This morning I visited a new mum and dad. The sun was shining, the french doors opening onto the garden and a brand new beautiful baby girl dosing in her mummas arms. A sense of euphoria and peaceful contentment hung in the air along side that new baby smell.
One week ago I watched 2 become 3. The couple I mentioned above became a family. I sat in the room, quietly, unconsciously supporting this brave and fearless mumma power on, trust in her instincts and birth her baby in a way that was right for them both.
As a birth doula I get to see a whole myriad of births, different environments (nope, we don't just support home birth), different requirements and different expectations. Each couple have their own stories, and each need something different from a doula. Which is good as there is a full spectrum of Doulas in the Uk and we all come with listening ears and a willingness to support our clients through every eventuality. We also all have different personalities, cultures and backgrounds. There really is a doula for everyone! One thing we do all know is that birth can be unpredictable and thankfully doulas are like chameleons, we morph into whatever it is that the situation requires at any given time.
I have supported births where I have been sat quietly on the sidelines, the couple knowing I am there for them should they need me (you'd be surprised by how much that action alone can support a couple). I have supported births where I was to hold my client through every contraction, reassuring, nurturing, empowering. I have supported births where I 'just' filmed the main event and liaised with the midwife whilst the couple birthed together. I have supported births where I was the only birth companion and I've even supported a birth (thankfully alongside a fantastic doula colleague) where the midwife didn't make it in time (that was quite an experience!!) I have supported speedy births and I have supported long births.
I have never had a job whereby when I clock in at the beginning of my shift I have no idea how long I will be there for, no idea if I'll get a break, maybe not even a toilet of food break. I leave my own world and enter theirs for as long as they need me, unquestioning. I have never had a job whereby I have given so much of me before but, I have also never had a job that gives me so much in return.
I am so blessed to be invited into a vulnerable, private space and it's not something I do lightly. For me the most important part of my job is to never forget that I was invited, this is not my birth, these are not my choices, I am simply there to support in the way that my clients feel they need to be supported. Nothing more, nothing less. I park my (obvs minimal) ego at the door and I become their humble servant. A servant with a bag of Jelly Babies (birth essential) a new flannel (labouring women get hot) an understanding of the birthing process and an open mind.
A few days after the birth I get the pleasure of visiting the new family, drink tea, debrief their experience, answer any questions and soak up all the wonderfulness that comes with my amazing 'job'.
"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it" - Dr John Kennell