So we know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from us! It’s been too long and we’ve missed you! As more restrictions were brought in, we found ourselves inundated which meant we were working in survival mode – just trying to meet the needs of our incredible community. We’re finally starting to find our feet again and are looking forward to keeping you updated once again.
What we’ve been working on
What haven’t we been working on?! As you may remember, in May we received funding from The National Lottery Community Fund to support our COVID-19 response. This has looked like: lots of powerful holding space sessions, supporting wise women through our birth doula support, creating a new offering of virtual birth doula support, birth trauma recovery sessions, and lots (and LOTS) of community groups – all over zoom (for the time being).
What we’ve been up to
Lori: I’ve been channeling my stress into rearranging our flat – a coping mechanism that started in my teens that’s never left! Creating a “me only” space where I can work, read, meditate, play my piano, hide from the children… Theo and Felix are loving our new family bedroom but single handedly taking down and rebuilding their bunk bed left me very sore for a few days. Oh and we got kittens!!
Elle: I’ve been playing Watch Dogs 2 on PS4, specifically to beat Az from the Ice Shack to get all the trophies first. But the writing is very small, and I don’t make a good criminal so I may concede this win.
Amy: I moved into a new flat with my sister, Katy, and drove my van on the real roads in the process which was sooo much fun! I’ve been adjusting to life with a very energetic kitten (the kitten came free with the sister) – I’m not adjusted yet.
If you’re local and missing Ice Shack as much as we are, you can still get deliveries by messaging through their facebook page! Berry vanilla cake anyone?
Quickfire questions for the doulas
What has been your favourite thing about lockdown?
L: Being able to work in my pjs!
A: The quiet roads! I’ve still been driving to work at the studio the whole time so I got to enjoy the peaceful traffic-free roads for a while.
E: Finding my health and strength
Describe yourself as a teenager in 3 words.
A: Angry but quiet (you wouldn’t have known I was angry, which is definitely not a good thing – this is why I’m enjoying Rage Becomes Her so much!)
E: Emo. Masculine. Insular.
L: Vulnerable, sensitive and shy.
What are you most looking forward to doing as restrictions ease?
E: Going on holiday.
L: Celebrating my birthday 🎉 I normally shy away from anything where I’m the focus. But I’ve been through hell over the last few years and I’m turning 30 so I’m hoping to do something special for a change.
A: Getting the materials I need for my van conversion so I can go on some trips. And getting to hang out with you two again!
What’s coming up?
Have you heard about our Wild Women Rising Circle with Dance Like a Mother? We’ll be gathering this Friday at 7.45pm so be sure to get your tickets.
We’ll be gathering together to share experiences and hold space for one another. There will be the opportunity to ask us, and each other, any questions you may have surrounding birth and motherhood, and the option of joining us for a relaxing meditation to close the circle. Come as you are, there’s no expectation from us for you to share if you don’t want to, you’re more than welcome to just be present.
We hope you are hanging in there and we can’t wait to start seeing you all in person again soon.
Lori, Elle & Amy x
This week started off on an incredible high with the news that we are being awarded almost £12,000 in National Lottery Funding for our COVID-19 response project.
This is going to make a significant difference to women in our community and means that we can confidently offer fully funded support to any woman who wants and needs it.
Why have a COVID-19 response project?
It quickly became clear that pregnant women and new mothers are being hugely affected by the new measures put in place due to the pandemic. This includes restrictions imposed by individual Trusts, inconsistently and without first exhausting alternatives, in direct opposition to guidance from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. There are also many doulas who are not able to provide their services to women in our community, and as a result, we have experienced an increase in the number of women asking for our support.
Women have the right to choose where to give birth and with whom, but those options are rapidly being taken away from them or made completely inaccessible, making women believe that they no longer have a choice. Women, now more than ever, need personalised emotional and informational support whilst navigating the maternity services in the state that they are currently in.
Women who report birth trauma are most often not talking about the physical birth process, but the way they were treated during labour and birth. During the COVID-19 pandemic so far we have already witnessed the stripping away of women’s options for labour and birth, and women are fearful of the consequences of the restrictions put in place.
During this pandemic, women are likely to be and are already being subjected to human rights violations and unnecessary interventions under coercion – leading to an increased risk of traumatic birth experiences. There is also the added risk associated with isolation of new mothers, whilst being separated from their friends and family who would ordinarily be part of her support system. These two things will lead to an increase in postnatal depression and PTSD which will have a long term impact on the overall well-being of both the woman and her baby.
What are you planning on doing?
This funding will be used to deliver one-to-one support sessions and community groups via video chat, for women planning their birth during the pandemic and women who are facing or who have experienced birth trauma as a result of COVID-19. We will be facilitating community groups, and providing Holding Space sessions and birth doula support (both face to face and virtually), free of charge for any woman who cannot afford to pay.
We aim to create a safe space for women to access emotional and informational support and to help them feel less isolated and more supported and empowered in their birth choices. We will help women to navigate the new restrictions within maternity services and support them emotionally through unexpected changes to their birth plans. This will extend to virtual support during labour and birth for women with additional vulnerabilities. For women who are facing the trauma of birthing alone because of COVID-19 restrictions, we will provide in-person physical, practical and emotional support throughout their labour and birth.
We are sending all our thanks to National Lottery players and The National Lottery Community Fund for recognising the importance of our work. It has been a much needed boost being awarded funding during a time that is scary and uncertain for both women and small organisations like ourselves. We hope you are as excited as we are that we will be able to continue to support women, even during a global pandemic!
If you are a woman who could benefit from this project please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.
Lori, Elle & Amy
Happy humpday (although every day is feeling like humpday these days!) How are you doing? Lockdown life has us all trying to function in strange and uncertain times and it’s ok to be coping however you need to. Whether you are throwing yourself into sourdough starters and banana bread baking or crying at various intervals and wearing pjs 24/7, you’re doing great!!
What have we been up to?
Lori: I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather over the last week so I’ve been prioritising self care in and amongst my usual day to day responsibilities. Netflix in the bath, early nights, staying hydrated and listening to what my body and soul need. I’ve also started reading a new book: “Everything Below the Waist: Why Healthcare Needs a Feminist Revolution” by Jennifer Block. We’ve had this book for a while but I’ve finally managed to create the space for reading regularly! What are you reading at the moment?
Amy: I finished watching Money Heist so I’m grieving that. I’ve mostly just been at the studio! I cooked quesadillas for the first time – they were really nice. And I cooked a butternut squash and lentil curry, but have decided that peeling and cutting a butternut squash is a full workout and I’m never doing it again. The curry was nice though.
She has also managed to squeeze in some kitten-sitting and we were all very jealous!
Elle: Organised my yarn, made my first sourdough, got my monthly migraine, completed Control. Not much to report!
Questions for the doulas: This or That edition!
Day or Night?
Cat or Dog?
A: Cat…That’s too difficult – I love them both in different moments.
L: I’m so indecisive, I want to say both! Dog if my only responsibility was to have cuddles. Otherwise cat.
Tea or Coffee?
L: Coffee, coffee, coffeeeee!
A: If I’m sad it’s tea all the way. Ahh I love them both (again)
Sun or Moon?
L: Always the moon. I love her. But also, if she’d let me have a decent sleep this week I’d really appreciate it.
A: I’m a bit obsessed with the moon recently!
Early Bird or Night Owl?
A: Probably night owl
L: Early bird. I love it when I’m up before the kids and I get to sit in my sunny living room with a brew, listening to the birds.
What we’ve been working on
This week is UK Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week so we’ve been joining in with the campaign, creating and sharing posts on social media. We’ll be doing a facebook live later this week where we’ll be discussing all things maternal mental health so keep an eye out for that.
We’ve also been spreading the word about the support we offer, in particular our Holding Space service. Social distancing measures and ever-changing policies within maternity services have left women facing more challenges, in precarious situations, and without their usual support networks. We are here to support you however we can.
We had some great news this week that we were granted some additional funding from Tesco to support our communities through this pandemic. This means that we are still able to continue to offer funded Holding Space sessions to any woman who could not afford it otherwise.
Funding is still a challenge however and if you are able to donate anything, it would be very much appreciate and will help to support women in difficult situations. Our Aviva crowdfunding project is still live and accepting donations. Reaching our target and being able to access this money will make a huge difference to women in our community so please keep sharing in your circles.
What’s coming up?
We’ll be doing a Facebook Live later this week about Maternal Mental Health so follow our page for updates about that.
We also have some availability for Holding Space sessions so please get in touch if you would like to book a session. It doesn’t have to be birth related. You don’t have to be a mother. We’re here for any woman who would like our support.
Have a wonderful rest of the week.
Lots of love
Lori, Amy & Elle x
Today is the International Day of the Midwife 2020. Whilst we are not midwives, our roles often sit side by side and our missions closely aligned. We wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate midwives around the world whose life work is to truly be ‘with woman’.
In a world where women live and birth within patriarchal institutions and normal, physiological birth is unnecessarily pathologised, traditional midwives can play such an important role. Their knowledge and wisdom is a much needed reminder that industrial birth is not our only option. They are a wonderful support that women can look to on their journeys to powerful, ecstatic births.
Today we celebrate and hold space for midwives who are choosing to create new paradigms, rather than engage in futile fights with broken systems. Heart led midwives who serve the woman above all else. Protectors of physiological birth. Birth keepers who trust women all the way, and know in their hearts that we are the ultimate knowledge when it comes to our own bodies and babies. In particular we hold those midwives who have been persecuted for believing in women and providing women-centred care despite the risk to themselves. Thank you.
Sending you all so much love and respect!
Lori, Elle & Amy x
It’s definitely a weekday, but we can’t be more specific at this point! We hope you are coping, and that you know you can always reach out to us. We are only a text away.
What we’ve been up to
Amy has been extremely busy in the studio, fulfilling orders at Clara and Macy. They are Christmas-level busy, but without any of the prep that they usually do year round.
As well as that she’s still running her Meetup group, and of course being a badass doula with us.
Lori has been doing lots of yoga and reading this week.
She’s “eating more biscuits than any human should”, her laundry basket is empty , and has dyed her kids hair (on purpose) and house (by accident).
Elle is getting into the world of podcasts. Two of the stars of Scrubs have started a twice weekly podcast about making the show, and she’s lapping it up. Every episode is soon to be on All 4 – watch-along anyone?
Her unbuzzed hair is now comically long and is crocheting herself a hat.
It was our birthday this week! We had drinks, got frocked up and had a Zoom party. You can watch it here (it’s long and rambling!)
We are so proud to have been here for two years, responding to the needs of the community, growing as an organisation, and learning just how much we can do when we need to! We have developed new skills and new ways of working, and we hope we always will.
Thank you for supporting us and building our village with us.
Quick questions for the doulas (by Ember)
What’s your favourite breakfast food?
L: Vegan fry up or leftover curry
E: Defo vegan fry up, but at the moment I’m on a health kick and it’s porridge and seeds with fruit every day.
What are you watching in lockdown?
L: Killing Eve, Gangs of London and everything on Disney+
E: The Comeback (Lisa Kudrow is more talented than I ever knew!) and Devs.
A: Just finished Season 2 of Money Heist and it was AMAZING.
What do you like to sit on?
L: On the beach somewhere sunny These days my armchair with my feet up will do.
E: Those therapy chairs where you can lean forward and rest your arms and legs. Don’t know what they’re called but they feel good!
A: The floor, usually!
What we’ve been working on
We have been busy busy busy! Enquiries have gone up over 65% since lockdown, and we are doing everything we can to meet the needs of local women. This means being even more flexible in our approach, and applying for lots more funding. It’s more important than ever that we are able to provide emotional support at low to no cost, as barriers to this are mounting.
We have extended our funding deadline with Aviva, which you can donate to here. We are hoping this extra time will allow us to reach our target and unlock the donations we have received so far.
What’s coming up
We are excited for the release of Dr Jess Taylor’s new book, ‘Why Women are Blamed for Everything’:
‘Based on three years of doctoral research and ten years of practice with women and girls, Dr Jessica Taylor explores the many reasons we blame women for male violence committed against them. Written in her unique style and backed up by decades of evidence, this book exposes the powerful forces in society and individual psychology which compel us to blame women subjected to male violence.’
Every weekend we are taking it in turns to choose a different workout video. We set up our phones and put YouTube on another screen, to cheer each other on (and secretly laugh). The videos we are choosing from are free, and if you’d like to join us (cameras on or not!) you are most welcome. 11am Saturday we’ll be attempting this one and we’ll nudge on FB beforehand too. In previous weeks we’ve tried Zumba, and Bhangracise. What other suggestions do you have?
We are working on some new fundraising ideas and hope to have more news on that next week. In the meantime, you know where we are, and don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Much love and stay safe,
Elle, Amy &
Hello everyone! How are you? We hope that you’re taking every day as it comes and being kind to yourselves. We know that during lockdown it’s difficult to balance working from home, childcare and trying to have some time to yourself when your movement is limited. So if all you achieved today was getting dressed – you’re smashing it! And if you didn’t, that’s fine too – you had a PJ day and we hope you loved every second of it.
What we’ve been up to
Elle got the last bag of flour in Aldi today after the shelves being empty for weeks, and Rosie just ate the whole thing! (Rosie is one of Elle’s dogs, in case you’re a newcomer)
Lori has been busy! She went to an amazing birth last week, and she and Amy have been doing some postnatal visits. Today she took her boys for a picnic at wood school where they are able to book in slots to hang out in nature whilst nobody else is there – such a good idea.
Amy got wolf-whistled at this morning and wrote an angry blog post about it. After calming down, she plucked up the courage to turn her van around in her little car park for the first time since the day she bought it! She’s super proud of herself.
Quick questions for the doulas
Have you ever slept outside? Where/why?
E: Sleeping outside is the best. I’ve slept outside in the desert, the forest, and once, on a roof.
L: Does sleeping in a tent count? I like my home comforts… I’ve been glamping in Norfolk and Ormskirk!
A: I love sleeping outside, my two favourite times: in a hammock by a lake in Vietnam, and on a brownie camp a few years ago (as a leader, not a brownie) we slept on mattresses that we dragged outside!
What’s the most recent thing you bought online?
L: An embroidery hoop kit. I’m going to journal 2020 in stitches!
A: Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez – I’m enjoying it so far!
E: Dog treats. I have to give my dogs a treat for having a wee outside before I go to bed, or they won’t do it. They have me well trained.
If you were to get a(nother) tattoo, what would it be and where on your body?
A: I have a design of a stack of books turning into flying birds, which I wanted on my side but I’m too short, my side doesn’t have enough space! So I’ll have to rethink it.
E: I have a mandala on my thigh that isn’t finished. I didn’t notice until someone else pointed it out months later. I would like to get the missing bits done!
L: Too many ideas to choose just one! I’m feeling very connected to the cycle of the moon right now so maybe something relating to that. On my wrist or the back of my arm 🌒
What we’ve been working on
We are now successfully hosting all of our existing community support groups online via Zoom and it’s feeling more and more natural (without being too nervous or sweating too much…but still a little bit). These include Wild Mothering Circle, Women Reclaiming Birth, a homebirth support group, a freebirth support group and a birth worker’s circle! To stay up to date with any or all of these groups, you can join our ‘Wild Women Rising’ Facebook group. We’d love to see you there!
Previously we had set up a Crowdfunder page with Aviva to raise funds for our Wild Girls Rising project. We are still working on this project but it is based on face-to-face girls circles so we have postponed it for now. Instead, we decided to change the Crowdfunder page to go towards supporting women in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to continue supporting women during pregnancy who may be struggling to navigate the maternity services at the moment, or who have maybe suffered trauma because of the pandemic. We also want to offer this support to women who are isolated for any other reason at this time and are in need of support or just someone to talk to. We have already seen a huge increase in the need for this kind of support, so we’re keen to be able to support as many women as we can.
We have until Tuesday 21st (only 2 days away) to hit our target, otherwise, we don’t get any of the money pledged so far! So, if you are able to pledge anything towards our goal, it will go towards supporting women in Greater Manchester and further afield (the benefits of working online!).
To pledge, or just to read a bit more about our project, click here!
Have a great week!
Amy, Lori & Elle x
First of all, you’re an absolute wanker.
Here’s how it went from my point of view, in case you give a shit;
I went outside to put my cardboard recycling in the blue bin, as soon as I opened my door there you both were, hanging out of your car and staring at me like fucking vultures. I know we’re in lockdown and you probably haven’t seen another person for weeks, but that is not an excuse. I’m instantly uncomfortable and have put my defences up in case you decide you need more than just something to look at. I put my cardboard in the bin and walked back around to my front door, which is when you decided to wolf-whistle at me.
Here is why I don’t appreciate your staring and wolf-whistling;
I am not an object for you to gawp at just because you have fuck-all better to do with your time. You intimidate me by staring like that – which is probably what gives you a little buzz. Wolf-whistling is NOT a compliment, it does NOT make me feel all warm and fuzzy because, believe it or not (and I know this is a tough one to comprehend), I get my worth from me, NOT from twats like you.
Now, let me explain to you the effect that your actions have;
I hurried back inside and slammed the door, I hoped that it would show you that I was angry because I couldn’t put it into words to say to you, but in reality, you probably just thought it was funny. My heart is hammering, not because you wooed me with your charms contrary to what you think, but because you made me feel intimidated, scared and angry. I had another bag of recycling to take out, but that will have to wait now because the last thing I want to do is go back outside and be objectified AGAIN. So I’m hiding in my flat, full of rage. Is that what you expected to happen? Is that what you wanted to happen? Did you think of how I might feel before you acted? Did you fuck. You are a disgusting human. You can’t possibly comprehend the horrible effect your actions have on women, so I have no doubt that you’ll continue to do it, thinking it’s completely harmless. The sad thing is that you were probably looking for a reaction, and if I’d have said all of this to your face, you would have laughed it off and ignored it. I didn’t say anything, but even if I had the outcome probably would have been the same – you’d still be an ignorant man.
If you take anything from what I write (which I’m sure you won’t because you’re probably not the one reading this), let it be this;
I do not exist to be objectified by you
I do not want or need your whistles of “approval”
Your actions have consequences
Stop being a misogynistic twat
(the human being whose feelings you couldn’t give a fuck about, but whose ass you clearly took a fancy to)
How is everyone doing? Lately we’ve seen so many people respond with how productive, or unproductive, they have been. But really, how are you? You are not the stuff you achieve – or don’t – you are a person, surviving an unprecedented period in history, and it’s okay to feel however you’re feeling, and to talk about it.
What – and how – we have be doing
Elle: I have developed a rigid daily structure, and have discovered life feels more manageable under lockdown. I’ve found a balance between all the aspects and roles of my life for the first time, and I suspect I will miss this when it’s over.
Lori: I have surrendered to not being able to balance it all! Developing new, creative ways to support women and single handedly mothering two high needs children are in themselves full time jobs. I’m trying to use this time to practise radical self care – resting when I need to rest, crying when I need to cry, reminding myself that whatever I am able to give to my children and my business is enough, and focusing on our basic needs. Oh and I’m loving working in such comfort! I never thought I’d be doing Zoom calls with clients in my pjs…
Amy: I have found it tricky to figure out working for Clara and Macy from home/at the studio in isolation (especially because we’re weirdly really busy right now!!), and for adapting how GMD is functioning, but it feels like it’s coming together now. I live alone so I’m finding the lockdown pretty difficult mentally, my anxiety is on a high and I’m definitely having more down days than usual – I’ve also realised that I really am a hug person and now I’m having hug withdrawal symptoms! A positive – the local wildlife seems to be thriving without humans everywhere! Something people should remember – don’t judge others, everyone’s necessities are different and people will be missing different things. Just be understanding!
Collectively, we have been supporting the many pregnant women who have been directly affected by the pandemic. Our mission to defend women’s human rights, provide holistic support and accessible education, and to build sisterhood between women has never been more relevant, and we are extremely glad to be here to support women through this.
Our virtual support is available in private 1:1s (well, 3:1s!), and we are making videos on subjects suggested by women whose birth plans have been upended by the virus.
If there is a subject you’d like to see covered (or covered in more detail, please get in touch.
FiLiA asked us to make a podcast on what’s currently happening in maternity regarding women’s rights and options, and we were happy to oblige.
Quick fire questions
In World Doula Week we faced our fears, and finally started doing live videos! So far we have discovered what’s in our doula bags, what’s not in our doula bags, how to mentally prepare for birth, freebirth, and a live version of our quick fire questions!
What we need help with
We are currently writing to potential funders, and funders who have already contributed toward projects we are now unable to run, so many things are up in the air.
The best way to help us at the moment is to add us as your local cause with the Co-op, and to donate to our ko-fi fund if you are able. Every penny will go directly to supporting women in our community, and beyond.
What’s going on online for free?
Please don’t forget it’s okay to slow down during this time – it’s enough to “do” nowt and to survive.
The networks you’ve been relying on for support might be missing from your life temporarily, or you may be having to access them in an unfamiliar way, for example by Zoom. This might take some getting used to, but research shows all the same places of our brains light up when we talk to someone by video and in person.
We were all nervous about moving from face to face meets to video calls and it felt so weird at first! We got used to it surprisingly quickly though and it’s nice to be able to connect with others from the comfort of our homes. Whether you’re in your pjs, haven’t touched your hair, or are joining from your bed, you’re welcome! Just come as you are.
If you need some help with getting online, we are happy to help. Connecting to our sisters has never been so important!
We hope to see you online soon.
Elle, Amy & Lori x
Oh how much our worlds have changed in the last couple of weeks! How are you all doing? Elle, Amy and I are now working from our respective homes, learning how to continue to support women from a distance and keep our community connected.
We are still here and more passionate than ever about supporting you however we can. Whether you are looking for birth doula support, want to join our community groups or just need a chat with women who will listen, we’re here for you.
Like many other women, I am trying to balance work life with mothering my stir crazy babes and managing the household (which gets messy so quickly with us all here 24/7!), it’s hard work! Colouring in has been one activity that has helped to keep us somewhat sane, so I thought I would create a little collection of GMD illustrations to colour in.
For grown ups and babes alike, I hope it adds a little more colour into your week during this uncertain time. There are no strings attached and it’s completely free to download. If you do want to give back though, here are some ways you can support our little women-centred biz:
- Donate to our crowdfunder.
- Buy us a ko-fi.
- Follow us on social media – like, share and comment on our posts.
- Write us a testimonial on facebook and google.
- Make us your chosen cause with The Co-operative.