What is a birth doula?
The word doula comes from the ancient Greek meaning 'a woman who serves'. Asa doula, I support women emotionally and physically before, during and afterbirth, enabling them to have the most satisfying and empowering experience of giving birth that is possible, given the circumstances on the day. In essence, a doula believes in ‘mothering the mother’, offering continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect throughout this rite of passage
Why do you think they are so important?
Birth is sacred and women supporting women through labour is an ageless tradition common to all cultures. Traditionally, labouring women were surrounded by family members and experienced women from their community. As child birth became the domain of the medical profession and women moved into hospitals for birth, women lost their essential connection to one another during this time of intense physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual work. Doulas therefore provide the continuity of care which women once had and that is sadly lacking in our medical system today. Unless you hire Independent Midwives [imuk.org.uk]or have a home birth with a dedicated home birth team, you will see any number of midwives during your pregnancy and are unlikely to have met the midwives who attend your labour. I strongly believe that women should feel fully supported and nurtured during this rite of passage and it is through hiring a doula that you can feel this kind of individual care from early pregnancy right through to early motherhood
Where can pregnant mamas find the right type of information?
If you’re looking for a birth doula in the UK then head to www.doula.org.uk I’d recommend speaking to a few doulas to see who you connect with the most and who makes you feel most relaxed and at ease as it’s this kind of energy that you want in your birth room to create a calm and safe atmosphere for a smooth birth experience. You’d then meet your doula a number of times during pregnancy so that you get to know each other and she can understand your birth preferences, your wishes and any concerns, and also support you with lots of information so that to can make informed choices. Your doula will then be with you throughout your labour(starting at home if you’re planning a hospital birth) and in the early hours post birth, as well as a visit a week after to offer new born support and talk through your birth experience
How can pregnancy yoga help the body prepare?
Yoga is a wonderful support for pregnancy. Taking time to slow down and tune in with your body’s needs can help ease any discomfort and give you the gift of a smoother and more enjoyable pregnancy. Practicing yoga during pregnancy encourages a sense of space, relaxation and confidence throughout this special time and helps develop a strong bond between you the little resident in your tummy. It’s helpful to build trust in your body during pregnancy, and befriend any sensations, feelings and thoughts just as you’ll have to do in labour
What specifically is a great support to pregnant women?
Listening to a Yoga Nidra (guided relaxation) in a side lying savasana with as many pillows as you can find! Giving yourself permission to rest during pregnancy should be a necessity, not a luxury! Listening to a guided relaxation will help down-regulate your nervous system which your baby will benefit from too
Any tips on how a new mother should care for herself?
I love the saying “everyone wants to hold the baby but who’s holding the mother?”. I really encourage my clients to spend some time thinking about how they’d like their postpartum period to look like. This “fourth trimester” can feel like a huge adjustment for a woman navigating early motherhood and healing post birth so it’s essential that she feels supported - whether that’s by a loved one cooking meals, a postpartum doula coming to help around the house so you can feel calm and rested, or you simply giving yourself permission to stay in bed all day having skin-to-skin time with your baby while your other children are being taken care of by a grandparent. If you’re not used to asking for help this is your moment!
Any book recommendations?
My favourite postpartum book is called “The First Forty Days - the essential art of nourishing the new mother” by Heng Ou
What is a good mantra for a mama?
“I trust my instinct. I follow my heart”
If you’re following your heart when it comes to parenting, you can’t go wrong. Even if you make a mistake or decide to change your mind, you will always end up where you need to be when you let your intuition guide you. So often new mothers lose faith in themselves and their ability to mother because they’ve been given too much varying advice from family, friends and endless baby books. Trust that you have all all the wisdom within. You are more tuned in with your baby than anyone else
Any good essential oils to use around this time?
I love using essential oils to support my family physically, mentally and emotionally. For new mothers feeling a little overwhelmed I’d suggest diffusing some “woody” grounding oils such as cedarwood, sandalwood, vetiver and also frankincense - the king of all essentials oils. If you’re feeling low in energy think about the more uplifting essential oils such as ylang ylang, bergamot, grapefruit and lemon. Essential oils are wonderful for postpartum healing and newborn care too (as long as they’re heavily diluted).
To contact Emily for more information on her pregnancy yoga or her doula support please see her details below
Mob:+44 7790 598 551
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