I knew that midwifery was my calling from an early age. At eighteen I went up to London to train and was a midwife at the age of twenty two.
I worked in various parts of the UK, and then when I had my children, working at night seemed the ideal way to combine midwifery with being there for my daughters.
Eventually after 30 years as an NHS midwife, I decided to take a step back, and consider what was important to me in life.
After some research, and knowing that midwifery was in my soul, I was drawn to a different role, but still in the field of birth, the role of a doula. Doula means serving woman, and is the worlds second oldest profession!
Being a doula offered me the opportunity to get to know and understand women really well, inside and out, and to understand what they wanted to achieve in pregnancy and birth and to help them to achieve it. To be an advocate, a trusted friend and a supporter.
Having doula support can make a difference and improve birth outcomes. There is a 50 percent reduction in the rate of caesarean and a significant reduction in the use of narcotics for pain relief, and an overall improvement in the birth experience.
The role of the doula is different from that of a midwife. As a doula, I provide emotional and physical support during pregnancy and birth. I help with planning for birth, and signpost to information about available options, such as homebirth, waterbirth, place of birth, hypno birthing and preparation for labour.
As a complementary therapist, I am able to provide essential oils for labour, teach massage techniques, and optimal positions for labour and birth, and use reflexology antenatally, in labour and for postnatal therapy.
I am no longer bound by time constraints, and I am able to remain with women and her family for the entire duration, with no threat of a shift change!
I am able to give time to explain procedures and to discuss the implications of choices.
I am also able to support women when attending midwife or doctors appointments, and one of the best aspects for me, is that my time is no longer dominated by paperwork!
I have found that being a doula is the most rewarding work, not least because many special relationships develop in the process, primarily between women and their doulas, but also with her extended family, and with midwives and other health professionals too.
Being a doula involves a huge commitment on my part. I allow four weeks for each woman, two weeks either side of her estimated due date, 7 days a week, for 24 hours per day!
‘many women know and research confirms that having an experienced female birth companion, who is neither a health professional nor a part of their social circle, can have a tangible positive effect on their experience of childbirth’
May I also recommend a wonderful little book written by Maddie McMahon called ‘ Why doulas matter’ published by Pinter and Martin, which may be purchased or borrowed from me.