Doulas help you in ways you maybe can’t even imagine yet!

Posted by: on Mar 28, 2019 | No Comments

Why would you need a doula? What do they do? To give you an idea, I’ve written a list of some of the many ways I have supported parents in the birth room and in the hours and days immediately afterwards.

Over the years I’ve….
…. encouraged mums verbally during pre-labour…. early labour… transition…. pushing stage……. birthing their placenta…. and before caesarean birth
…. held their hand when they hit super-intensity and thought they couldn’t do it any more (some using gas and air and some without any drugs)
…. rigged up their phone to play music in the birth room
…tied hair back of a mamas face into a ponytail
…. passed her water to sip throughout labour
… set up fairy lights to change the mood in the room from being stark, white and bright, to more relaxing and conducive to birth
…. rearranged the furniture in the room to help make maximise the space for optimal flow and movement
…. set up inflatable birth pool
…. helped fill the birth pool with water
…. helped drain and clean the birth pool
…. been a constant calm voice, no matter what was unfolding….
…. brought food and hot drinks to parents
…. carried bags from room to room or car to hospital and back to the car
…. parked their car for them so they could just walk into the hospital at the entrance and not have to cross a big carpark whilst having contractions
… held baby while mum had a blood transfusion
… calmed shaking dads down
…. been available at all times of day and night to process the birth, give breastfeeding support and keep mums company when they’re very tired but up feeding their baby at 3am
…. dug out baby clothes and nappies from mums overnight hospital bags or from around the house
…. held hands while canulas were inserted into mum’s arm
…. changed baby’s first nappy
…. helped baby to latch on for the first time and support a mum who was very weak after losing a lot of blood
… cleaned up blood… vomit… poo… amniotic fluid
… trodden on poo and cleaned it up silently!
…. scooped poo out of the birthpool using a sieve
…. kept an eye on the thermometer in the birth pool for temperature
…. located and liased with midwives to ensure birth ball was found out of the cupboard… and remote monitoring equipment was fully charged and ready for my client
… read stories to toddlers in hospital room alongside labouring mum
…. supported mum to walk to the toilet whilst hooked up to a monitor
…. bought dads a clean t-shirt and new pants from the local supermarket on day 3 in hospital
… gone home and fed the cat                                                                                                …. talked older children through the intense noises of labour so they understood that their mum was ok and safe and that what was happening was very normal

…. helped midwives prepare the placenta for refridgeration
…. helped mums to find better positions for comfort
… physically supported them to get in or out of the bath or birth pool
…. explained things using less medical terms and simpler language / translated from english into their own language if parents didn’t understand something
… bought parents time in non-urgent decision-making scenarios
… handed mums nightshirts, sanitary pads, knickers, snacks and other personal things out of their reach in their bag on the floor
…. stayed with mum so dad could go home and get some sleep after a very long night… and be with his other children or feed pets etc
…. held babies while their mum had 20 or 40 winks…
… held baby while mums had a shower….
…. brought home-cooked food for the freezer or to eat straight away (to save parents cooking)
… travelled in an ambulance during homebirth transfer with mum and comforted her on the journey whilst husband drove in car behind
… cooked parents a hot meal in their home
…. caught a baby because the midwife got lost and didn’t arrive in time!!!
…. asked anaesthetists to be more considerate in applying cannulas (please can you wait til she isn’t having a contraction before you stab her in the arm with that needle!)
…. tidied up and put the room back to normal after homebirths, made up beds with fresh bedsheets
…. given love to all in the family and kept them in a positive bubble
…. massaged mums feet and lower legs before and after birth
…. taken pics of the labour and birth on parents request
…. renewed car parking tickets so the dad didn’t have to go and be away from their partner at a really awkward moment when she really needed his strength and support
…. gave parents encouragement to trust their instincts and follow them
…. belly laughed, cried and shared confidences                                                                  …. washed up and cooked breakfast                                                                                      …. closed bones                                                                                                                            …. massaged mums back well past the point where I felt my arms would surely drop off
…. and more!

Dear midwives, I need to tell you something

Posted by: on Mar 25, 2019 | No Comments

I’m so sorry.

In the years I had to campaign and fight for all women to have the same rights to homebirth, I heard from so many mothers across the country who were tired, hurting and broken by their birth experiences. Angry at the injustices inflicted by the very same system that is pushing you to your limits.

I’m ashamed to say that because of my anger I haven’t always thought too kindly of you. I’ve blamed you for births that maybe didn’t need to go the way they did, and for all the casual cruelties inflicted on mothers and their babies, that were really, most likely, not your fault, but a result of there just not being enough staff to do the million and one things you have to do to care for several women at a time.

I can see more clearly these days just how your long your shift must feel some days or nights, how little support you get from your bosses sometimes in supporting truly physiological births, and what the stress and trauma of working in this system can be like for you. I hear the stories from broken midwives who don’t want to leave but are so ill from stress that they feel they have no other options. I see your good heart. I see your hard-earned skills. I see your frustration. I see the lack of breaks.

The management systems you are having to work within are not your fault. They probably not even the managements fault either. They’re being squeezed too, no doubt. I see the bullying you suffer for being that one midwife who wants to spend longer ‘with woman’, who wants so much to offer true continuity, and the ridicule and resistance you face for trying to do what is common sense and evidence based, only to be sneered at, or labelled a ‘trouble-maker’ behind your back (or maybe to your face).

I see from midwife friends around the country just how little true support there is for you when you grieve for women who experience very difficult or traumatic births, and then have to carry on as if you hadn’t seen it, keeping a practical head and not disintergrating into a flood of tears until you can get home and maybe not even then if you have children to care for or other more pressing things you need to do. It seems impossible that you can’t be just a little heartbroken… even those of you putting a brave face on it all for years on end.

After all that training, only to find that the ideals you learnt in your early days are just so fucking hard to keep up, day after day and year on year, I can only imagine how heartbreaking it must feel to not always be able to practise how you would wish to. I share your tears behind closed doors for the cracks in the increasingly pressurised maternity system. At it’s best, the NHS can be utterly magnificent, life saving and wonderful, but I see and hear from some of you how it can also push you to breaking point and leave some women shaken and traumatised. Even if we are bloody good at soldiering on and putting a stiff British upper lip on it, that stress has to find some way out or we store it up inside us. And I’m sure you guys are experts at supporting each other and laughing off some of the horrors you must see. Privately I know some of you have weeks or months when you are haunted by things that likely were not your fault at all, but the failings of the system and it’s limitations that you are working in, by policies and funding gaps and staff recruiting inconsistencies and fuck ups up the chain.

So I just want to say, on World Doula Week, that I see you, and I am incredibly grateful and in awe of all you do for women. The miracles you pull out of almost thin air every day. The silk purses you make from the sow’s ear you are handed. Holding it together day after day. I hope you can keep finding ways to look after yourselves when you feel like the wind is in your face.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I see you. I really do.

Mother’s Guilt!

Posted by: on Mar 9, 2019 | No Comments

Keeping a large family fed, watered and clothed in these modern times can be a complex web of decisions for us mums. It feels like there isn’t a single choice that doesn’t mean either our kids miss out on something fun, or the planet suffers in some way. When half of all products contain palm oil, it seems bloody everything us wrapped in plastic and hardly anything is organic or fairly traded… every day can feel like guilt bingo. If we eat on the hoof because we made a spontaneous plan, it feels like a baby orangutan will die because there will probably be something will palm oil in it. Or it will be wrapped in plastic. Or sprayed in chemicals which some poor worker inhaled. Or involve some kind of animal product where the animal was raised in captivity of some kind.

When we buy clothes for a large family, how many of us can honestly afford fairly traded 100% organic cotton or wool clothes for every last item, guaranteeing it was made in the UK and didn’t involve anyone hunched over a machine for 16hrs a day?

Are we still good parents if we use cloth nappies and have the odd McDonalds? Or get an organic veg box every week but buy toothpaste with flouride? Does one undo the goodness of the other?

It feels like everywhere we turn there is a crappy consequence for how we live. Some days it can feel like the only righteous path to live is to go all Oliver Cromwell and ban all the fun, terrible things altogether. Pretend it’s the 1700′s and grow all our own food and make all our own clothes and turn our backs on 2019 and happy meals (not organic and probably made of turds) and ipads (someone’s village probably got destroyed as they mined for precious minerals to make it) and glitter (bad for sea animals) and flip flops (because they wash up on beaches) and not strictly necessary trips (because consuming fuel is crap for the planet eh).

And I just want to say that if you’re feeling utterly exhausted by it all and want to run away and live on an island somewhere…. it’s not all your fault. This shit is bigger than you. You can’t always win. At least once a day you will probably do something that fucked something up for your kid or the planet or your sanity. It’s impossible to be good at everthing all the time.

So please give yourself a pat on the back. We’re living in crazy times. Modern life is a bit rigged against us doing everything totally ethically, all the time.

Do the best you can today… and remember that doing some things better than you did yesterday is better than doing nothing…. make small changes if you can here and there…. but don’t walk around beating yourself up about not eating 100% wholesome food or living 100% plastic free…. or not eliminating 100% of palm oil from your diet….. or that you bought a Nestlé product by accident because you were tired and didn’t see the label til you got home…… or because your kid watched a lot of episodes of something they liked because you had no energy left over after a challenging day/week or even year…..

Do what you need to do to get through your day….

…. and bless the rest!