If these summarised points feel familiar to you, the chances are that we would be a good fit.
We find that we work best with a woman who:
- views birth as a normal, bodily function and not inherently dangerous
- values herself and knows that she deserves a good birth experience and good support
- is open about what she wants and can vocalise her needs
- understands that having a positive birth is more than just hiring a doula and hoping for the best
- has a healthy dose of scepticism and awareness when it comes to the medicalisation of birth and the way the maternity services treat women
- is only inviting people into her birth space who trust her implicitly and will not obstruct her intuition or her acting on it – this includes partners
There are lots of doulas in Manchester and we all have different ways of working and different values, so it’s okay if the woman we’ve described above is not you, there is definitely a doula out there who will be better suited to your needs. If, however, all or even just some of those things are very much you – keep reading to get more of an idea of how we work.
A good fit is key
We understand the importance of carefully considering who you invite into your birth space. Anyone who attends your birth needs to trust in you, support your every decision and respect your birth space – and this goes for both medical and non-medical people. For a smooth, physiological birth you need to feel safe, unobserved and undisturbed to protect your natural oxytocin high and to allow you to follow your body. Setting the scene so that you can follow your body freely is the key. We all know the phrase ‘dance like nobody’s watching’, and it’s applicable here because you feel much more able to be yourself and go with your flow when you are not being observed, or if you are in the company of people who love you no matter what your dancing looks like.
Do our values align with yours?
Birth is a normal, physiological event that has been medicalised by maternity services and society, which has not improved women’s experiences of birth but instead has made it traumatic. We talk about birth as a bodily function and a lot of the work we do with our clients is around protecting the conditions needed for that to go smoothly. One of our core values is women’s rights and we have seen these, first and second hand, being ignored and breached when it comes to pregnancy and birth. We have a lot of experience of women being misinformed and coerced by midwives, consultants and family members alike, so we have become really good at spotting when someone is attempting to limit a woman’s options. This is why it is at the forefront of a lot of the conversations we have with clients – the knowledge that you may not be given all of your options, and that the suggestions made by medical staff are not always in your best interest, because only you can know what is best for you and your baby. Knowing this before engaging in appointments or scans can be a huge benefit because you can prepare for it.
We wear our scepticism of the maternity system on our sleeve, so if you believe that the maternity system serves women perfectly fine as it is, we are probably not the doulas for you.
Who we usually work with
The women who usually find us tend to already be questioning the medical model of birth. It could be that they’ve had a previous medicalised birth experience that was traumatic, or they went to their booking appointment and were told that they “can’t” or “have to” do something and it made them feel uneasy. These women are listening to their intuition and feeling that the maternity service isn’t serving them the way they would like, so they are starting to challenge it. These are the women that we connect with the most. A lot of the clients we have served have been planning a birth that is maybe against medical advice because they’ve been labelled “high risk”, or planning to birth completely outside of the maternity system altogether.
We only attend freebirths
If you’re looking for a doula to attend your birth, this is a really important thing to consider because we might not be the doulas for you.
After many years of attending hospital and home births where medical staff are present, we have come to the decision to only attend freebirths from now on. This decision is based on having witnessed time and time again the abuse that women are subjected to during pregnancy, labour and birth, and we felt that if we were walking women into that then we were also a part of the problem. Birth needs very few and basic things to go smoothly, none of which are provided by the NHS maternity system.
We have supported and attended many freebirths – we know that some doulas don’t feel comfortable with this, but to us, it makes so much sense to birth unassisted. We feel that you cannot claim to support women’s choices if you draw a line at birthing outside the system – for us, there is undoubtedly no line. So if you are having or planning a wild pregnancy and/or a freebirth, please know that we are 100% behind you. It can feel like a lonely path to walk if you haven’t found your supportive village yet, but there is a big, active freebirth community in Manchester and we’d love for you to be a part of it.
Find out more about our Community Groups here.
What we look for in a client
Hiring a doula is a great step in the right direction, if it’s taken for the right reasons and if we’re a good fit, but unfortunately hiring a doula isn’t a magic path to a perfect birth. It often seems like one of the things on the ‘positive birth’ checklist; hire a doula, do a hypnobirthing class, read a birth book etc. and it’s true that having a doula can significantly reduce the risk of interventions and birth trauma, but that is largely due to the work that a woman does with her doula, and by herself, during pregnancy.
Our pregnancy and birth support comes with an unlimited number of antenatal sessions which can be used in whatever way the client feels will benefit her the most. We hold space for unpacking previous experiences, birth-related or otherwise, we offer information and resources, books and tools for planning your perfect birth and working out what will make that the most likely outcome. Questioning everything you’ve ever been told about birth is a good place to start! We want our clients to feel able to openly critique the maternity system and to feel able to take or leave any or all parts of it. Working out what you want is not necessarily easy, especially when we’ve been programmed to keep everyone else as comfortable as possible, even if it’s to our own detriment, but putting yourself first is essential for a good birth.
Women who get the most out of our services are women who value themselves and know that they deserve a positive birth experience and the right support to get it. Key aspects of an ideal client for us is someone who is open and honest, willing to question what she is told and lean into difficult feelings, and is able to voice her needs.
The first step
The first step when considering hiring us is usually a casual Zoom interview. This 1hr call is with Amy and Elle, and is a good opportunity to get to know each other and ask any questions. Some women come with a list of questions, and others are not sure what they want to know until they join the call – either way is absolutely fine with us. We know that it can feel incredibly weird to meet complete strangers on a Zoom call, so there is no pressure from us. We have complete trust in intuition, so there is often a gut feeling during these calls as to whether we are a good fit or not, and we hope that you feel able to listen to your intuition on this one too.
After the call, we would discuss between ourselves whether we believe we are a good fit for you or not because it’s important that this feeling goes both ways. We want to be able to support you in the most effective way, and for the relationship to really work we need to feel as comfortable as you do. If our values align and we understand what it is that you would gain from having a doula, and believe we can provide that, then we will let you know as soon as possible.
If we don’t think we are a good fit for you, we will be completely honest about this – we would not take on a client that we didn’t connect with, because it wouldn’t be beneficial to you. Hiring a doula is a big decision and a sizeable financial commitment – we want you to spend your time and money on a doula that has the same views as you and that you will have a good connection with.
For a lot of women, finances are a barrier. If your gut is telling you that we are a good fit, and we feel it too, but you can’t pay our fee – you’re in luck! As you will know from the rest of our website, we are a CIC which means that we are continuously applying for funding so that we can be an accessible tool for all women, regardless of their financial situation. Please don’t hesitate to ask us about our funding and how it works (it’s really very simple), because it is there to be used! Rest assured that we are paid the same amount whether you use the funding or are able to pay the flat fee, and you will have all of the same support from us.
You can book an initial interview either in-person or via Zoom here.