Last year I had my first experience of supporting a woman through birth and I have to say it was truly an honour to do so. This woman was an absolute goddess, there is no other way to describe her! Watching a woman birth a baby was humbling, exciting and a stark reminder of how incredible life is, how delicate it is and how paper thin that veil between powerful birthing goddess and vulnerability.
As a mentored doula, I debrief after each birth; I am so grateful to have a wonderful mentor who is available for me to talk to when I need her. Every experience will be different and there may be aspects of it which as a birth partner, I find difficult to deal with - and it's the responsible thing for me to take time to debrief that, so that I don't take that experience forward to my next birth client, or indeed hold onto it and let it affect my personal life.
Of course, the woman who has just had the birth experience may also need to debrief, so it's good to know that I am in a place to offer that - or signpost onwards if there is a need, which there sometimes is. But I am hugely grateful to my mentor, who has been a rock for me and now I know I am in a great place to support my future clients without any hangups from previous births. It's important as a doula to make sure that you have made your peace with your own birthing experiences too, for the same reason. I find that the Birthing Awareness 3- Step-Rewind process is invaluable here too - what a great tool we have!
It was after having finished some postnatal work with this family that I came home and cried; I realised how raw and vulnerable we can be and this is true here in the postnatal period more than ever. The hormonal shift, the exhaustion, the elation, the new dynamic, the feeding, oh - the feeding! It can leave you in a real haze in those early days just trying to navigate the new normal, no matter whether this is baby number one or baby number ten. Whilst I was with them, I did some washing up, did a bit of laundry, sat and chatted and listened to the mother - it felt very much like I 'just' did a few bits of housework and I 'just' listened, but I realised on my drive home that can be HUGE for some people. It's never 'just' a load of laundry, it's that you're there caring and nurturing this woman: you don't 'just' listen, you HEAR her and this may be the first time she's had these things in a long time, or sometimes ever.
I've said before and will say again that Doulaing was a calling for me: I knew that I needed to do this and share this amazing gift with others. Having that unwavering support antenatally, during birth and in that crucial postnatal period is so nourishing and nurturing that it's necessary in my mind, not just a gift. Speaking of gifts, If you have a baby shower present to buy then maybe consider a postnatal doula voucher? Lots of us offer gift vouchers, or even club together with a few friends and buy a few hours - it's not expensive but can be amazing for a new family to have that support and care and can make such a difference to a family's experience of those early days and the feeding, bonding, nurturing.
This very first experience highlighted what an enormously positive impact we could have on families if we just took the time and mothered the mother for a little bit.
It made me realise that it truly does take a village to raise a child - no, actually not raise a child: raise a family