I have lived in Islington, North London since 1986 but I’m originally from the North East of England where the people are friendly, the skies are grey and the kettle is always on….
I found myself pregnant in my early twenties and was lucky to discover the Active Birth Centre where I practised pregnancy yoga and my boyfriend and I attended Janet Balaskas Active Birth Preparation course, both of which I found invaluable. I had planned for a home birth but due to signs of a possible problem when I was going past 42 weeks I was “persuaded” to go into hospital and gave birth to my first baby in 1987. Despite being in hospital I had a very quick, intense labour [started by prostaglandin gel, now I know that I must have been very close to going into labour naturally…] and nice midwives who left us alone as they knew I had planned a home birth. I went further past 42 weeks with my second pregnancy three years later, but with no problems this time so I insisted on waiting and my second son was born at home with just my boyfriend and a lovely midwife which was a truly wonderful experience.
I considered training to be a midwife after giving birth but it wasn't possible for me at the time. I wanted to spend the first few years at home with my children so I became a registered childminder. When my boys were both at school I began to look at other possible work options. I had had an interesting variety of jobs but as I was quite young when I fell pregnant so I didn't exactly have a career. A good friend of mine gave me massages whenever I had injured myself or needed some TLC and I had always been impressed with the power of her treatments. So with great excitement in 1996 I started my massage training, naively thinking I could work around looking after my boys.
After my initial qualification in Anatomy, Physiology and Body Massage I began to explore the world of massage and took various courses in Aromatherapy, Reflexology and Indian Head Massage, searching for something that really appealed to me. I gained qualifications in Sports Massage and began working in gyms and health clubs. At the time I was really into keeping fit, working out in gyms, practising yoga and learning Aikido [a non aggressive martial art for self-defence]. I was really interested in how the body works so I trained in sports massage to gain more diagnostic knowledge which enabled me to assess muscular problems and to effectively treat soft tissue injuries. Even though I no longer offer Sports Massage treatments, the techniques have been very useful over the years, enabling me to work deeply when required and to have a much better understanding of how the muscular structure of the body works. I also trained with The London School of Champissage, [Indian Head Massage as taught by the wonderful Mr & Mrs Mehta who introduced the therapy to the UK in the late 1970s.]
A few years later I began training with Well Mother organisation run by Suzanne Yates, where I rediscovered my passion for pregnancy and birth related care. Suzanne is an inspiring woman, a teacher, author and massage & shiatsu practitioner. I qualified with a Well Mother Diploma in Massage for Pregnancy in 2003 [A.P.N.T], followed by a Well Mother Postnatal Massage course. After treating pregnant and postnatal women for some time, listening to their hopes and fears about giving birth and then hearing about their birth experiences, it made me sad that so many women didn't have positive birth stories. Then I began to think about training as a doula. I had recently heard about doulas and what they do to support women during their pregnancies and births and it really sounded like the job for me. The continuity of being able to support women throughout pregnancy, labour and birth and into the early days of parenting really appealed to me. So I booked myself onto Suzanne’s very first Massage for Labour course in 2006, qualifying in 2008. This is also my doula qualification, followed by many other birth and breastfeeding related courses and workshops over the years.
I am a member of Doula UK, midwifery.org.uk [the association of radical midwives] and AIMS.org.uk a wonderful organisation that has been campaigning for improvements in maternity care for over 50 years, ABM.me.uk who provide free breastfeeding support for new mums and training for peer supporters and health professionals. I'm also involved with Homerton and Whittington Health's MVP - Maternity Voices Partnership
I have never felt so empowered, strong and proud than during and soon after the birth of my babies. I know that all women have this strength and power inside them, we have to undo society’s notion that childbirth is something to be scared of and help women to work with, not against their powerful bodies. Working as a doula puts me in the most privileged position to assist women in finding this instinctive power, finally I had found my calling…
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY, YOU KNOW WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS…