I was living in Maine in the U.S. when I became pregnant with my first child. Returning to England was not an option. I was very nervous of the American medical system and had no health insurance. I discovered the Wiscasset birthing centre run by independent midwives. As near as possible to a home birth in a wonderful large house. Attendance at natural ante natal classes and preparation for absolutely no intervention during the birth. Looking back the only missing link was a "doula' type person. The midwives were great but… the father was not a huge support and I had the feeling something was missing.
Following the birth with no family around I was helped, mothered "doulaed" by a woman my mother's age, Pat who just stepped in with emotional spiritual and practical support. The sort of person it would have been great to have at the birth.
My second child was born at the Hammersmith hospital, after a stillborn labour there. Lovely practical West Indian midwifes. I felt supported but really missed Pat before during and after.
I have loved every minute of being a mother and changed career direction to work with children and families.I trained with Montessori age 0–6, with La Leche League as a breastfeeding counsellor, as a Yoga teacher and recently, as a birth doula. I have run Montessori Nursery schools, nannied, had a company with a midwife and parenting skills facilitator called Fairy Grandmothers, supporting new mothers and run Arts based holiday clubs and enjoyed teaching Yoga to children and older people.
Sylvie and I recently attended the Paramadoula course with Dr. Michel Odent and Lilliana Lammers and both feel this is our obvious next step. To support women who may not have their own mothers around or rather not have them around.
I was born and educated in Paris. In my early twenties, I moved to London, where I met my husband. I have lived here ever since.
My interest in childbirth began when I became pregnant for the first time. I started reading Sheila Kitzinger and developing ideals of what my labour would be like… Sadly, the reality – pethidine and an episiotomy – was shockingly different.
Four years later, following a series of miscarriages, I was delighted to give birth to daughter number two – in two hours, with no pain relief and an audience of 15 medical students…
I am now a grandmother, and having assisted my daughter at the birth of both her babies, I know how important it is for a pregnant woman to have an advocate and friend in the labour room – someone who will respect and follow her wishes and be there for her.
I am about to retire from my job as headteacher of a nursery school. My teaching career has been extremely rewarding and the relationships I have formed with parents, children and colleagues have given me huge pleasure. The most important aspect of my work was developing strong, positive and respectful relationships with the people I worked with, whilst creating an atmosphere where well being was key.
My aim as a doula is to apply my knowledge of people, relationships and the importance of love to help mothers have the best experience at the most important time in their lives.
Molly has been a midwife for almost 20 years. She is a mother and grandmother living between a house by the sea in Brittany and a boat on the Norfolk Broads, both lovingly restored by her multitalented husband.
She retired from full time midwifery last year so she could focus on giving expectant parents access to the best available evidence based Birth Preparation classes and to teach Hypnobirthing courses. She also shares her expertise and experience with student midwives in her work as an associate lecturer at the UEA. Molly continues to practice as a midwife, working part time on a midwife led Birth unit.
She has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge relating to pregnancy, birth and motherhood. This eagerness to learn leads her to attend an endless variety of conferences, workshops and study days and her bookshelves creak heavily with pregnancy and birth related books. Her long suffering and patient husband of 39 years happily builds more bookcases when the need arises!
Paula began her career in caring when she left home to move to the Shetland Islands alone at the age of 16. There she served as an Auxiliary Nurse at The Gilbert Bain Hospital on the medical ward, working closely with emergency services at sea and on the islands. In 1994 Paula moved to South Africa during the last days of the Apartheid regime. There she worked at Pollsmoor Women’s Prison, teaching life skills and as a motivational speaker for the female, black, prison population. While in South Africa, she also worked in schools for children with drug and alcohol-related disabilities.
After returning to the UK Paula again returned to childcare but also to care of those with mental health disabilities, the elderly and the terminally ill. Whilst living in Cambridge, Paula operated her own treatment rooms offering conventional as well as holistic treatments including massage and Theta Healing. Paula qualified as a Doula 5 years ago when her own children were 17 and 19 and have found this a rewarding and beautiful calling on a par with any other she has experienced at any point in her career. She sees it as vital support for parents at an incredibly important time.
“Looking back at the birth of my second child because my Mother had passed away since my first child, I felt alone and unsupported. Having someone who is calm, non-judgmental and only interested in helping you to have the best pregnancy and birth possible is what I believe every parent should have access to. This is why I became a Doula, to support each parents individuality in their pregnancy in order that they receive life's greatest gift. To be a parent.”
Claudia Goulder is a Tavistock trained Child & Adolescent psychotherapist registered with the ACP (Association of Child Psychotherapists). She worked for six years in Watford Child & Family Clinic (an NHS mental health setting) where she ran groups and individual regular psychotherapy sessions for young people and their families in the midst of emotional turmoil or breakdown. She later joined the Perinatal Team at Chelsea & Westminster hospital where she worked closely with midwives, psychiatrists and parent-infant therapists to see new and expectant parents through the challenging early stages of parenthood. Her treatment would take the form of regular sessions involving mother, baby and father or other family members where appropriate. Her approach to mental health is holistic and although her background is very traditionally rooted in psychoanalysis, the connection between mind and body is always at the forefront of her thinking. She left the team after falling pregnant with twins, who for the time being are keeping her busy at home.
Heather MacDonald is a Physician Associate (PA), trained in the U.S.A. and recently moved to the U.K. with her dual USA / UK citizenship. She graduated and received a Masters of Science in PA Studies in 2008 and since has worked in Florida, New York City and currently London. Her primary work experience is in General Pediatrics, with a passion and expertise in Mother/Newborn and infant care. She has also worked in General Outpatient Pediatrics (clinic), Pediatric Surgery and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. She is very enthusiastic about teaching and has taught breastfeeding with lactation consultants in the hospital setting as well as Baby & Child CPR classes for families and caretakers.
Jackie Lynch is a Registered Nutritional Therapist and highly experienced clinician with a particular interest in women’s health. Her WellWellWell clinic is based in Notting Hill, London. As well as her clinical work, Jackie is the Nutritional Therapist for the Mail on Sunday and has a regular column in Reveal Magazine. Her book The Right Bite is a practical guide to making smart food and drink choices when you’re out and about. Jackie is also the Chair of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, the renowned training provider for nutritional therapy in the UK.