Why I’m a Doula
Once everything was over, and things returned to their “new normal”, neither of us were prepared for the PTSD, when it kicked in. The nightmares and replay of events in our heads. Dealing with the anxiety, questioning if we could’ve done more, less or something different. Responding to the triggers from sounds, such as the beep of a washing machine, the jangling of keys etc. Trying to control the anger at why this happened to me, to us; and most importantly working through the sadness and grief, of the loss of a pregnancy, the loss of a birth that I thought I should’ve had, and missing those first precious moments with my baby girl; But the reality was that I just too sick to be present with her. Her papa, had be the first person to be there for Olivia, and give her that first vital skin to skin while the doctors and nurses took care of me. Needless to say, our first birth and year into parenthood was quite the rollercoaster ride.
What I haven’t mentioned yet, is that my husband and I are both expats living in Amsterdam. I’m from the UK and he is from South Africa, so other than a few close friends, our main support network is physically far away; But we received THE most amazing support from the hospital team, NICU nurses, community health visitors and psychologists etc. who provided us all with invaluable care and encouragement, in what was an incredibly scary time. It was then that I realised, that I didn’t want another woman or family, to feel as alone and scared as we did. I had received so much knowledge and experience through this difficult situation that I had to pass it on and support women and their partners during the most vulnerable and transformative moment of their lives.
Sometimes I hesitate to share my experience, because I care about mama’s so much, and want them to have a positive birth experience. I really don’t want my story to scare you or let you think that all caesareans and births are traumatic. They are not.
On January 9, 2018, I became a mother to my beautiful daughter Olivia. She was a unplanned caesarean birth, and honestly, being my first, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through. At 28 weeks I was diagnosed with a rare and serious pregnancy complication, called HELLP syndrome. I was admitted to hospital immediately, and things were relatively under control until I developed an infection, resulting in the need for Olivia to be born prematurely. Olivia was born at 30 weeks. We tried to have her as naturally as possible, but due to the seriousness of my condition and the infection, everyone had to move fast, and Olivia was born via emergency caesarean section. Through no fault of anyone, Olivia’s birth left me traumatized, scarred, confused and grieving. And that’s without the impact that something so serious had on my husband. He was just an innocent bystander, feeling utterly helpless, while he watched his wife and daughter fighting for their lives.
What I learned from my birth is that you must prepare your mind and body for all types of birth, and any eventuality. You must talk about it, because in my opinion, mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation. Learn to surrender and to trust in the process. Learn how to cope with stressful times, and have the tools in your toolbox, ready, “just in case”, because anything is possible.
Motherhood has influenced my life in so many ways, and even though I had a traumatic experience, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It doesn’t matter if your birth is medicated, un-medicated, vaginal or a caesarean, it just needs to be from an informed place of positivity and not from fear.
I realise now, that being a mama, Doula and Childbirth Educator, are the most important roles to me. If I’d had the “perfect birth”, I probably wouldn’t have even heard about Doula’s or HypnoBirthing and the vital role they play during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period, let alone become a Trauma Informed Doula and Childbirth Educator myself. Being a mama, and supporting mamas is my absolute passion in life, and being there for you no matter what, is my calling.
As a HypnoBirthing Childbirth Educator, I will provide you with the knowledge to navigate your pregnancy and birth with confidence, and as your Doula, I will nurture you, inform you of your options, and empower you to make the right choices for you and your baby. Every birth is unique to your family, and every birth can be beautiful, positive and empowering, no matter how your baby is born.