who were having their first baby at home. It was a beautiful experience and it reinforced in me why birth doulas are needed and worth every penny.
- As usual I was called out before the community midwives to provide some support and reassurance during those early hours of labour. It meant they weren’t on their own and that can make a huge difference at any point during labour
- I was able to help with the TENS machine and to keep track of the contractions as well as ongoing support and reassurance that she was doing great, because she was
- I was able to provide ongoing support to allow dad to sleep and take a break
- I helped maintain the temperature in the birth pool
- When a transfer into hospital became necessary so packed up and off we went
- The first midwife in the maternity unit was very confident and positive but, at times, not sure my presence was needed. I wasn’t going anywhere and I was able to provide the one to one support that a labouring woman and her partner needs. As brilliant as a midwife is she simply can’t provide all the one to one care that a woman sometimes needs because midwives need to constantly make notes and do their clinical checks. This can sometimes seem never ending.
- I was able to be a voice with the midwives especially when the epidural failed to work
- I was able to sit back and allow the couple to be together
- Even when I was sat back to rest a little I was totally focused on my client so I could respond when her eyes searched for me and some reassurance
- I was able to give her a drink and I was able to apply lip balm
- Due to the length of labour I was able to provide ongoing support throughout all of it – I was with my client for 30 hours
- I was able to help my client to stay calm, reassured and relaxed as possible by using her breathing – especially when she needed to dig deep to keep going
- My client is my priority and my focus
I love being a doula and I wish I could do it more often than I do. I provide continuous emotional and practical support, hand holding and reassurance and guiding dads when needed. Doula support is an ideal way to supplement the care provided by midwives and I know it makes a difference.
It has always been my opinion that birth is beautiful and amazing and I mean every birth from the easy to the medicalised and complicated.
Birth can be raw, powerful, intense, exhausting and painful – it can flow well and it can be long and it can be complicated. No two births are the same because they are so unique for each individual woman – some women are left with positive memories, while others can be left scarred and needing further support.
Birth is beautiful because women who birth are beautiful and amazing – the power they possess to stay calm, to keep going, to use their breathing, to birth their babies is incredible – it demands awe and respect.
I write this after supporting a woman and her partner through two days of intense contractions. It was a long labour where plans changed, decisions were taken and pain and incredible tiredness was endured for the end goal of meeting her baby. It is not my story so I won’t share all the details but it was an honour to support her through every contraction – even when labour was at its toughest and she had to really dig deep, she was calm and focused and her breathing was relaxed despite being in pain, being exhausted and, at times, feeling scared. In short, she was incredible.
The birth was more medical than planned but she rocked it. She had great support from the midwives and doctors – who were caring, thoughtful, clear and, as much as they could, they listened when we needed them to – she had me as her doula and her fantastic husband by her side so she seemed safe and reassured through every step, every contraction and every decision. Despite it’s length and intensity there was plenty of chat, laughter and smiles and witnessing her effort, determination, instinct, power and ability is simply beautiful and it was an honour to be a part of it.