Just ‘Being’ A Doula

Cheshire Birth and Postnatal Doula Nikki Mather, talks about her visit to Paramana Doula with Michel Odent and Liliana Lammers and just ‘being’ a doula.

I am not always known for being the quietest of people around friends and family and can have some wildly wacky and opinionated thoughts and discussions when it comes to topics I am passionate about. In a stark contrast, when I am with women and their families, I am calm, quiet, relaxed and just ‘be’.  I listen well, I support wholly and my aim is to enable informed decisions to be made by the women I support. That does not make sense for most people who know me, they cannot understand how I can be so different in my doula role and with the women I have supported over the years with breastfeeding and I guess it is just my way of dealing with the energy flowing around and within me that allows me to direct that energy appropriately.

When I did my first bout of doula training, or preparation course, what totally resonated with me is that one key ability a doula needs to hold in her toolbox is to just ‘be’, sit quietly, inconspicuously be present but not make a fuss, not make a noise and literally just protect the birth space. I enjoy quiet, I enjoy peace and often ‘switch off’ whilst knitting or crocheting, using tools to turn off my active mind help me to relax and is important to me when supporting families that I am present for them. Birth needs an uninterrupted space, protected space, sacred space, families to feel safe. When women are able to feel safe, birth can move forward efficiently. A doula can hold that space for a family.

This weekend I have been very blessed to experience many hours of another doula course, Paramana Doula, with Dr Michel Odent and Doula Liliana Lammers, and everything about just ‘being’ was reinforced. Women *need* different things during labour and childbirth, however a common theme to enable smooth transition is quiet, peace, darkness….and for their support network to just be all of those things, facilitates that transition.

While Michel talks about the physiology of birth, (in his dreamy French accent which almost makes me want to sleep!) which humans have been doing for centuries, he also speaks of the very many things that society has brought into childbirth via cultural changes which inhibit the normal, physiological process of birth. Intervention, forceps, synthetic oxytocin; instead of supporting women in labour can hinder and prolong the biological processes that physiologically, women are born with and have the instinct to use, if allowed. Cord clamping is an example if another process which has been done for many, many years but which does not allow for the physiological process of birth to be completed naturally and research shows optimum cord clamping, or even lotus birth should be favoured where at all possible.

Listening to Liliana speak of her 400+ births over the past 15 years whilst working as a doula in London only fires me with more energy to support women with their choices; support them to make informed choices and allow them to experience the physiological, biological norm in childbirth. Be by the side of women who are fired up to do more research, ask more questions, find the answers *they* need to support their decisions. Listening to concerns and ‘being’ that calming presence can make a huge difference to a woman’s birth experience and that of her whole family. Undisturbed birth needs to make a come back!

I feel one weekend with Michel and Liliana was not enough, I feel I could listen to them both for an eternity because everything they spoke about resonated so well. I do hope our paths cross again in my time as a doula, I do hope I can only take a segment of what they offer, from their course, and apply it to my own practice. Women deserve to have the births they want amd wish for, the births in which they are very capable of facilitating in whichever way that is, wherever that may be, from a natural birth to a caesarean, I can just ‘be’ there to support their transition into motherhood.

The Elements of a Doula

Nikki Mather Doula
Hiring a doula can ensure you have the correct support for you-whether it is emotional support or practical, or maybe a combination of the two, alongside educational elements to ensure you can make an informed decision in your birth choices. Confidentiality is an important aspect of a doula’s work, and you can be assured your decisions will be supported, no matter what they are. For more information and doula support in Stockport, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and other North West areas please see the Doula Services page-get in touch if you do not see your area mentioned.In days gone by, mothers, aunts, friends, neighbours would provide the role of a doula to expectant mums without even having to think about it. Heating towels, cooling flannels, preparing nesting areas, fetching drinks and snacks. Listening, supporting, holding, nurturing mum into the transitional experience of birth.Why hire a doula? Well, it is quite simple really, who wouldn’t you want an extra pair of hands around, an extra listening ear, an extra shoulder to cry on…women and childbirth in the 21stC sometimes need additional support to enable informed decisions due to the diverse methods of intervention which are now available, but not always necessary and can, in the majority of births, be avoided with robust information to make informed birth decisions. An important element of being a  doula is the ability to listen to your concerns whilst making informed decisions, ensure you have the information to make those decisions and advocate for you where needed to ensure your voice is echoed.A doulas role is diverse-each birth is individual and therefore has different elements of need. Some may want a hands on approach in the home to support her family, older siblings and husband, while she births and gets to know her new baby in the early days-maybe cook a meal or two or fill your freezer with nutritional meals, some infant feeding or breastfeeding support or just to pop the washer on. Another element is purely emotional support, just ‘being there’ matters, listening to your story; consistent support is a primal need of human beings to feel reassured. The nurturing presence of a doula can support the transitional nature of birth and ensure the primal nature and privacy of birth are protected.

Nikki Mather is a Birth and Postnatal Doula providing doula support in Stockport, Wilmslow, Macclesfield, Knutsford and wider areas of Cheshire as well as other counties across the North West including Greater Manchester, Derbyshire and parts of West Yorkshire. Feel free to contact Nikki for more information