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


The Curse of the Baby Whisperers

In society today there is such a huge difference when it comes to parenting styles in a variety of different communities. Should we be falling into the commercial world of prams, bottles, formula, baby food jars, bouncers-as society we seem to do as others do, or should we be nurturing our offspring by moving away from what is considered ‘normal’ and prepare our children for adulthood on a biologically normal pathway; listening to our own bodies and the needs of our babies.

Babies, toddlers, children; no manual!! Why no instructions?

Gina Ford’s ‘Contented Little Baby Book’ tells us she can fix all the problems which stem from Mother Nature’s omission of an instruction book by supplying us with her self devised code, a manual in order to complete the ritual of parenthood and survive that first year, without every experiencing parenthood herself. Working with 12 hour time periods, 7am-7pm, Gina Ford tells us that strict feeding regimes and sleeping patterns are the only way our babies should be nurtured-leaving babies to cry for periods of time so they can ‘adapt’ into self-settling techniques by being ‘taught how to sleep’.
The issue with this is that babies, quickly become despondent, amd as clever as they are, realise that crying is actually a waste of time and energy. In order to conserve energy, they tend to then fall asleep exhausted from the crying and screaming, with the harsh reality that their caregiver will not be there for them in times of distress. Recent studies over the past few years show that ‘controlled crying’ or ‘crying it out’ can be damaging to neurological connections and the continually rapid development of the newborn brain. Sleeping with our babies, whether co-sleeping in the right conditions or sharing the room with baby not only ensures baby’s needs are immediately met but it cannot be ignored that this practice, which is the norm in large communities across the world, reduces the risk of SIDS-Sudden J
Infant Death Syndrome-no mention of that though as co-sleeping would go against the grain of and follow the trend of the abundant non – evidence based ‘advice’ of the Gina Ford Philosophy.

Feeding babies on a schedule, instead of feeding on on baby’s cues can be just as damaging, irrespective of whether baby is receiving breastmilk or formula. Gina tells us that feeding 4 hourly is the norm and must be regulated. Feeds must be at 7am, 11am and not a second earlier, and do not dare to enter the separate-room-on-the-other-side-of-the-house your baby is crying in, should they dare to awaken before Gina says they should. Picking your child up at that point-your child has won, according to Miss Ford. Evil, coercing, manipulative babies! *tongue firmly in cheek*.

Brought into the brightness of day, is the Gina Ford assumption that you have birthed a milk-guzzling, sleep depriving, screaming human into the universe to disrupt your life for the rest of eternity! Unfortunately, what could have been a great book *cough* ended up telling mums that baby was broken or their parents were inadequate-6 feeds in a 24 hour period, especially in a breastfed baby, will most likely be detrimental to the breastfeeding dyads relationship; regular feeds are needed to ensure your supply is sufficient and your babies needs are met when you parent in a child-led environment.

The Gina Ford suggestion of expressing milk to ‘see how much baby gets at a feed’ is irresponsible and inaccurate, and is just one more way for a mum to doubt her body and the skills evolution has supplied her with.
Gina Ford’s way of making a living is to force new parents into feeling inadequate and unable to cope, using her regimented, prescriptive regimes and schedules. She disappointingly underpins the societal belief that babies should sleep through the night from day 6, should take 6oz on week 6 and will not settle unless they are left alone and cry themselves to sleep six times every day. When these ridiculous and somewhat dangerous routines fail, parents feel they have failed themselves, their families and their babies.

What happened? What happened to nurturing our young? Biologically caring for our young, keeping them close, sleeping, eating and drinking with them, comforting them. It all came to a stand still when society started to get busy and began to use the tips, tricks and commercialised baby rearing objects of a ‘let-somebody-else-mind-the-baby’ ideology; prams and cots, separate rooms and bouncers-anything to avoid picking your baby up and giving them the love and security needed. Arms to hold, hands to caress soft faces, breasts to comfort and feed and nurture.

Instead, the likes of Gina Ford have stepped into the long line of other ‘experts’, existing only to berate and ridicule biological nurturing of the newborn. Cuddle, pick up, feed, kiss, cuddle again; listen to your instincts, and follow what you feel is right for you and your baby. One day, humans everywhere will accept biological norms. Time for a change; EDUCATE.

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