"We have a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong." - Laura Stavoe Harm

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My book shelf

I want to expand this... I used to own several other amazing books but they got sold in our moving-abroad cull. What's on your wish list?

My favourite book here has to be Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin. It's what really fed the fire, so to speak, when I was beginning to realise just how passionate I was about birth!

This is my Wish List - I'd love to know what's on yours!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Doula Bag

Here are the contents of my doula bag, packed today, for the home birth I'm on call for. Every doula is different, some don't take anything to birth, but I like to have these things with me in case I need them. I inevitably need something from the bag, sometimes lots of it!

So here's what we have:

  • A beautiful notebook - it makes me smile just to look at it! It has a magnetic closure to make sure that pages don't get crumpled. I use it to take notes during meetings with clients as well as to jot down important things during the birth.
  • Medicine - strictly for me, but there's nothing worse than having a banging headache from lack of sleep and nothing to take for it. So I have ibuprofen and generic cold medicine as well, in case I'm feeling a bit sniffly.
  • The Labor Progress Handbook - a fantastic reference book, which gives some great ideas for what to do if labour is not progressing as it should.
  • Hair ties - for me, if I'm going to be leaning over the pool or something, it's great to be able to tie my hair up. Also a large hair band that goes around the head in case the mum wants her hair back from her face.
  • Eye Mask - this can be such a great help if the room is brighter than the Mum would like. A feeling of seclusion and darkness can help restore calm.
  • Massage Oil - this is an invigorating completely natural massage oil, with an almond oil base. I love the smell, but it's not for everyone, so I also have...
  • Cocoa Butter Bar - very mildly scented massage bar.
  • Moisturiser - just a small tub of lotion for me to use on my hands if need be. I also normally have alcohol gel - mainly in case I have a cold or something.
  • Candles - just unscented tea lights to set the mood at home births, if that's what the parents wish.
  • Toiletry bag - basic toiletries for me, like a toothbrush, as well as a clean pair of underwear and socks.
I'm considering adding a pair of flip flops, I also need to buy some more hand sanitiser and another tennis ball - my last one has mysteriously disappeared! (No doubt into a child's toy box!) A tennis ball in a sock is great for lower back massage, and much easier on the hands of the massager. 

What are your Doula bag must-haves? Did your Doula bring anything to your birth that you loved?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Water Birth

I find that most of the women who engage me as their doula are keen to have a water birth, whether it be at home or at hospital. In fact that's often a reason why women have considered a home birth in the first place, because it's the only way they can be guaranteed use of a pool in labour.

There are a lot of benefits to water birth. My favourite book on the subject is Janet Balaskas' Water Birth Book. Unfortunately I don't own it anymore, it was a book I possessed in the States and was one of the many things that had to be left behind. Gentle Birth Choices by Barbara Harper also details water birth.

Labouring in water has been proven to be a safe and effective option for pain relief. It's often anecdotally referred to as an "aquadural" because of the sense of relief and relaxation that many women get on entering the water. We use water for relief in many other scenarios - hydrotherapy pools, for example, it makes sense to use it for birth as well.

One major benefit to a birth pool, in my opinion, is that it creates a space that is exclusively the woman's (unless she chooses to invite her partner into the water). I think it creates a feeling of privacy and comfort to know that this space is yours, and no-one is going to intrude on that. It also allows you to be in positions that might otherwise be uncomfortable due to pregnancy aches and pains (or in some cases more serious pregnancy related pain such as PGP). The sense of being weightless, and being able to turn over with ease, is something that you may really enjoy when you're 9 months pregnant!

On a practical note, it also makes clean up easy for a home birth too, most home birth pools come with a pump to drain all the water, and a liner that can be lifted out and disposed of immediately. There are several kinds of pools you can hire or buy, here are some common kinds:
-inflatable birth pool (Birth Pool in a Box, Made in Water, etc*) - advantages are that it's easy to store, can be pre-inflated if you have the space, and some women particularly like the soft sides and floor;
-rigid birth pools (The Birth Pool Company, etc*) - advantages are that these are often larger and deeper than inflatable pools so can more comfortably accomodate partners too, or provide more room for the woman to move around, some women also prefer rigid sides to lean on or against;
-heated birth pools (Birthworks Octagonal Pool, etc*) - advantages are that these can be assembled and filled before labour, sometimes not even requiring a water change, they can provide great relief pre-labour and in early labour which isn't possible with an unheated pool.

*Please note, other than Birth Pool in a Box, I have no personal experience with any of the companies listed, so I cannot give a personal recommendation.

Hopefully this has been of some help, have you had a water birth, or would you like one? I'd like to hear your thoughts!

For more information, check out the AIMS leaflet on Water Birth.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Trickle of Water

I've been pondering lately my client 'schedule'. I glanced through my blog and noted a post I wrote saying that I had no more clients lined up. I wrote that post in August. By October I had another client scheduled. Sadly I missed her birth though. At the moment I have 2 births 'on the books', one for April and one for September. I also have another potential client lined up for September. Although I love what I do, and could happily do it once a week, this slow and steady trickle of clients has really worked out beautifully for me. I don't really search out clients, they seem to find me through various methods. I love the relationship I have with my past clients, if I bump into them somewhere I immediately get a hug and an update on the baby!

I suppose I'm lucky in that I have the luxury of not needing an income. If I did, maybe I would have to market my services more or have to take a 'real' job? But at the moment things just always seem to work themselves out perfectly. A steady trickle suits me fine.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I've decided to give up Facebook for lent. What's worse is that I was going to blog based on a study I read, but the link is on Facebook and I don't have it saved anywhere else. So that will have to wait 40 days!

If you're local, I would encourage you to look at the maternity services review that NHS Grampian is doing. The details are all here:

I would encourage you to read the entire review, but there is also a summary document. You can then give your feedback. All responses must be received by March 22nd, 2012. This could really improve maternity services in the region, but you must give feedback if you want your voice to be heard!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A New Year

I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and New Year!

I have some grand plans for this year. Unfortunately (for me, not her) my first client of the year had her baby early and I wasn't able to be there. I was very much looking forward to supporting her and her husband so am disappointed, but it's just life I suppose! I plan to go and see her soon and meet her lovely baby. At the moment I have no more clients lined up, but as you may know I don't actively pursue them, I just wait for them to come my way.

This year I plan to resurrect the birth support group. I haven't gone for a while, but likewise I have had no interest. I need to make more of an effort, and I know a lovely midwife who will be joining me in that - all I want to do is help women, and it's amazing to know we can. On my first volunteer shift I remember two of the midwives were absolutely blown away that we were doing this without getting paid! I would love to get paid to doula at the hospital but it's just not possible, for many reasons, so for the moment we do our volunteer shifts and hope that we are lucky enough to be able to support someone who needs it. I do find it difficult to go in there not knowing the woman, because obviously that is the essence of private doula practise... going in and sometimes being the only familiar face to the woman and her partner!

I know 2 of my doula babies will be 1 this summer and I'm looking forward to that, one of my clients has already told me I'm invited to his first birthday party. I plan to give him a copy of his birth story as part of his birthday present, for his memory box.

I hope you are all doing well, if you're local, please speak up if you want to help with the choices for birth group.