My lovely friend Maddie Mahon is a sister Doula. She recently blogged about why she does what she does and that has inspired me to copy her (best form of flattery apparently!)
The best way that I can tell you why I do what I do is with stories of my ladies. Yes I know this whole blog is full of stories of my ladies, but what you gonna do? You know I'll tell you anyway.
After the first Doula birth I attended Dad said "I only agreed because you are a friend, but I don't know how we did the first birth without you." Proof I was in the right job.
Another birth: I was called to a client's induction. She was 8cm. She had had an epidural. The male midwife (and before you say "here we go" my favourite midwife is a man... hmm... that smacks of "some of my best friends are [insert group you are insulting]) looked me up and down and said "Why do we need you here? How many births have you done?". At that point I'd done 50. He said "Oh I had to do that many to qualify. I've done over 200 now". I realised that this man felt threatened by me and my presence. My lady wanted to change positions and he told her it was impossible. I asked why. He replied "Who is delivering this baby? Me or you?". I couldn't help myself I said "I thought Mum was birthing her baby". At 10cm he began to direct her pushing. He never looked at her once. He began to count. She began pushing, but it wasn't to his count so he got cross, told her off and started again. Suddenly it was shift change time and he left. He had destroyed her confidence in herself, her body and her ability to birth. Talking to him, asking questions, trying to shield my lady simply made him more stubborn and actually the best thing for my lady was for me to be silent and hold her hand. The new midwife was lovely but the damage was done. The most brutal forceps delivery I've ever seen followed and consequently the baby had real breastfeeding issues. I spent days afterwards with Mum and baby working on the feeding. Finally they were good to go it alone and my time with them ended. A year later I got an email from her. She said "You may not remember me but you were with me at the birth of my son. I just wanted to thank you for your support and to let you know that I'm still breastfeeding a year on."
Twin birth: My lady wanted to have a vaginal birth as normally as possible. The hospital told her why it would be impossible. They were insistent that she gave birth with an epidural and that she laboured and birthed in theatre with quite a contingent of staff. She knew what she wanted and she refused. In the end a compromise was reached, she was allowed (you really should hear what Mary Cronk thinks of the word allow/ed) to labour in a birthing room but had to transfer to theatre for the birth. She was allowed (there's that word again) to use gas n air only as long as she realised the risk of needing a general anaesthetic should the second twin go into distress and she was allowed (and again with that word) to have a minimum number of staff at the birth. She laboured beautifully and quickly. She mentioned labour had started (early) and that she was in hospital. I wandered over slowly because she said that there was no rush and within the hour (minutes before I arrived) she was 10cm. I met her as she was transferring to theatre. The wonderful Consultant put sheets up against the windows to stop the students peering in and turned off a very annoying machine that was continually beeping. My lady gave birth to two gorgeous boys using only gas n air and got a standing ovation from the staff. They were amazed and hadn't thought it at all possible. My lady booked me for the birth of her daughter a couple of years later.
One of my favourite postnatal jobs was with a second time mum. She needed someone to take care of her and maybe watch the baby whilst she slept. Her older son was at nursery. I would arrive and we would chat whilst I began cooking. She was a wine buyer so there were plenty of wines to be used in the cooking... oh how I loved the cooking. She would take the baby upstairs, feed him and go to sleep. I would listen to the radio and sing whilst cooking. When my time with her came to an end her husband promised to buy an aga for me to work on if I would stay. We're still in touch. No aga yet though.
My twin mum with boys born 12 weeks early had breastfeeding difficulties and just a few days ago managed to breastfeed them both at the same time with no help. She thanked me for having faith in her.
I could go on... but there are many stories. Some with beautifully easy births, some with horrendous births. Some with postnatal needs that were simply about being fed and sent back to bed, others with breastfeeding issues. The end result is always the same. Happy ladies, happy babies, happy me!
Why do I do what I do? I love people and if I can help make things a little easier and leave happy ladies and babies (and partners) in my wake... well do I really need another reason?