Introducing Hayley Rand, BirthBliss Doula Of The Month, January 2018.
I live in Purley, Surrey with my husband and our 4½ year old daughter and 14-month-old son. I’m a Doula UK recognised birth and postnatal doula and have been a doula since December 2014.
What inspired you to become a doula?
I had a wonderful doula at my daughter’s birth in 2013. Karen showed me what it meant to ‘hold space’ for someone before I even knew it was a thing. She supported me to have the most incredibly positive birth experience and was there for me when I needed her postnatally. After giving birth, I was on top of the world and felt like I could do anything. I went into motherhood feeling confident and wanted other women to experience this. Even after having my baby, I couldn’t stop myself from seeking out information to further educate myself about birth, breastfeeding and the postnatal period, and I soon realised I needed to channel this in some way!
What did you do for a living before becoming a doula and if so, how has this helped you when working as a doula?
I graduated with a degree in French and German and then worked in HR and as an Executive Coordinator for a few years. After I got married in 2011, my husband and I moved to Oman for three years for his work assignment, and this is where I gave birth to our daughter. Many of my doula clients are not from the UK, so I understand something of their situation, going through such a transformative and significant time in their lives whilst living in a foreign country, away from family support networks. Becoming a mum before becoming a doula also meant that I was already completely comfortable with all bodily fluids, which is handy in this line of work!
What has been the highlight of your doula career so far?
I felt very proud when I completed Doula UK’s birth and postnatal recognition processes but it feels like a highlight every time a woman and her partner invite me to support them on their journey. Everyone has such a unique story to tell and I often feel humbled by the personal things that are shared with me. It’s a privilege to work so closely with parents and witness them grow in confidence during our time together.
What have you found the most difficult?
Being a doula inevitably means that at times, we support clients through some of the most difficult times of their lives, as well as some of the happiest. It’s been heartbreaking to support clients through neonatal death, as well as through miscarriage. However, I have been privileged to also support families during pregnancy after loss – which is often a time of very mixed emotions for the expectant parents – and I have shared in their joy and their tears at the birth of their healthy baby.
Can you share one lesson you have learnt through your work as a doula?
As a doula, we don’t need to ‘fix’ everything for our clients. Listening can be one of the most simple, yet important things that we do. Sometimes we are the only person giving a woman space to work out what she wants and hearing her without any agenda of our own. In some ways, a magic wand to solve a client’s problems would be a great tool to have, but it would also not be very empowering for her, and empowering women is what doulas are all about!
What is the one essential item you can't be without in your doula kit?
As a birth doula, my essential item is probably food! There are a number of items that are useful to have in a doula kit but I believe we can support women very effectively with very little, as our greatest tools are the relationship, trust and understanding we have built with them antenatally. So I would have to say food, to sustain me during long births and enable me to support them to the best of my ability. As a postnatal doula, my rainbow crocheted breast is never far from my side!
And finally, what would be your one piece of advice to a woman who is considering training as a doula?
Without wanting to sound too melodramatic, Kicki’s doula training was life-changing for me. I would say that if you have a strong urge to do this work, it is definitely worth exploring. When I meet people and tell them what I do, their reaction is often, ‘I could never do that!’ (as well as ‘I wish I’d known about doulas when I had my babies!’), so if you feel differently, it might be the vocation for you! Like most doulas, I am always more than happy to have a chat with anyone who is considering doula training!
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.