Being a Doula is at the very centre of all the work I do, and is for me the most rewarding and exciting part of my work. Never more so than when I am asked to attend with a couple who originally came to me for fertility treatment - what a SUBLIME moment to have the honour to be present when that longed for person enters into this world.
It is an immense privilege to be present at every birth I attend, these are the moments that bring the greatest meaning to my life.
What is a Doula?
My understanding of the role of doula is to bring the unconditional support of 'mother-sister-bestfriend'. My ambition in being your doula is to add to your labour the experience of having someone there who is just for you - calmly centered on attending directly to your needs, on every level.
I bring my 27 years of maternity experience to lend an ever ready ability to help translate what is happening within the labour management - I am there as an interpreter, fluently speaking the obstetric language - always able to help you understand exactly what is happening at every step.
I'm here to be your extra hands, to wipe your brow, to be your ballast, bringing years of experience to help you find the rhythms and positions to facilitate efficient dilation.
I am ever ready to make the tea, mop the floors, put on a load of laundry, anything and everything that needs doing in the context of giving you the space to not have to think about anything except labouring.
I am also there to help 'spell' the Dads, giving them much needed opportunities to take a rest break or to run errands... Whatever the recipe, my role is to fit into your needs. My support is unequivocal, on your terms and in accordance with your wishes.
My role as a doula is to help facilitate the ability for you to create the kind of birthing environment you most need, and to help ensure that this is protected and honoured. I am here to help you ensure your every need and wish, and to help you safely make decisions of informed choice that will help you have the confidence that you are in control every step of your labour.
Home, Hospital, Birthing Unit Private or NHS ~ Wherever you need and want to birth I am there to support you ~
Experience You Can Trust
With nearly 3 decades experience of Birthing, as a mother and as a practitioner, I can offer a wealth of understanding about how to navigate the maternity services, both NHS and private.
Both my children were born at home, one in a birthing pool, and these birth experiences lie at the foundation of my understanding of what a holistic, normal physiologic birth can be.
It is the experience of having to fight for the right to birth at home that first introduced me to the structures of UK maternity protocols (an arduous task in a pre-internet, pre-evidenced-base, pre-transparency world: the honest-to-goodness actual olden days).
It was this uphill battle that has given me the motivation to dedicate my services to helping couples to engender their own most appropriate birth experience possible, with informed choice and safe practice always at the heart of the support I offer.
Back in the day, when I was giving birth to my 2 boys, home births were uncommon, and a water birth at home was almost unheard of! I was new to living in Britain and I had to work awfully hard, in a stick-to-my-guns sort of way, to buck the systems and engender the ability to have my babies where I knew I needed to be.
It was this experience of having to fight so hard, to create the right birthing space for me, that has informed my choice to dedicate my life to being a birth practitioner.
It is my very great desire to help couples to facilitate the sort of birth they intuitively know they need, and to help be a guide to working through the plethora of choices and information out there - helping couples make the choices that resonate best for them.
It is this sure sense of feeling confident about where the birth will be, and a sure sense of trust in the maternity team - that quintessential sense of SAFETY - that is so at the heart of being able to labour well. I believe the role of the doula is to help you to feel safe, every step of the way.
I am available to support couples in North, North West, East and Central London, for home, hospital, birthing centre, private or NHS. I am fully insured.
My decision to become a Doula is a natural extension of my existing obstetric practice. Childbirth is at the heart of what I do, and attending labours is my favourite part of my work. I also spend a great deal of time working with couples to prepare for labour, and I have been teaching antenatal classes since 2008. I am an acupuncturist and I graduated from college in 1998 with the intention to treat in pregnancy and childbirth. As an obstetric acupuncturist I have supported hundreds of couples through their antenatal, birth preparation, labour and post-partum care, and I have attended many births in hospitals, birthing units, community hospitals and at home.
Integrative Care This extensive birthing exposure has given me a broad understanding of the spectrum within maternity medical care, and it is this wide perspective that informs both my treatment and my teaching. I taught the Obstetric and Gynaecology & Fertility modules of the Brookes University MA Acupuncture course, and give ongoing international lectures on these subjects. My courses are always taught from an integrative perspective, with a 50% western medicine content and 50% acupuncture content. The training I give is to ensure scope of practice and safe practice.
Obstetrician-led Care For 10 years my practice was based in the offices of consultant obstetrician Donald Gibb, and being part of The Birth Company team has given me a thorough understanding of the processes of obstetrician-led care. This has also given me a higher exposure to complicated pregnancy and I am experienced in supporting women who may have difficult issues/high risk in pregnancy. I have attended at caesarean deliveries a number of times, and I am familiar with all aspects of medical obstetric interventions.
Oxford & London I was based in Oxford for 21 years, as well as having a practice in London since 2005. The M40 corridor is VERY familiar to me! I have been attending births in London since 2005, so do have a familiarity with all the hospitals here in North London and along the riverbank. I moved to London in 2011, so no more commuting, hurrah.
NHS Hospital Care Much of my practice is with women having NHS midwifery care, which has given me a thorough understanding of the full breadth of NHS services and a strong understanding of NHS protocols for pregnancy and childbirth.
As a member of the Acupuncture for Childbirth Team we each held an honorary contract with the John Radcliffe Hospitals Trust, which meant we were a very familiar sight at the JR maternity ward, and at the county's 3 community hospital maternity wards. It was a tremendous privilege to clock so many hours working within a midwifery hospital service that held 'woman centred' values. And the midwives were always so very curious to see acupuncture in labour. I have been most fortunate to have had a truly integrative experience of labour wards.
NHS Community Care I always say "I was raised by the Oxfordshire Community Midwives." They gave me hundreds of hours of mentored support, principally at home births, where I had the very great privilege to see a great many normal physiologic births - with no or minimal interventions - principally using birthing pools and acupuncture.
My many years of close contact with these wonderful midwives has been the inspiration for my desire to help women have the birth they know they are capable of.
Please follow these links to the fuller descriptions of my obstetric work:
I have been using acupuncture during labour all through my career and have evolved to being one of the senior lecturers, internationally, on this subject.
I have been a long-term member of the Acupuncture for Childbirth Team, since it's inseption in 2000, and then helped to set up and chaired ACT London from 2006-2014. As an acupuncturist my involvement in Childbirth has been at the centre of my career every step of the way.
When I am asked to Doula for a couple, I always offer the option to have acupuncture during labour.
Most women are very keen to have this extra option in their toolkit, as there are times when the acupuncture can be beneficial to helping avoid western interventions such as epidural, or syntosinon (the induction drip used to help augment slow contractions). I will always bring my acu-kit to the labour, even if a mom doesn't think she wants acupuncture, I always have it to hand just in case!
promoting effacement (when the cervix is still too 'long' or thick)
augmenting slow contractions (building up a better more frequent rate of contractions)
augmenting weak or short contractions (helping to bring greater strength to each contraction)
helping to swivel babies who may be in a transverse (sideways) or occipital (back to back) position
supplementing mother's (and dads!) energy when tiredness and exhaustion may creep in
calming mother when there is anxiety
helping to ground mother when there is distraction / lack of focus (usually from tiredness) inhibiting productive labour
strengthening energy for greater push power during 2nd stage
helping expel retained placenta
treating shock (sometimes in a fast labour, or in an unexpected situation mothers become highly/overly adrealised)
augmenting pain relief with acupuncture anaesthesia during stiches
any post partum acupuncture, as appropriate, to harmonise and ground the mother for a seamless transition out of labour and into motherhood
I have been a member of Doula UK, having completed their recognition programme, and I maintain ongoing CPD (Continuing Professional Development) to ensure that my skills and knowlege are always up to date. I have been attending labour as a birth attendant since 2000, and formalised my Doula recognition in 2006.
I did my Doula training with Michel Odent, and what a truly inspiring experience to learn wisdoms of birthing from this very great 'Grandfather' of normal physiologic birthing. Michel was already in his late 80's when I had the opprotunity to sit at his feet, to feel his immense presence of peace and benevolence, and best of all to sing with him! This training was a true highlight of my learning career.
My other great inspiration and teacher was Sheila Kitzinger, our 'Grandmother' of Keeping Birth Normal. I trained directly with Sheila and for the last 12 years have manned the phones for the Birth Crisis Helpline. This has been an invaluable part of my learning, hearing difficult stories from all across the country. This training and experience is a huge part of my inspiration to help support couples to have the birth experience they need and want.
The other significant learning in my obstetric lexicon is the hundreds and hundreds of birth stories that I have shared with, and learned from, with my many colleagues in the 10 regional Teams of ACT, the Acupuncture for Childbirth Team. Our CPD is steeped in shared clinical experience, and our education programme is thoroughly integrative, meaning many of our teachers are Western practitioners, doctors, midwives, physios, plus many lectures with birth supporters from across the whole spectrum from yoga teachers to osteopaths to hypnobirthers to nutritionists... I have clocked many hundreds of hours of obstetric education in the 16 years of being part of this Team.
I am a member of an International forum for Obstetrical Chinese Medicine and have the immense privilege to work alongside the great teachers in our profession, noteably Debra Betts, Sarah Budd, Claudia Citcovitz and Laura Erlich.
In September 2017 I will be attending the Ina May Gaskin 'Midwifery Assistant' course (see me twirl with delighted excitement to finally have the chance to learn with one of my greatest inspirations), where I will have the opportunity to extend my doula skills to a whole new level. Thrilled!
My obstetric education has been, and is ever ongoing, a 360 degree exposure for care in pregnancy, childbirth and recovery.
As a Doula I am here to provide a bespoke service that is tailored to supporting your birth wishes and expectations. My many years experience is at your disposal, to negotiate the sometimes confusing and sometimes scary world of birth preparation, to help you find the avenues and support you wish for, to have the birth you feel is right for you.
The Brass Tacks
Please feel free to ring for an informal chat - the doula relationship is based on a sense of trust and kinship. I'm always happy to take time to have a good ol' natter and give you time to feel if this is the right resonance for you.
If you are happy to consider me as your doula, our first port of call is to then meet with you both for an informal chat and to suss if the chemistry feels right. I like to invite you to come over and have a cup of tea with me here in my home, the best place for you to resonate to how my energy feels for you and to feel if this is a good match for you.
I always ask that you then step away from our meeting and have a chance to chat with each other. It needs to feel right for you both, this is one of the most special and intimate moments of your life, and you need to feel that the right balance is there to support and care for you, both of you.
I am super chilled about you being able to call back and express that this is not quite right. The most important thing is that you find the right doula for you. I am very happy to recommend other colleagues in the area.
Should you wish to proceed I will then happily offer you my contract for consideration.
Prices on request
Fees negotiable according to a sliding scale of earnings