We’ve had the pleasure of knowing Cotswold based Gillian for a few years, as we took our own little cubs to her Mother and Baby Yoga classes in Stroud when they were tiny. Gillian has recently qualified as a doula and knowing her calm demeanour, we can see why so many of her clients rave about her! Here, Gillian gives us an insight into what being a doula involves …
‘The word ‘Doula’ has hit the headlines recently as it has been rumoured that Meghan Markle has hired a doula to support her in her pregnancy and birth. If it’s true, she’s made a great choice as, according to one commentator: “if a doula was a drug it would be unethical not to use it” (Dr John Kennell, paediatrician) – and the benefits of having a non-medical support person with you at the birth of your baby, alongside your midwife, are well documented.
I’ve been a part of the ‘birth world’ here in the Cotswolds for a long time – as well as through NCT and yoga as I worked at Stroud Maternity Unit as a Maternity Care Assistant for four years when my children were young. I’ve long been fascinated by pregnancy and birth and amazed by the strength and resources women, when properly supported, can draw on to birth their babies.
My first experience of supporting a woman in labour was 15 years ago when a friend asked me to babysit her first child during the home birth of her second. The toddler slept through the whole experience and I found myself witnessing my friend roar her way through a powerful and beautiful birth – the seed was planted and not long after that I gave up my ‘day job’ to commit fully to helping other women find their inner goddess during labour.
Working as a birth and postnatal doula professionally is something I’ve only recently started doing – up until now my own family would have found it hard for me to rush off to a woman in labour in the middle of the night not knowing when I might be home. Now that they are older I can make the full commitment a doula client requires.
I am based in Stroud and happy to cover all of Gloucestershire. If you hire me as your birth doula, I am available for unlimited phone, text or email conversations, as questions or issues arise. We will meet up at least twice to discuss your hopes and plans for the birth – whether that’s at home in water, a planned Caesarean Birth or anything in between. You are welcome to attend Yoga for Pregnancy with me for half price throughout your pregnancy. And then from 38 – 42 weeks I commit to being on call for you, 24/7, to come as soon as you need me when your labour starts, and to stay until the baby has been born and you are happy for me to leave.
During the labour itself I might help with such things such as filling a birth pool, (I also have one to lend out for home births), attaching a TENS machine (which I can also provide), getting drinks and snacks, offering massage, coaching through useful breathing techniques, hand holding, brow-mopping, encouragement, hugging and helping in and out of the bath or to the loo! Research has shown that women labour better when they have the constant support of another experienced woman – so just the calm reassuring presence of a doula can make all the difference to the woman in labour and also to her partner.
“I feel so lucky to have had you with us. Thank you so much for being there… I know it took the pressure off Pete to remember all the different ways to support me in labour. It also helped us make important decisions leading up to the birth of our son… Best decision ever to have you as our doula.”
Friends have teasingly asked me if it’s me that has been hired as Meghan and Harry’s doula – but strict codes of confidentiality mean that even if I had been I wouldn’t breathe a word…!’
Photo credits: Emily Sandy