Before training as a Doula, I trained as a Breastfeeding Helper with the Breastfeeding Network and I’ve been running a drop-in in Newbury for 9 months now. I’ve loved my time with BfN, but have been limited on what help I could offer as a volunteer.
Home visits have been particularly tricky – they are hugely important, especially in a spread-out (and often rural) area such as West Berkshire. Mums of new babies may not be able or feel ready to go to drop-in clinics or groups, especially if they had an Caesarean section or are recovering from a birth that might not have been ideal. If you can’t drive (perhaps because of having had a C-section) then much of West Berkshire is completely inaccessible! So expecting all Mums to be able to get to drop-in clinics and groups is unrealistic, but carrying out lots of home visits just isn’t viable as a volunteer.
I’ve decided that I can best help families with breastfeeding support as a Doula. It will enable me to be a lot more flexible. I can offer home visits, including repeat home visits (trying to get all the information I can into one visit is always difficult and what works on one day might not work on the next), longer home visits and helping out in other ways to enable breastfeeding. It will also mean that if a Mum wants support with going to a group, clinic or appointment, then I can do this.
And when I start work as a Birth Doula, hopefully I will be able to help empower my clients so that they don’t end up in the situation of struggling with breastfeeding and desperately seeking help when baby is a few weeks old. One of the most frustrating things of being a breastfeeding support worker is so often coming across Mums who have struggled through days and weeks (perhaps even months!) of issues with breastfeeding, that may never had have to have been such a problem if they could have accessed good support from the start.
For those families who can’t afford to pay for help, I can work something out. For those families who can afford it, a modest payment for help at home is a good investment and likely to be a very small fraction of what they spend on a new baby.
It’s a new venture for me…I hope it goes well and I can help families with their parenting journeys