What I am 'do-ulaing' right now
People often ask, "What does a doula do?" So here are just some of the things I am currently doing in my role as a doula.
Updated July 2021
Here are some of the amazing clients I am currently working with...
With lots of births due over the next couple of months, I am working with clients to help them prepare for the birth they want. This includes exploring their birth preferences, sharing additional and alternative information with them so they are fully informed and also planning for their postnatal period. I use half of the time I have with pregnant clients talking about birth but also giving time to consider how they want to go into their first few months as a new parent. This includes:
Considering how they want to feed their babies and giving them trusted sources of information that will support their feeding journey. This includes breastfeeding support networks like Carmelle Gentle's Virtual Breastfeeding Cafe which is brilliant for helping with any feeding concerns.
Sleep is always a big area of consideration for new parents and we often spend time talking about how they as parents can optimise their sleep whilst understanding their babies natural sleep needs and rhythms. Safe sleeping options are also a big topic of conversation so for everything sleep related, I refer my clients to Basis Sleep info.
Caring for ourselves in the 4th trimester is often last on the list of considerations but I also like to give parents time to really reflect on how they can look after themselves whilst also nurturing their babes. This maybe through nutrition, optimising rest and getting the support from those around them.
Always learning and unlearning
Education and Experience
With every client I support, I learn so many new things and I am building a library of resources that will help to support future clients. I am also always seeking education that will support my work as a doula. In particular, understanding cultural practices that support pregnancy, birth and postpartum care and supporting diversity in birth too.
The review I have done on The Aims Guide to Induction is now available on the Nurturing Birth website (link below). This book is becoming very useful at the moment with lots of questions and considerations coming up for my clients when it comes to inductions.
Behind the scenes, I am partaking in a very well known course for birth photographers. I was fortunate enough to gain a scholarship onto the course and I cannot wait to share more details about this and the work I am doing soon.
I am always looking for opportunities to learn AND unlearn, so this month I will be doing another course on supporting those in the LGBTQ+ community during their birthing experiences. This course is with Nurturing Birth.
Working to make positive change in the pregnancy, birth and early parenting world.
Birth World Work
I am passionate about racial justice especially in the birthing world. Having spent a lot of time and energy trying to raise the issue Black and brown people face during their parenting journeys, I wanted to do something different. I want to create something that celebrates us for who we are, so I am currently doing a personal photography project that captures and celebrates beautiful women and people of colour. This project has now been picked up by a local award winning theatre group called Common Wealth and my work will be displayed in an exhibition called 'There Is An Alternative' in Bradford next month. You heard this here first!
My work with Birthrights is on going and this month I will be talking to the Leeds Maternity Trust about how they can support the call for evidence that the birth inquiry has put out but also how the trust is supporting the Black and Brown communities it serves. Watch this space to find out more.
I shared my voice and personal experiences on racial disparities in the maternity care system with The Guardian newspaper who are doing lots of work to spread the word of the inquiry.
Looking after my physical and mental health
Being a doula has an impact on my physical and mental health. In order to support others, I need to look after myself.
I took a whole week off last month which is the first time i have consciously switched off from my work as a doula and small business owner. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and it tought me that I need to give myself more 'permission' to do this.
We went 'on holiday' to Hull...yes Hull and it was brilliant. The place we stayed was beautiful. We picked fresh eggs for breakfast each morning, we walked and talked and just enjoyed each other. We went to the beach with friends and played in the sand and sea. The simple things in life were all we really needed.
Life as a working mama
At the end of last month we celebrated our daughter's birthday. It was amazing to once again be able to share these moments with our family and friends. Seeing her in her element playing with the friends she has made, was the highlight of the month.