Becoming a parent is the most exciting and daunting time in anyone’s life. We see enough new parents in our Surrey photography studio to know that it is a time in life when support from friends and family is vital. Although our newborn photography captures our Mango babies looking serene and peaceful, we have all had children so we know how hard those first few weeks can be. When we hear of things that we think will help our new mums we like to share it here. Last week we learned all about what a Doula is and we have decided that every new mum needs one!
We met up with Naomi Owen – one of Katie’s old school friends – who is a trained postnatal Doula and NCT teacher. You can see her website HERE. She very kindly let us attend one of her NCT classes to meet and photograph some of the mums she is teaching and to find out what it takes to become an NCT teacher, and what being a Doula involves – and boy do we wish we had all had a Doula when we had our babies!
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME AN NCT TEACHER & DOULA?
My interest in labour and birth never dissipated after having my children and I felt strongly about parents being entitled to informed choice about their birth experiences. I started volunteering in the local NCT branch and then I decided to train to become an antenatal teacher. I also wanted something which could fit around family life.
Most people come hoping to meet people who are going through a similar experience. That peer support comes into it’s own once the babies have arrived! While it is an antenatal course, I hope that parents come away with some skills that they can use not only for birth, but into parenthood as well. Things like learning how to relax can be invaluable with a new baby when you only have an hour to yourself all day! Understanding decision making is also something I hope parents remember in labour and also in parenthood.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF A DOULA?
A doula is there, not to look after the baby (or babies!), but to help and empower parents to be able to look after their baby with confidence. That doesn’t mean doing it right all the time, but it means having the confidence in themselves to try things and if that doesn’t work, to try something else. It is such a privilege to be invited into a home and spend time with them during those precious first weeks and watch them grow as parents.
WHY DOES EVERY MUM NEED A DOULA?
A doula is like having a close friend, mum or sister around you offering practical and emotional support. They will make you a cup of tea and have a good chat about all things baby and not baby, and then finish that washing up you never got around to doing, while you feed your baby. They will make you a sandwich and pop it in the fridge so that you have something you can grab when they’ve gone. They will come out with you to the shops when you’re not sure how to manage the bus on your own, and sit with you while you try feeding you baby in public for the first time. They offer small kindnesses which have big effects.
The diploma that I did in Antenatal Education took me 2.5 years through the NCT and the University of Bedfordshire. It was more academic than I anticipated, and has now been reclassified as a Foundation Degree! There was a huge emphasis on reflective practice, and we were encouraged to reflect on our births and feeding experiences.
To contact Naomi please visit her website : www.confidentparents.org.uk or call her on 07970 072864