Peace on Earth Begins at birth!
Whenever and however, you give birth, your experience will impact
on your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit
for the rest of your life.
Ina May Gaskin, midwife and author
Ever since our second daughter Amy arrived spontaneously on the bathroom floor, I have been fascinated by the wonder and marvel of birth. It struck me that day, that my body had done what it was designed to do and that the power of those surges in my body had brought about a birth which I was completely capable of going through without the intervention of pain relief.
What I realised from the experience that morning was that the FEAR of BIRTH had been taken away BECAUSE my body had done it by NATURE, essentially by itself! It was the natural way of things, I had neither planned nor prepared for it to be like that…and my husband Mark will confirm this because he had to sort out the insurance claim on our fresh cream carpets and the white Egyptian cotton gift towel set, all of which had been irreparably damaged and later incinerated!
And I began to wonder what stops us as women, trusting our bodies and believing that we were made to do this!. If you’ll excuse the pun, why is it that the horror stories of birth, the screaming, the sweating, and the suffering of labouring women ‘impregnate’ our minds when we consider the process of giving birth. As we read in Genesis 3, v. 16: “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing – with pain you will give birth to children…”
I think as a Christian, I have also come to view birth from a deep spiritual perspective. I used many Worship tracks to prepare for my birth with Ethan and over time I was able to enter a place of deep relaxation and safety by listening to these songs. In the intimate moments of birth I felt closest to God and after birth, a sense of absolute euphoria – a feeling I can remember to this day. . Perhaps some of you reading this might remember the wonderful preacher Harry Dodd who was the local minister for Hampton as I was growing up in the 1980s. He attended Mark and my wedding in 2003 and said the Grace before we ate our meal together. He later said the following words, which have struck me as poignant to this very day: “May you have days to equal or even excel this one!”. The birth of all our children – Grace, Amy and Ethan have been such days!!
This is behind the reasons that I was inspired to pursue my dream of becoming a Doula, and over the past 18 months I have trained successfully in this role. I initially shadowed an experienced doula but since then I have completed my first assignment.
My area of work is the state of Baden Wurttemberg in South West Germany. We live in a village called Hausen-im-Wiesental which nestles in a valley surrounded by mountains, including the Alps. It is close to both the French and the Swiss border. We attend the Anglican English Church in Basel, Switzerland.
So, what on earth is a doula and why do expectant mothers need one?
The work of a doula cannot be underestimated.
The term ‘doula’ itself originates from the ancient Greek meaning “woman who serves”, female helper or maidservant Today the word doula refers to a professional, trained to provide emotional, physical and informational support to women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. She has often, but not always, given birth to a child or children herself.
The doula knows various techniques that she can practice with the pregnant woman that can help with the birth. Some examples are massage, meditation, visualisation, hypnobirthing, breathing techniques, relaxation techniques and the use of a Rebozo cloth.
A doula stays with the mother throughout the birth and offers aftercare and support with breastfeeding.
However, a doula is not a substitute for a midwife, nor is she allowed to carry out any examinations, contradict the advice of the doctors or interfere in the birthing process should complications arise.
The continuous presence of a doula has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce the length of labour as well as the need for medical intervention.
She allows for greater maternal satisfaction and a better more sustained bonding between mum and baby.
In my work as a doula I am seeking to dispel the attitude that birth can only be experienced through ENDURANCE, PAIN and SUFFERING, as per the verse in Genesis quoted above..
I am determined for women to be the queens of society once more, where they are honoured for their role in re-creation, their bodies, the beautiful sanctuary of new life. I refer you to Psalm 139 – verses 13-16.