Former Midwife, Christine Duffill, came on our Nurturing Birth Doula Preparation course in 2017. In this piece she reflects on the challenges facing her in transitioning to a different role in the birth world.
“As a former midwife there are colleagues who would argue that it wasn’t necessary for me to train as a doula, that I was perfectly capable of supporting a woman in labour without further training. Maybe they were right, but I had given doula training some thought in the past and was provided with this brilliant opportunity to find out for myself and to feel confident and comfortable with this new role. It was really reassuring to have Florence confirm that midwives had attended the course in the past, confirming my decision to undertake the training. I was further reassured to learn that ‘grandmothers’ had attended the course, as my age was also a concern. Many of my friends and colleagues are now retired, some younger than myself, not all understand why I continue to work, especially in relation to pregnancy and birth. So, all in all it was really good to learn that it was an all-inclusive and really supportive group.
I had concerns about my role as a doula with regard to my practice boundaries. How former colleagues or other midwives would react to my new role, particularly if we attended the same birth. However, by the end of the course and following reflection I now feel confident regarding this issue.
Despite these initial misgivings, I looked forward to adding another skill with which to support birthing women and their families. By completing the training I would be able to be ‘truly with woman’ which had become increasingly difficult whilst practicing as a midwife. Sadly, my midwifery role had become more and more eroded as my career progressed, I no longer felt like an autonomous practitioner with much of the care provided no more than a ‘tick box’ task. More and more, priorities seemed to be focused on paperwork, risk, defensive practice with time-constraints and staff shortages determining the quality of care. Much of this care was not evidence based. Where there was good evidence it wasn’t utilized, optimal cord clamping being one example, although I appreciate that this element of care is now changing. So, to be able to support and facilitate the choices of a woman and her family during their birth will be incredibly exciting and satisfying. However, my experience as a midwife makes me well aware that there will be some very difficult times too.
With regards to the training, well it far exceeded my expectations. I think I’d expected the course to be mainly ‘spiritual’ or ‘arty’ and very practical, so was pleasantly surprised to find all the useful links to research and suggested reading. This perfect balance of science and art altered my perception of the doula’s role. I’ve been a midwife for almost twenty years and a hypnobirthing teacher for four, so I’m constantly examining the evidence and updating my practice. I do believe the role of a doula can be very intuitive but it’s great to have the research to support this. The Doula Course Manual is an excellent resource and as already stated is full of useful links and recommended reading.
I don’t think the course changed my view of birth. As a former midwife I have of course attended many births; from the normal physiological to the very medicalised. I believe a woman can feel positive about her birth whether its physiological or a caesarean birth, provided she is informed, given choice and feels in control.
On completion of the course I knew I had made the right decision to attend. Teaching hypnobirthing and empowering women, and their partners, through education rekindled my passion for all things birth. Observing how couples change during the course; to witness their growth in confidence and observe how knowledge empowers them is so satisfying. Completing the doula training has added to this passion and belief that all women should experience the best birth possible. I look forward to adding this new role to my ‘toolbox’ as it will enhance my support of women and their partners throughout pregnancy, during birth and postnatally.”
We readily welcome anyone on the Nurturing Birth doula course who has previously worked as a midwife or in another clinical or healthcare role. If you have any questions about the course and its relevance then don’t hesitate to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here to watch Sophie’s video on doulas and midwives.