Initially, when I look back at 2016, I remember the beginning of the year as full of challenges, all professional and linked to my work. I certainly saw what can happen when you express your opinions and I discovered that all women drawn towards doula work have very different reasons for doing so. I like to see the best in everyone I meet and come in contact with but this year I have learnt that protecting myself is also important.
I was so excited to welcome Penny Simkin in May to run her wonderful workshop “When Survivors Give Birth”. It was a huge success again and it’s always amazing to spend time with someone as iconic as Penny as she is such a lovely woman. This is something I’d like to expand further as after training with both Penny and Phyllis Klaus in San Diego, I’m a facilitator of this workshop and will look to offer workshops next year.
As well as teaching my Aspiring Doula Foundation Course in both London and Abbots Langley, I was asked by Birthlight if I would go to Shanghai and run a course. In early September, I was on a plane to China and I spent a memorable six days with Grace and a bunch of aspiring doulas. It was a new experience to teach in English and have the course translated into Chinese during the four days. I discovered that no matter where in the world you are, sitting in a circle, sharing food and thoughts truly bond women together.
After stepping down from my role of chair of Doula UK in September, I was able to put all my focus and efforts into my own organisation. I approached some of my colleagues in the birthing world as well as in the corporate world and was overwhelmed to get so many of them support me and accept a place on the panel I put together. You can see who they are and what they do on the BirthBliss Academy’s Professional Panel. I’m so grateful and feel so honoured to have these amazing people on board.
In November, I hired a part-time PR and Press Officer, Eloise Rickman, who has experience of working as a senior Government press officer, and she has also held press and PR roles in a political party, several charities, and a PR agency. You can read more about Eloise on my website. I’m very excited about having her on-board and she started in November. We have already been able to start putting together a press and media plan for the next six months. With Eloise’s help, I’m hoping to be able to raise the awareness of doulas in the UK and worldwide.
I also launched the new BirthBliss Doula Register end of November, which is a register for parents to find a doula who have completed the doula course with the BirthBliss Academy. I called it the BBD Register and already potential clients are finding doulas to support them.
In December, I spent an afternoon at the Westminster Cathedral meeting room, in the company of Andrea Leadsom MP, Dr Alain Gregoire, Chair of the MMHA (Maternal Mental Health Alliance) and a big group of passionate professionals who are all part of the 1001 Critical Days cross-party parliamentary group. I was also invited to the House of Commons to an event entitled 'The importance of addressing Mental Health Conditions during pregnancy and beyond’. It was a great afternoon with people from all walks of life and highlighted the importance of respect, dignity and kindness in maternity services.
So, what is scheduled for next year? I’m very excited to let you know that I’m planning to take the BirthBliss Aspiring Doula Course around the country and Ireland and I have twelve courses planned. It also looks like there might be another couple of courses in the pipeline for Shanghai and I’m so deeply grateful to Francoise Freedman and Birthlight for giving me that opportunity.
I’m very busy working on an on-line antenatal educational programme for parents, which I’m hoping to launch in the spring of 2017. I’m keen to expand the reach of the BirthBliss Academy and offer educational courses for parents-to-be as well as new parents.
Last but not least, I’m in the process of rebranding and I’m chuffed with my new logo, designed by a dear friend of mine, Hilary. It’s a slow process but it all seems to be coming together nicely.
I’m really looking forward to 2017 and all that the new year will bring. I’m so grateful to be doing this wonderful work and spend time with all these amazing women. The women that become doulas through the BirthBliss Academy come from all over the world and they are so special and unique and at the same time, very similar. All brought together by a calling to serve other women and to nurture, support and inspire positive memories of the childbearing years for new families.
So, as 2016 draws to an end, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very healthy and prosperous new year! May all your dreams come true!
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.