Why THIS doula didn’t hire a one

A Wonderful GUEST post by Charlie at The Good Birth Practice…

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

John H. Kennell, American Professor of Pediatrics

It’s been a good couple of weeks for doulas. Last week; the whole did-she-

didnt-she around Meghan Markle’s birth of Baby Thing. This week Amy

Schumer acknowledging that women are the shit, and recommending that

women get a doula (if they can... recommendations on how to find *your*

doula at the bottom, even if you think you can’t afford one). Doulas seem to

be the next trend for women seeking to make the whole birth experience a

bit more, well, bearable.

So why didn’t I hire a doula? After all, I’m a tub-thumping advocate for

positive birth. I’ve known about doulas since I was first pregnant in 2010. I

know some absolutely incredible, inspiring, preconception-challenging

doulas who’ve changed my world (Steph Grainger, Lauren Derrett,

Louise Daniels, I’m talking about YOU, Ladies). I know exactly what doulas

do, and why they’re important - and yet I STILL didn’t have one at any of

my 3 births.

The answer? Well, there are two; Susie and Tina.

Womens strongest feelings, positive and negative,

focus on the way they were treated by their caregivers

Annie Kennedy & Penny Simkin,

Doulas support women. Our purpose is to quietly gently lean in. To

bolster women. To nurture them, focus on them. Practically, we inspire

confidence by sign-posting to resources, groups, information. We hear

concerns, reassuring where we recognise common experiences, and gently

prompting, referring to the appropriate support. We listen to women,

giving the space, time that is no longer afforded pregnancy, so that

thoughts, feelings, expectations, assumptions can be processed. We

NEVER make clinical assumptions, recommendations or opinions. Perhaps

most importantly of all, we provide continuity of care. That continuity is

important because we learn about the whole woman, and the context she

comes from. It means we can see her fully, and facilitate the environment

she needs to have her baby in. It’s not just hippy dippy doulas that believe

this. Last weekend, to coincide with International Day of the Midwife, NHS

England announced the doubling of funding to maternity services to £40

million, with a focus on the provision of a named midwife for pregnant

women to see throughout their pregnancy.

Safety for childbearing women and their partners and

families...means emotional, psychological, and social

safety. This holistic sense of safety is what (women)

receive through continuity models of care.

NHS England

All these reasons above are why I trained to be a doula AND why I didn’t

need to hire one for my own births. Because from the moment I attended

my first ‘booking in’ appointment in 2010 I have been lucky enough to be

cared for by the same two women. These women - Susie, Tina - kept

skilled eyes on me, my babies for nearly 120 weeks over 5 years. They

listened in, they dipped sticks in wee, they palpated, and they measured.

More than that though, more than the numbers & the graphs, they listened

to me. They visited me at home. They gave me options. They didn’t

ridicule, patronise or deride me - quite the opposite. They gave me the

information, the protocols and explained why things were as they were -

and then they listened to what I wanted and why, and they helped me get

it. They were practical and rational, and empathetic. They trusted me, and

so I trusted them. They lit candles around my bath. They held my hand and

eye contact. They smiled at each other and my husband as I disappeared

further into myself, my labour. They whispered love into my ear. They

became part of my family, and I became part of theirs.

So you see, I didn’t have any need for a doula at all. My midwives doula’ed

me beyond anything I could ever have imagined I might want or need.

And not just me. I live in a community of women who have deep love for

Susie and Tina. Women who well up on the street corners when they realise I

know them, and who recall quiet words, small moments and powerful

memories months and years old. Because birth marks us in ways beyond

measure.

So I know how lucky I am not to have needed a doula - and I will always

pay that forward in any way I can.

You can find a doula at the Doula UK website. If your budget is limited, talk

to mentored doulas who may be pleased to support you as they work

towards their recognised status. They may also be able to refer to you to

the Doula UK access fund.