doulas, networks, parents

Birth Mindfulness for Parents 1

Planning a natural birth?
Did you know that there are three key ways that you and your partner can prepare for the arrival of your baby, whether in hospital or at home, which may make a real difference to your chances of experiencing a gentle birth?
Place – feeling safe and unobserved in your birth environment, free to move around and take up any position you want, can help your mind and body to stay focused and keep those essential labour hormones flowing. Rearrange the furniture, hang a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door!
People – choosing attendants you trust to uphold your wishes for labour and birth is wise. Your supporters can protect your birth space by keeping questions and noise to a minimum, by banning strangers from the room. Enlist a doula (birth companion) as your advocate, she is there for your partner too!
Pain – establishing a unified attitude to the way you choose to work with your contractions, and making sure you have plenty of positive emotional support, can mean you are less likely to feel the need to request pain medication or an epidural. Write a clear birth plan, keep everyone informed!
An ‘undisturbed’ labour means you are more likely to enjoy a gentle birth. And a positive experience helps you, your baby and your family off to a good start.

Author of ‘Birth Space, Safe Place: emotional wellbeing through pregnancy and birth’ (Findhorn Press, 2009), former midwife Adela Stockton also provides doula courses (Mindful Doulas). For further information, see

doulas, midwives, parents, publications/reviews

Fresh review for Birth Space, Safe Place!

So pleased to receive this refreshing review by Marina Colville at NaturalChildbirth!

She truly captures the essence of what I have always hoped readers might glean from this wee book – thank you!

doulas, midwives, networks, parents

What does ‘support’ in childbirth really mean?

I have been thinking about the use of the word ‘support’ in relation to childbirth and wondering if it is not just being paid lip-service to lately, a bit like ‘natural’ childbirth.
Folk say “Yes, of course support is important’ but do they understand what this really means?  What kind of support we are talking about? Or why it can make a difference?
My wise doula sister BB tells me that Michel Odent is not a fan of the use of the word ‘support’ which perhaps suggests there is something to this discussion. Yet what term are we to use instead?
For me, this poem by Anonymous, really sums up what I mean when I talk about childbirth support, or any kind of emotional support I suppose:

What is Support? 

Support is unconditional 
It is listening
Not judging, not telling your own story

Support is not offering advice …
It is offering a handkerchief, a touch, a hug … caring. 
We are here to help women discover what they are feeling … not to make the feelings go away. 
We are here to help a woman identify her options … not to tell her which options to choose. 
We are here to discuss steps with a woman … not to take the steps for her. 
We are here to help a woman discover her own strength … not to rescue her and to leave her still vulnerable. 
We are here to help a woman discover she can help herself … not to take that responsibility for her. We are here to help a woman learn to choose … not to make it unnecessary for her to make difficult choices.

Although written as if for mothers, if we replace the word ‘women’ for ‘men’, it becomes a poem for fathers too.

So let’s be mindful of how we use the word ‘support’, let’s notice when and where we use it and what we really mean by it, and if we hear it being paid lip service to, let’s feel proud to quantify the true value of its existence.
doulas, musings

‘Birth Aunties’

I was fortunate to have been invited to the annual ‘Gala Evening’ fundraiser event for our university campus, last week.

It was a ‘black tie’ do and I found myself seated between a Professor (our host) and a Doctor of Education who I had not previously met, both highly intelligent, interesting and interested men.

Inevitably the moment came when I was invited (by said Dr) to define a doula.

“But surely that’s the same thing as a midwife?” he responded, “What’s the difference?”

So, after reiterating the emotional, social and practical – rather than the clinical – support bit, I tried something new:

“Kind of like a birth auntie!”

The conversation then changed to another subject. However, some fine wine and a good dinner later in the evening, as we paused between Raffle and Auction, the delightful Dr reflected this term back at me in perfect context.

Yay, he so got it! I was so impressed! And it made me reflect on the possibility of using ‘Birth Auntie’ as a way of describing the doula more often …


Gentle Birth Companions – review from

Lovely review of Gentle Birth Companions by Sarah Buchanan of Natural Childbirth

Check out this inspiring new website dedicated to supporting and informing expectant and new parents, childbirth supporters and maternity healthcare professionals alike.

Thank you Sarah!