Freebirth Support Plan FAQ

  1. What if I’m still considering calling a midwife?
  2. When can I sign up for a freebirth support plan?
  3. What if I’m not sure whether I want a doula with me on the day or not?
  4. I’m still attending midwife appointments – does that make a difference?
  5. I can’t afford your fee – what are my options?
  6. How can my birth partner use your support?
  7. My birth partner is not supportive of my choice to freebirth – can you help?
  8. How many antenatal sessions can I have?
  9. Can we meet during pregnancy just to hang out?
  10. What are the different ways we can meet?
  11. I’ve been told I’m “high risk” – will you still support me?
  12. Can we talk about breastfeeding during pregnancy?
  13. Can you support me to plan my postpartum period?
  14. What can I use the Whatsapp chat for?
  15. What if I am still pregnant at 50 weeks?
  16. What if I go into labour before my on-call period starts (37 weeks)?
  17. How will I know who to call and when?
  18. What happens if I call you over during labour and then it slows down or stops?
  19. What if I give birth before you arrive – will you still come over?
  20. Do you have information on how to notify of the birth?

 

1. What if I’m still considering calling a midwife?

We might not be the right doulas for you. We will only sign a contract with a woman who has decided to plan a freebirth. There are lots of ways in which we can support you during pregnancy and after birth, but we wouldn’t be able to commit to attending your birth unless you were planning to birth unassisted. If you are planning a freebirth and we sign a contract with you, it states clearly that if you do change your mind and decide to invite a midwife, we would no longer be able to attend the birth. You of course always have the option to change your mind, and we never want a woman to feel like she is having her options limited, so if you are unsure as to whether or not you want a midwife at your birth it might be that GMD are not a good fit for you and a doula who is happy to attend both freebirths and attended births might be a better choice. We have some recommendations!

2. When can I sign up for a freebirth support plan?

You don’t need to be a certain number of weeks to access our support, as soon as you know you are pregnant you can book an interview with us either in-person or via Zoom. If you are not pregnant yet but you are planning a wild pregnancy or freebirth in the future, you might want to get in touch with us and have a chat before you conceive by booking a Holding Space session either in-person or via Zoom. We find that most of the work women do with us is done during pregnancy, not on the day of birth, so the sooner you have access to support the better! However, if you’re already in your third trimester and you’ve only just heard of a doula there are still lots of benefits to seeking the support of one. The process of signing up for a freebirth support plan usually starts with an interview, and from there you can decide if we’re a good fit for you, and we can do the same. We do have a contract to sign, and once this is signed by both you and us we will officially be your doulas.

3. What if I’m not sure whether I want a doula with me on the day or not?

That’s okay! As we said above, most of the work women do with us is during pregnancy and not on the day. The unlimited antenatal support means that you can use our service as much or as little as you like, and that includes the birth. We have no expectations of being in the same room as you when you give birth – we fully understand the importance of privacy and being undisturbed, so if you find that labour feels good when you’re by yourself that is wonderful. Sometimes knowing that you CAN call us if you want to is all the support you need. The support we provide during pregnancy is incredibly valuable, so it’s not a “waste” if you don’t call us on the day. Hiring a doula means that you have all of your options open. It can also be helpful for birth partners to know that they can speak to us during labour as well, we don’t have to be in the room to be supporting them too.

4. I’m still attending midwife appointments – does that make a difference?

It doesn’t make a difference to the support we offer, but here’s the thing – it DOES make a difference to how you feel about your upcoming birth. The reason we no longer attend birth where there is a medical staff member present is because birth is a normal bodily function and there are risks associated with medicalising something that is not inherently dangerous. Midwives and obstetricians are trained to see birth as the sum of its potential risks, most of which are perpetuated by ignoring the basic needs of women in labour. We know very few women who have been able to continue to go to their midwife appointments and maintain a strong confidence in herself and her body. Many women are attending appointments because they think that they have to, or they should. Saying yes when you mean no is a slippery slope. We support women to break out of that cycle and to really stand firm in their choices, by figuring out what is benefitting them and what isn’t, and then saying no when they mean no. Usually the logical conclusion is that the appointments are having a negative impact on the woman’s confidence and happiness. We can and will still support women who are planning a freebirth who are still attending appointments, but we will encourage you take challenge yourself to think critically about why you are going. If you are gaining something from the experience then you have weighed up the risks and benefits and made a decision, then you are saying yes when you mean yes and that’s great!

5. I can’t afford your fee – what are my options?

We understand that there are many reasons why you may not be able to afford our fees. It’s important first though to recognise that spending money on a service like this is not frivolous, but is showing yourself that building your support network is worth doing. For those that would struggle to pay the full fee in one go, we are always happy to set up a payment plan for up to 12 months, which after the £300 deposit would mean paying a more manageable £125 per month. We do have a funding pot for women experiencing financial hardship which can be accessed to pay the full fee or just part of it if you’re able to make a contribution. The support you receive will be exactly the same whether you are paying the full fee or accessing funding. If you’d like to talk more about funding options, drop us an email to hello@greatermanchesterdoulas.com

6. How can my birth partner use your support?

Your birth partner, if you have one, is going to be your main support so it’s really important that they also feel supported – this way they can feel totally comfortable protecting your birth space and meeting your basic needs. All of your support sessions are for you to use however you wish, so if you’d like to bring your partner or your mum or sister along to the meetings you book with us – please do! Some birth partners are carrying fears that they don’t want to project onto you, which is great because it wouldn’t be fair to do that, but they haven’t found a place to offload yet. We can be that sounding board. We can have sessions with just your partner, so they can fully express whatever is on their mind without worrying about scaring you or adding to your load. The Whatsapp chat that we set up with you can also be used by your chosen people.

7. My birth partner is not supportive of my choice to freebirth – can you help?

From our experience, an unsupportive birth partner has the same effect on the birth process as a midwife who is looking for problems – they can be the difference between a smooth freebirth and a high-intervention hospital birth. It’s important that anyone you are inviting into your birth space, including your partner, is supportive and trusts you. If you are planning on having your partner at your birth, we would want to meet them before we decide whether or not we’re a good fit. Partners can carry fear or sometimes just preconceived ideas of birth being dangerous, but it is their responsibility to find resources and do the work to understand that birth is a normal bodily function so that they can support you. It is definitely not your job to do the work for them. Remember that you do not owe your partner the experience of being present at the birth, so they need to earn the right to be your support person. Recognising that those around you during labour will influence the course of your birth will help you decide who gets to be there. We are happy to support partners to talk through their fears and misconceptions of birth, but they have to be willing to do the work.

8. How many antenatal sessions can I have?

As many as you like – they are unlimited! You might like to schedule regular sessions with us so that you know you’ve got time set aside for yourself. You might want to just schedule them as and when something comes up for you. Having the Whatsapp chat makes it easy to find out our availability, and you’ll be given a specific link to our Calendly so you can book sessions quickly, and get automated reminders.

9. Can we meet during pregnancy just to hang out?

Absolutely! We have no expectations of what these sessions will be used for. Getting to know all three of us is important so that you feel comfortable with whoever is on-call on the day, so if you want to schedule a meeting so we can go for a coffee and chat about non-birthy things we are all for it. We love getting to know our clients during pregnancy and we never limit our conversations to just pregnancy and birth, we know that you are a whole and complex woman and how you live will be reflected in how you birth.

10. What are the different ways we can meet?

We can meet in-person at any of our drop-in locations (which you can find here), or we can come to somewhere closer to your home. We usually offer at least one session in your home towards the end of pregnancy so that you can get a feel for what it’s like having us there, and for us to find out where the tea and coffee is so that we can make you drinks during labour without having to ask you lots of questions. We can also have sessions via Zoom.

11. I’ve been told I’m “high risk” – will you still support me?

Most women would be classed as “high risk” at some point if they continue to go to appointments and agree to all the scans/measurements/tests that are offered. The “high risk” label doesn’t mean anything, and it doesn’t change how we see you. As we talk about in section 3, medicalising a normal bodily function will have an impact on your confidence and ability to give birth unassisted. The support we offer doesn’t change if you are labelled “high risk”, and we can support you to shake off this label if that’s what you want. If you are planning a freebirth but change your mind because you have been given this label and decide to invite midwives to your birth, we won’t be able to attend your birth. We will still be here for you though, and you can reach out to talk to us any time.

12. Can we talk about breastfeeding during pregnancy?

10000% yes. One of our freelance doulas, Sarah, is incredibly passionate about breastfeeding and is a peer supporter. She loves talking to women about breastfeeding during pregnancy because this can make a huge difference when it comes to those first couple of days with your new baby. We encourage women to plan their postpartum ahead of time, with a particular focus on how you will meet your own basic needs after birth so that you can focus on feeding – this often involves building up your support network so you can be mothered whilst you mother. All of these things are great to think about before you give birth, so we never shy away from talking about it in pregnancy! Sarah also offers in-person breastfeeding support once you have had your baby, which would fall under our postnatal support.

13. Can you support me to plan my postpartum period?

Again, this is a big fat yes from us. In fact, planning your postpartum can be the very first building block to planning your birth. Figuring out who is going to be around after you give birth, what they can bring, how they can help are all really good things to work out ahead of time and have written down. Learning about normal newborn behaviour is key, because just like birth we have been fed lots of misconceptions about how often babies should feed and sleep and cry and poo. Knowing what to expect can help you to build up your support system and plan for a peaceful postpartum. We will talk to you about our postnatal support offering as well so know what we can offer.

14. What can I use the Whatsapp chat for?

Anything you like! The chat will be set up once the contract is signed, and in it will be Amy, Elle and Sarah (your doulas), you and whoever you wish to invite. You might want your partner, your mum, your sister to be added to the group chat so that you can all access our support whenever you need it. The chat itself can be a space for venting, sharing your thoughts and feelings, scheduling sessions, sending resources etc. You can use it any time, day or night, to send messages and we will respond as soon as we can. Having all three doulas in one place can be useful too, because we all have different experiences that we can draw from so you’ll get different perspectives on things if that’s what you’re looking for.

15. What if I am still pregnant at 50 weeks?

This is pretty unlikely, but you get the point. Due dates are bunkum – we know this, you know this, everybody knows this. And yet… they are still dictating the care that women receive. We tend to call it a ‘guess date’ instead. Your guess date doesn’t really matter to us, the only thing we use it for is to estimate when we should go on-call for you. Usually we go on-call around 37 weeks gestation, and from this point onwards we will have our doula bags packed, fuel in our cars and be ready to come to you day or night, whenever you call. We will then stay on-call until you have your baby, whenever that might be. You will not be pregnant forever, we promise. We expect to be on-call until 43 weeks at least, so we hope you know that we put zero stock in due dates and you won’t feel any pressure from our end.

16. What if I go into labour before my on-call period starts (37 weeks)?

Again, we don’t put any stock in due dates so it might be that you do go into labour before 37 weeks. We are firm believers that your intuition will not steer you wrong, so if something were wrong – you would know it. We will still come to you as quickly as we can if you want us to, it may just take us a little long than it would during the on-call period – this is just because we may not have childcare arrangements ready, or we might be out of the area.

17. How will I know who to call and when?

When we sign a contract to support you we will put your guess date and on-call period in our calendar. As your on-call period approaches we will organise ourselves to make sure that one of us is named as “first on-call” on each day. We will share this with you so that you have an idea of who to expect on each day, but it’s always okay to call any of us on any day/night, and we will call whoever is first on-call. Please do not worry about it being the middle of the night – we are prepared for this (and secretly LOVE being woken up by the call), so don’t wait until morning if you actually want us there with you.

18. What happens if I call you over during labour and then it slows down or stops?

There are lots of reasons why labour might slow down or stop, and it isn’t a sign that there is something wrong. It might be that you need a break from the intensity, so your body slows down to give you chance to rest. It might be that you’re in early labour which often is stop-start. You don’t need to be in a specific part of labour to call us over, we trust that you will call us whenever you need extra support. You might want that extra support precisely because labour has slowed down or stopped and you’re looking for some calm to remind you that this is normal. We’re here for you at whatever point you’re at, and you can send us away again if you want to, as many times as you like!

19. What if I give birth before you arrive – will you still come over?

This happens surprisingly often (or maybe not so surprisingly), because the women who have worked with us for months feel confident in themselves and their ability to birth. Many women feel like being completely alone during labour, and don’t call us until the last minute (sometimes this is during transition), and we arrive after the baby is born. The baby being born is not the moment we’re there for, we are there for whatever you need. Sometimes that is the practicalities birthing your placenta, or manoeuvring once your placenta has been born. It might be making your bed ready for you to get cosy. If you want our support after you’ve given birth, of course we would still come. If you are planning on calling a midwife after you give birth to do any checks or paperwork, we would most likely leave before they arrive. We’d prefer to discuss this beforehand so we know what your plans are, that way we can be prepared and support you in the best way.

20. Do you have information on how to notify of the birth?

Yes we do, although the contact details for each area vary and there is no magic formula to make this a smooth process. We have put together a booklet to help you navigate the route that works best for you. We can talk about this is any of your antenatal sessions so that you’re prepared ahead of time.

If you have more questions that we haven’t covered, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and ask!

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