What would I gain from having a doula in my birth team???

What would I gain from having a doula in my birth team???

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As a coach and a doula I do a lot of networking online. I was very grateful yesterday to receive this very honest and curious question from an expectant third time mother:

{Q} “As I have only really heard of Doulas on USA TV shows, can I ask what… (sorry I’m trying to word this as my intention is far from to offend you but to learn if this for me)..would I get from you that i wouldn’t get from my midwife, husband, my mum and friends? I’m trying to work out if this service is going to give me anything extra than I’m already lucky enough to have? Thanks x”

{A} “Your midwife’s two priorities are the physical health of your body and the physical health of your baby; my priority is empowering you to make the best choices for your emotional, psychological and spiritual health, and then supporting you and those choices to optimise your enjoyment and empowerment through your birthing experience. A doula supports those aspects of your husband’s/wife’s/boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s health and enjoyment, and if relevant your other children or other birthing partner. In other words your midwife will focus mainly on your cervix, vagina and baby’s health, I’ll focus on making sure you are feeling positive, peaceful, comfortable and powerful as the latter stages of pregnancy, labour and the post partum period unfold.

Your husband/boyfriend as a male (or your wife/girlfriend/friend as a non labouring female) has the potential to be both having their own profound experience as well as being or feeling a little lost in the experience. He can read a lot of books to prepare him, he can empathise as much as his imagination allows him to, he may feel scared, exasperated, helpless, overwhelmed, overjoyed, traumatised, frustrated, squeamish or traumatised at any given moment during labour, birth and immediate post partum.

Michel Odent has infamously asked three confronting questions of fathers being present at a birth:

First question: Does the participation of the father aid or hinder the birth?

Second question: Can the participation of the father at birth influence the sexual life of the couple afterward?

Third question: Can all men cope with the strong emotional reactions they may have while participating in the birth?

For the answers and full exploration of this topic read the full article here: http://www.midwiferytoday.com/articles/fatherpart.asp

A doula can support your partner in their experience of labour, both practically (ie popping the kettle on, making cups of tea, topping the birth pool up, making the placenta smoothie after birth, taking photos with you all in frame, letting him go to the bathroom and take a break for a moment), emotionally (a hand squeeze, a hug, a shared look, a hand on the shoulder, a safe word if he’s squeamish) , and all in the name of helping him to support you best. I love this article, and this quote from it “Our doula really helped bring me together with my wife as she gave birth. My wife remembers my constant support and never failing love or knowledge. She remembers the doula as a nice person who did some stuff in the background. We won’t give birth without a doula.”

Your Mum is your Mum. You were connected at one stage by an umbilical cord, or by adoption papers; either of those things carry a lot of emotional baggage – in a good way most of the time, but sometimes some women find that emotional baggage doesn’t actually keep them in the best place for them to experience their own power during labour….some women need their mothers and can’t imagine labouring or birthing without their mothers in the room. If your mother is there; then a doula can support your mum in supporting you in the best possible way; taking away the things that might take her away from the – the practical and emotional things above. Or, if your mum is not there, then a doula can mother you; take care of your every need in a nurturing way – but without the same weighted emotional ties. And she would probably offer to text your mum to keep her informed of the process so that you are kept away from the bright light of the mobile screen which isn’t so conducive to the labouring mind.

Your friends are family you choose, you mention them so I’m assuming you are close and that’s wonderful that you know they are there to rally around and be supportive. The thing is with friends that we often have a certain point with friends where we stop just before we ask them ‘one more thing’ – because we think “Oh but they’ve already done so much” or “ Oh god should I share that info or is that just TMI” or “ I know she’s having a really tough time with her husband right now – I can’t have a pregnant moan about the fact that I sent my Tim out for hazelnut icecream and he bloody came back with macadamia nut brittle instead” etc. A doula is there to listen to the TMI stuff, to go that extra mile and make up an extra batch of xyz as needed, to realise the difference between a hazelnut and a macadamia and to not think you’re a pregnant or labouring diva but to just get to know you and do those extra little things in just the right way for you….so your friends can come round, have a cuppa, have a two way moan because you know you’ll save that extra moan with your doula so you have space for their stuff too.

Other things a doula does above and beyond the team you mention:
– She helps you inform and empower yourself about birth so you can plot out your birth preferences not based on what the hospital protocols/home birth team/birth centre normally “allow” but upon what will work for you and your family, what will make you feel safest and what will hopefully mean a positive, peaceful and empowering birthing experience as opposed to birthing a healthy baby at any cost.
– Unwavering, non-judgemental and non-phased birth support at any birth you choose or need to undergo. In a Pennine stream, in a hospital theatre, in a birthing pool in your living room, the local birth centre or on your kitchen floor: a doula will be there calm and unwavering, with a hug, a smile and an eye to eye look reminding you of your power and strength when you need it most – whatever the setting whatever the situation.
– She holds the space around labour, birth and the golden hour post partum. What does that mean? It means helping you to keep your surroundings during the last weeks of pregnancy as calm, safe and peaceful as possible, and during labour means protecting that space and reminding those who may come in and out of it to respect it, promoting oxytocin amongst everyone who comes in and out; and that oxytocin will help you and your body to remain saturated in it (Oxytocin is one of the main hormones in the birth hormone cocktail)
– She records your birth story for you; the time you really got into the zone, the funny thing you said whilst eating a sandwich, the time the midwife arrived, the time your waters broke, the time the delivery kit was mobilised, the moment baby crowned, the moment baby was fully earthside…and if you’re lucky she will be able to take a few photos too!
– She can offer alternative pain relief methods such as massage, acupressure, rebozo, aromatherapy.
On top of all that I would say that I personally can offer:
– Years of counselling and coaching experience to support in listening, overcoming and setting intentions and goals around pregnancy, labour, post partum and breast feeding
– Reiki and polarity massage before, during and after birth
– Alternative support in helping you with Optimal Foetal positioning )including Moxa for breech presentation
– Massage, acupressure, rebozo sifting and aromatherapy as above
– Birth photography
– Currently offering preparation of placenta smoothies and portioned placenta for the freezer, plans to offer placenta encapsulation in the not so distant future
– Excellent tea making skills; and a penchant for choosing the right herbs to support good health throughout”

I received this reply following my answer:

“Wow thank you for this information, I’ve read, reread and read again for good measure ( it’s peaceful here at 5.30am lol) I think your work of empowering the person going through the labour and pregnancy and her partner is such an incredibly amazing thing and understand how and why many many couples would need and want you by their side especially for a first birth or after a previously traumatic experience. Having laid here digesting your words and reflecting on my previous birth experience ( emm c-section, sick mummy, very cardiac sick baby and then natural, long but brilliant personal birth with my hub by my side then straight home to breath in our own space) I feel my husband and I are all we need to create an environment in which to bring our third child into our family. I do feel for my second child my husband ( his first) would have really gained so much from you bring there from what you’ve said above. I hope you don’t mind but I’ve sent your comment above to two friends who are both due to give birth in August ( one first time parents and the other a mum who’s going to be a mum and a dad soon) who I think will both be very interested in your support.”

What would you add to the list of benefits of having a doula beyond the great statistics that are out there?

Did you have a doula?

Did you not have a doula but wish you had? Why?

Did the experience live up to your expectation?

What would you tell someone who was thinking about having a doula to support them and their family?

A quote I love which is a good one to end on (and also features on my business cards) is this one from John H Kennell MD:

“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it”

(So impressive are the positive birthing outcomes for mothers supported by doulas)

Still need convincing?!
Here are some other articles on why you might like to hire a doula:

http://expectingthebestbirth.com/50-reasons-to-hire-a-doula

http://taprootdoula.com/2015/03/23/stop-worrying-and-hire-a-doula/

http://www.bellybelly.com.au/pregnancy/doulas-what-is-a-doula/

Assuaging parental doubt….just for tonight

Assuaging parental doubt….just for tonight

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Have I held you enough? Stroked you enough?

Did I smell you enough? Taste you enough?

Did I kiss you enough? Hold your eyes in mine enough?

Did I laugh with you enough? Did I cry over you enough?

Did I guard you enough? Release you enough?

Did I buy you enough? Shield you from consumerism enough?

Did I feed you enough? Weigh you enough?

Did I hear you enough? Speak to you enough?

Did I document you enough? Email you enough?

Did I share you enough? Spend time alone with you enough?

Did I watch you enough? Did I let you roam enough?

These are just a fraction of the questions that plague me as a new parent daily it seems. Fortunately when you are awake I don’t have time to think – you get everywhere; your hands in the butter, your feet in the cat food, your whole body underneath the dog….climbing the step ladder, coasting from sofa to sofa. My mind is glad of the break as it focuses on the development of eyes in the back of my head to make sure the sockets are protected and the radiator pipe isnt too hot for your little paddle hands as they curl around it anyway and you look up and ask “Whaaaaash da?”

We are approaching your first birthday so I’m not really sure I can class myself as a new parent anymore?! Yet every day I wake up with you it seems like I meet you again for the first time, or maybe thats just right now as the Wonder Weeks ap tells me you’re going through a very significant leap.

Here we are in bed. You asleep alongside me. Starfished between me, the sheepskin, the duvet discarded and your chunky little thighs resting akimbo. Your breath calm and shallow. A half smile on your face; the remainder of the “tickle tickle giggle giggle” call you were making as you slowly surrendered to sleep. Moments later you whimper, heart breakingly heart broken….a memory from today?

It passes and you sigh. So do I.

I take in your curls, they were dark, they have lightened in the sun – you adore the great outdoors. Your perfect button nose, your long curled lashes framing those eyes of yours. Your wonderful, deep, soulful and opalescent blue lagoon eyes. Your skin a shade darker, bronzed slightly in the sun.

And my mind whirs into action again. Did I offer shade and protection enough from the elements today?

Pfffffffffffffffff! Enough.

Just as I tell you nightly:

“You are, you have always been, you shall always be – enough – just as you are. For you are you, perfectly imperfectly you; and that is enough, more than enough for me. There is nothing you could ever do to stop me loving you.”

Tonight I might tell myself the same.

Let me remind you….

Let me remind you….

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Dearest Human Being, or should I address you as Human Doing?!

I’m writing you this letter because I feel you in deep despair, inner turmoil, confusion and pain. This is a place you have not existed within for many years; or what feels like many years because the power of the light, the love, the flow and the abundantly beautiful natural order of the Universe which you have been living in alignment with is so different to this place you’re in right now. You were flying so high in that vibration that this place – the entrapment, the stuck feeling, the gloom, “The Fear” – this place had become but a distant memory which had almost been eradicated by it’s irrelevance.

My darling, I need to say to you – your eyes looking directly into mine – we are headed back there: I promise. This time it will be even more blissful, light infused, love filled, flowing, abundant, prosperous, beautiful and effortless than ever before because:

a) you’ve been back here, you’ve sat through this dark night of the soul, you’ve felt it like you’ve never really felt it before and you have been kinder and more compassionate to yourself during this darkness than you ever managed in the past

b) you have jumped two feet in; you are fully committed to the path which exists in conjunction with divine purpose and order, with your soul’s whispers, and with your heart’s yearnings. This path which translates as being authentically, uniquely, lovingly, unabashedly and all encompassing YOU !!! You know now, through feeling all this, that that means the whole you: the shadows of you too.

I see you now. Wrinkling your brow. I see you calculating, I see you plotting, I see you planning, I see you shrinking, I see you hardening, I see you losing the thread and I almost see you feeling the sinking, sliding, heavy, weighted and spiralling reeling feeling that seems to drag you from your brow down to your feet and root you, pin you, hold you: stuck, frightened, fearful, lost in despair.

Then I hear your Lizard Mind/The Gremlins/The Ego pounce. The voices competing. The abusers past, the naysayers present, the childhood stealers, the karmic cycles, the systemic rhetoric; they take their turns to vocalise the thoughts which keep you in fight, flight and freeze. The most frightening: the voice which transfers between them all, the most evolved and manipulative of the voices – the pseudo spiritual thought box; cleverly twisting, evading, borrowing vocabulary from your work and creating the most persuasive doubt…..

“Is this in fact my heart voice communicating? Or my spirit, my intuition telling me ‘Sort it out you faker – how could you help another reach their goals when you’re so far from your own you navel-gazing tree-hugging wannabe? Its time for the harsh reality you failure; if only you’d gone to University, if only you’d never loved and lived with your father, if only you’d never loved and lived with your mother, if only you’d continued crunching those corporate carrots, if only you’d scraped and scavenged, if only you were less generous, if only you were more courageous, if only you were more, if only you were less, if only your face fit, if only you were enough….ad infinitum’ ”

Stop my sweetness. Look me in the eye and repeat after me: “Thank you”.

Really. Say thank you to all those voices individually. Immerse yourself in gratitude for every single one of those wise and generous critics you have known, loved and lived with. Really feel the pinch and the pain of each criticism they make.

Is it a pin prick or a knockout blow?

Notice that darling. That there has NEVER been a KNOCKOUT blow! Never!

Nor shall there ever be. For one of your many gifts is strength. Strength of spirit. The courage, the will and the determination to carry on, to continue your quest, to seek further, to go deeper, to push forward.

Beyond hurt, beyond betrayal, beyond frustration, beyond boundaries, beyond the karma, the dogma and the limits of family systems, soulmates and lovers.

Onwards and beyond.

Aaaaaaaaaah: I see your jaw soften slightly. I see you swallow, the lump in your throat is almost visible too. I hear you breathe a little more deeply. It is ok; you’re safe now, here in this present moment.

Expand.

Take space.

Take root.

Straighten your spine.

You. Are. Safe.   You. Are. Loved.   You. Are. Protected.

Did I remind you yet?

Did you feel us reconnect yet?

I never left. I am here with you always; within you, without you, in front of you, above you, below you, behind you. I am here; you are safe, you are loved, you are protected – and in any moment you can check into our fizz; let me remind you, and you’ll know it too.

Have faith my darling. Have hope, and be courageous.

Come within, or head off up and out into that higher realm, let us meet up there, let us embrace, let me remind you. Every cell and every spiritual vibration of you – within you, without you, all around, all-embracing. Let me remind you in a moment, in an hour, overnight, your whole lifetime let you never forget.

Remember me – for even in these painful, sticky, stuck, doubtful, fearful periods of transformation, transition and revelations; I am here and we are connected.

Lean in on me whenever you need to.

If you need a hug – I’m here. If you need to find forgiveness – I’m here. If you need a reminder; a big, small, temporary or constant reminder  – I’m here: let me remind you.

Lean in for I have trust, will, determination, space, power, healing, hope, action, allowing, light, acceptance, forgiveness, blueprints, faith, bliss, joy, happiness, contentment, energetic free flow, creative pizzazz, nourishment, mothering, fathering, divine love, universal love, romantic love and LOVE for both of us.

I have all those things in abundant supply, always. Enough for two, enough for three, enough for ten, enough for twenty, enough for five thousand, enough for Yorkshire, enough for Blighty, enough for The Netherlands, enough for Europe and beyond. Lots. Unlimited. Boundless and effortless abundance. Prosperity aplenty. I can reflect it all back to you whenever you need a reminder or you need to borrow it; like a seven dimensional mirror.

You know it; it’s all within, within me, within you: your higher self.

Sit with it. Let me cloak you in it. Bask in it. Resonate with this truth awhile.

Perhaps that’s all the action you need to take just now? Letting me remind you of this; coming home to this.

This is your homestead and I am your hearth. Stay awhile here with me; you’re not a guest here and you could never out stay your welcome.

And so it is.

Love, hugs and always,

Your Higher Self

Observing. Going within. Finding truth.

Observing. Going within. Finding truth.

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I feel sadness.
I feel disappointment.
I feel hurt.
I feel wronged.
I feel paralysed.
I feel full of indecision.
I feel doubt.
I feel despair.
I feel afraid.
I feel uncertain.
I feel empty.
I feel angry.
I feel nauseous.
I feel pain.
I feel achy.
I feel small.
I feel contracted.
I feel tense.
I feel oppressed.
I feel heavy.
I feel lethargic.

And yet.

I am joy.
I am hope.
I am faithful.
I am loved.
I am right where I need to be right now.
I am ready.
I am willing.
I am embracing divine planning.
I am trusting.
I am love.
I am faith.
I am flexible.
I am free.
I am replenished.
I am plentiful.
I am peaceful.
I am well.
I am vibrantly healthy.
I am vibrating with energy.
I am unlimited.
I am expansive.
I am flowing.
I am at peace.
I am in flow.
I am living light.
I am light.
I am radiant.
I am grateful.
I am.

And so it is.