Life as a birth keeper

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Journey

A few years ago, at the start of my doula journey, as part of my doula 'apprenticeship', I registered my interest in doing the breastfeeding peer supporters' course run by my local community trust.  Lots doulas do this; the other supporters are usually mums who have had support in their breastfeeding journeys and felt moved to give something back.  There was no indication of when the course would run again, as I had just missed one by a hair's breadth.  It was a 10 week course, over 5 months, and my obligation at the end of it was to volunteer in the drop-in clinics for a six month period.

A year went by.  I supported mums before, during and after birth. No postnatal job went by without a question about breastfeeding and nappies, input and output.  I talked to couples about the 'golden hour' after birth and its importance for the start of the nurturing relationship.  I realised that, although I had fed five babies of my own, and done a brilliant doula course given by a passionate advocate of breastfeeding, this was still my weak area, the part I couldn't talk confidently about, the part of doula-ing which seemed to scramble my brain and tie my thoughts up in knots.  I knew that I needed to strengthen my knowledge, but I was beginning to dread the course and the clinics.  Breastfeeding, to me, was a jumble of memories of conflicting feelings and struggle, overwhelming joy once, but mainly struggle.

During one of those times in life when you wonder if you're on the right path at all, when I was considering tearing down my doula website and jacking it all in, in the dismal dark and cold of mid-February, the call came.  There was a course starting in the next few weeks. Was I still interested?

No, I wasn't.  I was scared.  I dreaded the clinic work which was my obligation after the course.  I imagined the tears, pain, frustration...being the person to support women through that...why would I want to put myself through this?

So against everything my head was saying, my heart said yes, so I did it anyway.

Here's how I got on.

These helplines are available if you need to speak to a breastfeeding counsellor in the UK:

ABM 0300 330 5453
NBFH 0300 100 0212 
NCT  0300 3300 771
LLL 0845 120 2918
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