Support, we all need it even when we don't realise it. But there's one time in our lives that we need it most as women and that's as we become mothers for the first, second, third or any time. I've been fortunate to have the support of my Mum and Mother In Law to get me through for the first few months after the birth of both children, but so many women have no support and find the first few weeks and months difficult. Well help is out there in the form of Doulas.
What's a doula I hear you ask? Well that's a very good question. A Doula is someone who provides mothers with support during or after birth and also provide support to the mother's family. Yes, they exist! I'm of the opinion that all mothers should have one to get them through the first few days and even months of the birth of a baby.
Today's Mama who's sharing her Mama Power - Support is Sarah Tessier who's a doula and who so kindly educated me on exactly what a doula is and why new mums need them. Sarah shares her story of what led her to become a Doula and her passion to support other mothers early in their journey.
Sarah is mum to Oscar ,five and Astrid, 18 months and is an antenatal teacher, postnatal doula and runs workshops to help mums-to-be to plan for life after birth and look after themselves in the days and weeks after having a baby. She's passionate about supporting women to have the start to motherhood that they deserve. In her free time she enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, kitchen dance parties and getting in touch with her inner granny by knitting and doing cross-stitch.
What led you to become as Doula?
It was a long process that happened over four years but started when I was pregnant with Oscar. During one of our NCT classes my husband turned to me and said that I'd be good at leading these classes. I laughed it off and told him that I was a bit busy with this whole having a baby thing to be thinking about a career change and didn't think anything more of it. A few months before I was getting ready to go back to work I realised that the career path I was on didn't fill me with the excitement it once had. I suddenly had a new found passion for pregnancy, birth and parenthood and wanted to build a career helping new parents during this time in their lives. I started by training as an NCT antenatal teacher and studied while also working part-time. It was hard work and a lot of sacrifice and missing out on week-end family fun because I was writing essays but it was all worth it. I combined teaching NCT classes with my part-time job for a few years while I figured out what else I could do to replace my 'day job'. After my experience with Astrid I knew I needed to help other women experience the benefits of a mothermoon which led me to postnatal doula work. I did my training during my maternity leave and shortly before I was due to go back to my day job I handed in my notice and haven't looked back.
How would you say your work as a Doula has helped you as a Mum?
My work as a doula has helped me as a mother in so many ways. It's allowed me to have the work/life balance that I've always wanted since I've had kids. Working for myself means I set my own hours and work around my kids. It means that I can be there for the school run, assemblies and class trips. It means that I can spend half terms with them and know that I can stay home with them when they're poorly. Finding my passion and calling and loving the work that I do has also made me happier as a person overall which has made me a better mum.
What have been your triumphs and challenges so far in motherhood?
My biggest challenge has been Oscar's birth and recovering from it. I had planned to have a home birth but it wasn't meant to be and in the end he was born by emergency caesarian after a thirty hour labour and we stayed in hospital for ten days while he was treated for an infection. I struggled to come to grips with the trauma I experienced during his birth and the health issues he faced which were completely unexpected. I felt a loss of control over my birth experience, life with my newborn and life in general. To try and regain control I tried to 'get back to normal' poured myself into looking after him because I felt I had let him down and neglected myself and my well-being. I couldn't talk about his birth for years without crying and struggled to deal with any kind of stress.
My biggest triumph was Astrid's birth and how I looked after myself in the days and weeks after she was born. I once again planned a home birth and nearly got it, but decided to transfer to the hospital towards the end of labour. I got my VBAC and it was an incredibly healing experience. I remember reaching down and feeling her head as she was being born and the overwhelming sense of power and triumph I felt in that moment still comes flooding back every time I think about it. I had learned from my experience with Oscar and had a postnatal plan. I didn't rush to get back to normal and had what I now call a mothermoon and the difference it made to my recovery was incredible.
What would you say to your pre-mum self now?
All that time you're putting into preparing for labour is important but labour lasts a relatively short time compared to the rest of your life as a mother. You need to look after yourself in order to be able to look after your baby. Spend some time thinking about your postnatal plan - how you'll look after yourself and who you can count on for support when you need help. And be kind to yourself when you do find things hard - it's ok not be ok.
To find out more about Sarah and her Doula services visit www.sarahtessier.com.