This is the last in my series of guest bloggs from the Pregnant In Brighton team. Here Caroline talks openly about motherhood and being a Doula.
I have always felt one of the great privileges of working with pregnant and new mothers is their openness. As a doula, I meet women who are on a very real journey which can at times be very raw. I see their honesty and trust in me as the most profound compliment but above all I see my role as helping a mother to trust and listen to herself.
The pregnancy, birth and postnatal experience is one so intimate and so personal, no two will ever be the same even with the same mother. Every woman’s history and life journey will affect how she feels as she prepares to give birth and look after a new life. How she cares for herself, how she prepares, how she seeks information and ultimately how she lets go in order to birth will be coloured by who she is, who she wants to be and how she feels about that person.
No doubt hormones can play a big part in antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety but I also believe for any woman the prospect of bringing a new life into the world and being depended on requires a huge leap of faith. Once we had closer family and community to nurture that faith but in recent times I believe women have assumed they have to find that faith on their own and that isolation has certainly contributed to mental health issues for mothers.
The pace of modern life and working really hard means many women become mothers without truly knowing themselves. They may have learned to suppress feelings along the way and when undeniable emotions rise to the surface during pregnancy, birth and afterwards, they may feel overwhelmed. If there isn’t a proper recognition and outlet for emotion, it can turn to despair.
Entering motherhood is one of life’s most tremendous experiences even if it is also every day. As a doula and a mother of three myself, I try to be aware of my own feelings and instincts all the time because if I can’t look after myself, it will impact on my clients and my children. I really encourage mothers to take some time (sometimes even just five minutes of focused time helps) and listen to themselves and their needs. This can be more challenging than it sounds! Anything which helps a mother connect with herself will be positive. Pregnancy is a wonderful time to explore. A baby loves and feels a connection to his or her mother. That is a given. A mother’s self love sometimes needs the attention and nurturing.
Birth & Postnatal Doula