I am categorically not your guru! (and nor is any other doula)

Posted by: on Aug 8, 2019 | No Comments

Do you ever cringe at being misunderstood? I know I do!

This happened to me recently in the run up as I was organising a Holistic Pregnancy and Birth Fair in Castle Acre, Norfolk. I spoke to a local journalist about the event and explained the various professionals who would be coming and what they did, thinking it would be a showcase of the many different offerings that I was so hoping in my small way, to help popularise, normalise and to shake off the tiresome hippy label or trendy label which has become stuck to such things such as doulas or independent midwives or placenta remedies for example. Bless her, after asking me if the event was anything to do with tantric birth (yes, really!), and whilst I’m grateful for some coverage to help promote the event, such a headline title for the article does nothing to normalise or empower ordinary women. If anything, it’s like taking a step backwards because it perpetuates these things as being stuck in that category of seeming a bit hippyish and ‘culty’ – missing the point somewhat of what I was trying to achieve! I mean I’m honestly and sincerely grateful for some local coverage, but honestly… “Holistic Health Guru Holds Birth Festival” just makes us doulas sound like woo-woo whack jobs!

Firstly, I want to categorically state that I am not anyone’s guru. If anything I’m an un-guru! Guru suggests looking up to someone as an authority, which goes against everything I stand for!

In my role as a doula there’s no looking up or looking down. We are peers. How could it be anything else? How could you feel safe to relax and give birth with me by your side if you have such a lowly opinion of yourself and a higher one of me?!

 

I help intuitively, working with you to learn the ways to identify and understand the generic obstacles to smooth birthing whilst also acknowledging that what is an obstacle for some, may not be true for all! For some, giving birth in a busy hospital unit with an epidural would be the most comforting scenario in which certain women would be most likely to have a positive birth experience, whilst for others, they may feel completely safer at home, and wouldn’t dream of setting foot in hospital unless absolutely necessary. Is either of these ‘right’ or ‘wrong’? No!

In our sessions together antenatally, we examine the pros and cons of many different scenarios, and whilst we cover what helps physiological birth to flow most smoothly, we also look at, for example, how a really empowering holistic cesarean might look, or why some things may be more triggering for some women compared with others. Rather than try to steer everyone down the same path, I look at each woman in front of me as she really is and try carefully to understand her dynamic and needs which are always idiosyncratic and unique. I’ve had clients before who at the first interview stated that homebirth wasnt something they’d like at all, and even though I’ve been a homebirth campaigner, I’ve simply grinned and said a big fat “Ok!” because…. this is not my birth and what helps me feel safe isn’t what someone else might enjoy or feel relaxed about, and if anything, they would be more likely to have complications if they felt like they weren’t solidly grounded in their power. Some feel comforted having their children nearby, some can’t relax and let go until their child-carer(s) has arrived.

Sometimes, a woman might find that the mere suggestion of aromatherapy or massage makes them vomit, or that they adore gas and air. I’m not there to judge! I listen without prejudice and if I can help give a more rounded picture of something, I do, making sure she is aware of the cons as well as the pros, or I may effectively open up a broader menu of different options to help her get comfortable and be in her power… but never in any way that would disempower a woman I was caring for and I would never encourage her to over-ride her own instincts even as a first time mother!

Helping a woman to feel strong and give birth on her own terms is absolutely where I am at. Knowing her rights and options so she can make more informed choices (although gut feeling decisions are great too). Wherever a woman is at in her journey… either discovering, or rediscovering, claiming or reclaiming her power within a complex dynamic…. that’s what I’m here to help with. I can’t do the inner work for mothers, I can’t birth for them, I can’t be their strength or their courage. But I can help set them up to find their own answers, to reach out for other kinds of support than I can give them on my own, or that the NHS can offer alone.

Sometimes I just sit with a woman in her confusion and help her feel less alone while she figures out how she feels about something, or while she just rides the waves of the unknown – a place of no easy answers. There is a time and place for lending books of interest, discussing the Go With The Flow Mindfulness ideas with them, setting up conversations and facilitating a broader network made up of wise people who are experts at also supporting women to be in a stronger position for pregnancy, birth and beyond. And then there are the times of not knowing, not understanding and just being with that feeling. Because sometimes we are just riding by the seat of our pants and praying the mysteries and unknown dynamics will all turn out ok. Not everything is knowable, or certain – as in the rest of life!

My role is to point women to their own power in all settings and circumstances, the same power that flows through us all. No magic. No guru. No authority.

Just love for supporting women at a time when it can be so beneficial to have extra allies!

 

P.S. I’m nothing to do with Tony Robbins, who uses this phrase apparently

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(and is a bit of a knobend)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(in my very humble unguru opinion)