About Me

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Rugby, Warwickshire, United Kingdom
I am a mother of five children, four daughters all born in hospital (two now grown up!) and my son, born at home. One thing I know is that I would have had much more positive birth experiences if I had been well informed and well supported. Many women are feeling the same way and are seeking out the extra care a Doula can give them. I have been a Birth and Postnatal Doula for several years now, and am also a Lamaze Childbirth Educator providing 1-1 classes in antenatal preparation and baby care. I have special classes to help parents prepare for twins, homebirth, waterbirth, and parenting a new baby/babies. I am also a qualified antenatal teacher with the NCT and facilitate group classes in the Rugby/Coventry area. As a single mother I have an affinity with the special challenges of one parent families, or families where one partner is unavailable much of the time to offer support.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

an unimaginable loss

           Yesterday I attended a study day for NCT practitioners to deepen their knowledge and understanding of loss, the theories and processes involved and how to support parents who have been touched by Loss and bereavement around pregnancy, birth and postnatally. This is quite a taboo subject for discussion in our society, however it needs to be acknowledged, especially amongst birth workers that it does happen. There are 3, 600 stillbirths alone in the UK (NHS) and with about 15-20% miscarriage rate loss is something that may have touched many parents at some point in their lives. Even if this isn't a direct experience of theirs, they may well have been touched by the experience of a friend, family member, neighbour or colleague. As an antenatal teacher one of the things I can try and do is signpost any grieving parents onto charities which specialise in offering support, counselling, and practical knowledge. I have compiled a list below, but please feel free to contact me to add others if you see I have missed any or the ones I have need updating.

Where do people go for support: 

SANDS: stillbirth and neonatal death charity https://www.uk-sands.org

Cruse: Bereavement care http://www.cruse.org.uk

Lullaby Trust: Safer sleep for babies - support for families http://www.lullabytrust.org.uk

Bliss: For babies born too sick, too small, too soon http://www.bliss.org.uk

Tommy's: Funding research into stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage, and providing information for parents-to-be http://www.tommys.org

Willow Tree Centre: advice and support around pregnancy, miscarriage, abortion and stillbirth http://www.thewillowtreecentre.org.uk

Miscarriage Association: advice and support around miscarriage http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk

Child Bereavement UK: supporting families when a baby or child of any age is dying or when a child is facing bereavement: http://www.childbereavementuk.org

TAMBA: Twin and Multiple Birth Association http://www.tamba.org.uk

Sadly all the support in the world cannot change what has happened, but with lots of good support from trained and dedicated people there can be a way of rebuilding lives when loss occurs. Its also important to recognise that it isn't just the parents who feel the loss, but also the grandparents, siblings, friends and colleagues. These organisations and charities are there for all.

Several years ago I attended a conference by the Association of Radical Midwives (ARM) who had invited a mother to come and talk to us about her experience of losing her son at birth. This remarkable woman, Mel Scott,  not only spoke eloquently and passionately about her experience, and how midwives (and doulas) can support a family at this time, but she has also written a book too called After Finley, A diary of events following her sons birth. I obtained a copy of her book as soon as I could, and read it cover to cover. a truly touching and expressive telling of their unimaginable loss, but also an account of the practicalities of what was happening in the weeks and months following. please support Mel's cause by following her website, Finleys Footprints and purchasing her book


Some on-line sources of information are here:

NCT: coping with stillbirth http://www.nct.org.uk

NHS: coping with stillbirth http://www.nhs.uk

   I will always hold the memories of the stillbirths I have supported as a doula close to my heart, these tiny lives were over before they even had a chance to start, such a bitter sweet moment of joy at meeting the new babe but knowing that this is all it is going to be melts the soul.  For these parents who displayed so much dignity in their pain, I hold a special place in my heart, and always will. 
It has also been an absolute joy to have supported the same parents birth again, and while their new babies can never replace the ones lost, it has been a special moment indeed to see arms that have been empty for far too long cradling their new baby.

                                                     "No mother should ever have to walk
                                                      this lonely and painful road
                                                      the death of a beautiful child you know
                                                      is just too heavy a load"

Quote from 'Beautiful Boy - RIP Darling Adrian' by Cara Veronica Doyle

Please support Baby loss awareness day 15th October: http://www.babyloss-awareness.org

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Doula Retreat and coming full circle

Again this year I attended the Doula retreat at Cae Mabon, Llanberis, in the heart of Snowdonia. This beautiful magical place where a small group of Doula sisters meet, weep and laugh. this year was no different in this respect, and the sense of coming home as I trundled down the track with my huge rucksack, sleeping bag and paraphernalia was profound.

6 year ago when I attended my first Doula retreat in this beautiful part of Wales I had my five month old baby, Alfie with me. Attending my first retreat was the first time I had head space to contemplate myself, my journey as a woman, mother and Doula for a long time, while being held and supported by my  Doula sisters. After this first retreat I felt passionate to keep supporting other families as they welcomed their new babies into the world. I had balance which held my space for my family and the work I love and I looked forward to the next years retreat came around again and I could be held and cared for, supported and loved at the same time as becoming one with the beautiful environment of Cae Mabon, the river, the lake, and the mountains. Absolute bliss!            


Each year I have gone I have reflected on my life experienced the year previously, and my hopes for the year to come. sometimes this has been extremely painful. many times over the past 7 years I have felt numb with pain and loss as my marriage deteriorated under my feet. The process of gathering with these other women, doulas, midwives and kindred souls I began to understand that we all have challenges in our lives which test us physically and emotionally, and I would survive this one way or another! As the saying goes, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger!

After the retreat, three years ago children came to join me in Llanberis, on the last day and we stayed on for a couple of days, spending time together walking, following waterfalls, gazing at the beautiful views..

Three years ago the retreat was profound, and I learnt more about myself than ever before. I felt some self-awareness returning, and along with it came self confidence. I learned not to be ashamed of my body. As a doula and massage therapist I have never thought negatively about another woman's body, yet heavily criticised my own, I came to the conclusion that many of us do this, but I felt that I felt it so profoundly due to my husbands infidelity. during a workshop at Cae Mabon with the amazing Rocio Alarcon, ethnobotanist and shamanic healer, I came face to face with my dislike of myself physically, but also emotionally. it was a testing time for me, and I was left to reflect on the fact that I needed to work on my self worth to be of any use to anyone else, especially as a mother and doula.

As I bathed in the cold (yes, very cold!!) fresh waters of the stream, and swam in the lake, I felt washed and cleansed of so much stored and misplaced negativity..

Two years ago, I decided enough was enough, there is only so much anyone can take. I felt broken. I felt numb. I knew from my time at Cae Mabon that I didn't have to feel this way, it was possible to live, laugh and be happy!

This year I attended retreat feeling strong. I am a single mother now and struggle with some things, but being single isn't one of them! I know I may never live with another man again, and you know what, that's OK!! I do not feel that I need this in my life right now, if ever, but I also feel healed enough and strong enough that if the right man ever comes along, I'll be ready!
 I feel that this year, as I walked down the hill to the roundhouse, that I am actually a happy person again, I had come home, to my soul home of sisters at Cae Mabon, but also the home within me. I feel content again.

This year we had a feltcraft workshop, it has been a while since I have been inspired to do any craft for the sake of it, and on reflection I can see that I was quite resistant to doing it at all, then when I started doing it, it was interesting that all my self doubt came to the surface and couldn't think of a thing to do, once I got going though I enjoyed it. I slept well that night!! here are my pieces, I think they look colourful and positive, hopefully a sign of things to come, but also a reflection of how things already are, bright, positive, optimistic, strong, radiant and blossoming..

This is also the year I have also decided I will have a tattoo!  big decision at 43 years old, I know! But I have been waiting for the right time, and the inspiration. This year an amazing woman was with us called Cat, she nurtured us all with her magical henna, she hennaed our hair, our hands, arms, backs and bellies and now I feel ready to have permanent ink on my hands, which the lovely Cat has offered to design for me..

One evening we gathered in the roundhouse, with the central fire lit we listened as Rachel, our wonderful sister storyteller told the story of the seal wife. The story of the seal-woman who stayed in woman form to marry a fisherman but became ill due to neglecting her seal self. eventually she returned to her home, the sea, but visited her young son on the seashore regularly, as his home was on land. The mother would breathe her songs of the sea into her sons nostrils, but she could not stay, and he could only visit her, but took her song and wisdom with him when he returned to the land. This story touched my soul, and at the end of the retreat, Selina read an excerpt from 'Women Who Run With the Wolves' about the same story. On our last day, in the last hours of our retreat which felt like our spirit, soul home this story summed up how sad many of us were feeling to be leaving and going back to our daily lives, but how we will be taking the breath and stories of each other with us, knowing that next year we will be visiting again and we shall come full circle..

A big thank you to Janine for sharing her beautiful photos :)

link to Cae Mabon:


link to Henna Cat: