I'm Emily and I live in London with my three-year-old daughter, Juno. I've been a doula for just under a year and I feel like I've finally found my "home"! I am a recognised postnatal doula and I'm currently working towards my recognition as a birth doula.
What inspired you to become a doula?
From the moment I discovered that birth doesn't have to be the traumatic, hospital-based event that I'd always seen portrayed in film and on TV, I knew that I wanted to do birthwork. Having my own daughter halfway through my midwifery degree really solidified it for me that support and feeling listened to is such a huge part of the journey to becoming a parent - and it can really make or break it. I had a natural break in my work life post-pandemic and decided now was the time to really focus on doing something that I loved and believed in. It's probably one of the best decisions I've ever made!
What did you do for a living before becoming a doula and if so, how has this helped you when working as a doula?
Before having my daughter, I began a midwifery degree, but I found I was feeling burnt out even by the end of the first year. Midwives are up against so much in the NHS and I just didn't feel that I would ever be able to give the care that I went into midwifery to give. It's given a huge respect for the midwives that I work alongside while supporting my clients, and it's also given me a lot of practical, hands-on experience of birth; the physiology behind it; and the options available to pregnant people making their birth choices.
What has been the highlight of your doula career so far?
Honestly, every client I meet makes me realise how unbelievably lucky I am that they allow me to walk with them on such an important journey.
What have you found the most difficult?
Knowing how difficult maternity care is at the moment, both for the pregnant people using it and the staff working to give the best experience they can under incredibly difficult circumstances. It is clear how little funding goes into NHS maternity care, and it's heart-breaking when I see the toll that has on pregnant people and all the amazing staff that work within it.
Can you share one lesson you have learnt through your work as a doula?
Every pregnancy is different, every birth is different, and every postnatal experience is different. Listening is the most important thing we, as doulas, can do.
What is the one essential item you can't be without in your doula kit?
Teabags! I bring them everywhere with me: whether I'm making tea for my clients, for a midwife at a birth, or for me while I'm giving overnight support, you can't go wrong with a cuppa!
What would be your one piece of advice to a woman who is considering training as a doula?
Doulaing is an incredible privilege and an absolute calling, but it's important to look after yourself too! If this is the path you choose, do it knowing that you'll have an incredible doula cuddle around you, and it's okay to lean on them when things feel tough.
Kicki Hansard is a member of Doula UK, however any opinions expressed on this blog are personal views and not necessarily the view of Doula UK.