How Do You Eat an Elephant?

images (1)I’m about to start my Doula journey again, after a break of what has ended up being several years. This break was rather inadvertent, but the combination of a tough pregnancy, working part-time as an Acupuncturist/Herbalist, supporting new Doulas in my role as Doula Mentor, and running the Membership Department for Doula UK, all with a small child, I think would have proven to be a bit more than I could have handled if I added the pressure of being on-call and arranging last minute childcare lasting potentially several days.

However, my little one is now 16 months old, and when a client I’d loved working with emailed me to ask if I could be her Doula, I felt it was a great time to come out of my self-imposed retirement and get back in the saddle again.  On a practical level, I have childcare cover courtesy of a great husband and mother, and a great back-up Doula (which is a by-product of my Mentoring work as she was one of my first Mentees).

5dfdb23da9c9e742e460cee13982818aDespite this personal and practical support however, I still felt the need for some intellectual and professional development and updating.  This came in the form of a day on Multiple Birth Workby Mars Lord, I trained with Mars (on Liliana Lammers & Michel Odent’s Paramana Doula Course) who has since carved out an impressive level of expertise with twin birth and postnatal work.  Having had twins herself – difficult enough if she hadn’t already had three kids – she has now processed and passed on her experience in this area to many women in her working life, both in terms of attending new Mothers and Mothers-to-Be, and in terms of supporting and advising fellow Doulas who are due to attend a multiple birth.

I’m not a postnatal Doula, but a Birth Doula, so although she covered both aspects of Multiple Birth work, I took more from the Birth discussion.  Having attended twin birth previously, I was struck by a few commonalities:

  • Pressure to be induced
  • Pressure to have a Caesarean
  • Fear from the medical profession around the position of the babies
  • Lack of training in vaginal birth for breech and twin birth
  • Contradictions between NICE guidelines and Hospital Policy

4066325Mars said something close to the beginning of the lecture which I found hugely helpful; a piece of simple but effective advice that just slotted everything into place for me.  How do you eat an Elephant?  One bite at a time.  Supporting a twin birth can sometimes feel overwhelming to a Doula (let alone to the expectant mother) so her suggestions about how to break down the experience were valuable.  They set a framework for supporting an expectant mother, using sound metholodolgy, hilarious anecdotes, supportive language (as important in the run-up to birth as during the birth) and practical advice which ranged from how to get hold of hospital multiple birth policy, to how to pick up two babies at once.

Although I don’t have a multiple birth on the horizon just yet, I do feel that when it comes along, I will be in a position where I feel better prepared and confident to support the mother in her journey.  For one thing, I’ll be sure to greet them with positivity and a compliment because, let’s face it, we all need this when we’re pregnant.  If there’s anyone out there in the Doula world with something to share or something to learn about multiple birth, I’d recommend this as the day for you.

Happy Birthing, Multiple Mama’s!
Naava.

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