Postnatal (Recognised since November 2011)
Birth (Recognised since September 2011)
- Is an Access Fund Volunteer
Lives in: Cricklewood NW2
Local info and availability:
I cover most areas of North, North West and Central London, eg Hampstead, Belsize Park, West Hampstead, St John's Wood, Queen's Park, Primrose Hill, Maida Vale, Kentish Town, Camden Town, Golders Green, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Finchley, Willesden, Brondesbury, Barnet, Edgware, Stanmore, Totteridge, Borehamwood, Elstree. I support births at UCLH, the Royal Free, The Whittington, St. Mary's, Paddington, Queen Charlotte's, Barnet and Watford Hospitals and I attend home births.
Antenatal preparation, breastfeeding preparation and support, simultaneous feeding of twins, postnatal support. Relaxation techniques, pain relieving massage during labour. Peer breastfeeding volunteer at Royal Free Hospital PN ward.
- I live in Cricklewood with my husband Henry. I have four grown-up children, including twins, and seven wonderful grandchildren, aged 2 to 7.
- I have always been passionate about fertility and birth: before becoming a doula I was a counsellor in a busy London Fertility Clinic.
- To improved my breastfeeding skills I am currently doing an in-depth breastfeeding course led by International Board Certified Lactation Consultant Indira Lopez-Bassols.
My three births gave me first-hand knowledge of Caesarean Section and VBACs (vaginal birth after Caesarean). My boy/girl twins arrived at 34 weeks, delivered by emergency CS. They were in special care for three weeks and learning to breastfeed from a kind and patient nurse has been a skill I have passed on to many over the years.
My two VBACs brought me immense joy and inspired me to support others, not only to achieve their dream of conceiving, but in having the sort of birth they want.
An early teacher, Janet Balaskas – founder of the Active Birth Centre – taught me the value of a confident ‘can do’ natural approach to birth and the benefits of correct breathing and positioning. Janet now recommends me.
I believe strongly in a woman’s innate ability to give birth and the wonderful instincts that allow her to do this naturally if she trusts her body and those around her. But hospitals can be bewildering places, particularly when you are feeling extra vulnerable, leaving you uncertain about what is in your, and your baby’s, best interests. With pressure on midwives greater than ever, it is reassuring to have a constant, vigilant doula presence during your labour.
I make certain you are well informed. You are entitled to feel confident and optimistic: I will guide you, explaining the different stages as well as procedures and choices available once you are in labour – whether you are having a hospital, birth centre or home birth. I work with you on a personalised birth plan.
Knowing what’s right for you helps to empower you to ask for what you need, whether it’s more time to consider a procedure or simply clarification on something mentioned or being suggested. This helps you feel safe and in control of events.
At an antenatal meeting I explain the pros and cons of interventions, different types of monitoring and pain relief and, if required, during the labour I will advocate calmly for you with your best interests at heart. I will never try to interfere with important medical decisions, however, as this is the province of the medically trained staff.
I trained with Nurturing Birth at the end of 2009. In order to gain the NB qualificiation I studied birth physiology, obstetric scenarios and breastfeeding. I hold NB certification. I am a breastfeeding support volunteer at the Royal Free Hospital.
I went through Doula UK’s rigorous supervised Recognition Process and achieved Birth and Postnatal Recognition in 2011. I have worked steadily supporting birthing women and postnatally since November, 2010 and have attended over 50 births.
I undergo continued professional development – having attended study days and workshops on, among others, breastfeeding, paediatric first aid, homebirth, understanding significant pregnancy ailments, informed choice (on birth); the role of oxytocin in birth, and compassionate birth (partnering) at the British Psychological Society. I recently attended a seminar on post-natal depression and related mental illness and how to support women and obtain correct help.
I originally trained as a fertility counsellor at the Royal London Hospital and City University and worked as a Relate trained couples’ counsellor for 15 years. I am a qualified Higher Level Teaching Assistant (primary) and have years of experience teaching children with special needs in Barnet primary schools.
After an initial interview and once booked I will provide two antenatal visits to thoroughly prepare you and your partner for labour, birth and the care of your baby. I will help you write a concise Birth Plan, (including a gentle Caesarian plan if appropriate), and discuss every aspect from how to recognise that labour has started to how you would like to birth your placenta and the atmosphere in the birth room. We will look at how to keep early labour as comfortable as possible, what you will need to take in to the hospital and what equipment and essentials you will need to have in place at home for yourself and your baby/ies.
I will go on-call for you from week 38 to 42 of your pregnancy (assuming baby not born) and my phone is on alert 24 hours a day 24/7. I am always ready to deal with your queries and any concerns you may have during this time and afterwards. I sometimes attend meetings with midwife supervisors with clients to help them achieve the birth they want and to make sure they and the hospital are fully informed.
I will support you physically, with massage effective for pain relief, and emotionally (not neglecting your partner) during labour and birth, stay with you till you are comfortable and in most cases baby has fed, and provide two postnatal home visits to reflect on the birth, ensure all is going well and help in any way I can (breastfeeding support, bathing baby, sharing information etc).
I can also provide ANTE-NATAL sessions if you want to be well prepared and informed on labour, birth and breastfeeding, and separate POSTNATAL VISITS if you don’t want a birth doula but would like to get feeding issues resolved, discuss any concerns, ask questions and have practical support. I am described by clients as a doula/mum/Mary Poppins all rolled into one! I’m happy to do practical tasks and make sure your home is tidy and laundry sorted.
If this is your first baby it may feel like you’ve just landed in a strange new country whose language you don’t know! I will guide you as you learn a whole new vocabulary.
Where ongoing postnatal support is required I will look after baby while you get much-needed rest, make sure you eat and drink well, support ongoing breastfeeding and explain safe formula preparation if this is your choice. I will help you use an expression pump should this be necessary and guide you through safe practices for milk storage and help with baby laundry and general tidying. You will develop skills in baby care and be comfortable feeding in a variety of positions! I am happy to support you and your family in any way that helps you. Baby routines are not easy to establish and talking through strategies can often lead to solutions.
I attend births in London and nearby hospitals, birth centres and at home. I have experience of natural, VBAC, instrumental deliveries, water birth and Caesarean Sections. Clients have delivered using breathing techniques, self-relaxation CDs, gas and air (Entonox), TENS, induction and Epidural.
I provide massage and acupressure to relieve pain and can discuss homoeopathic remedies though I am not medically or holistically certified. I often refer clients to professionals in these areas and also osteopaths and reflexologists specialising in pregnancy and babies. I lend or recommend books and specialist DVDs.
TESTIMONIALS FROM PAST CLIENTS
‘I chose to have a doula at my second birth due to the bad experience of my first birth. I wanted someone who could keep me calm and instil confidence and who I thought would be the best advocate for me at the birth. From when my husband and I met Alison we felt very at ease, but also confident that she had the knowledge and experience to be exactly what we wanted and needed. Our antenatal visits were extremely helpful at making me feel positive about the birth, something I never thought I would feel. Once at the hospital she calmly made sure the team were aware of all my wishes, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise as I was close to giving birth, and without her there I would have felt very rushed. She kept me and my husband calm and kept a level head throughout. Postnatally when I struggled with breastfeeding she also had very good tips I used. I would not hesitate to recommend her: I will definitely be recommending her to all my friends.’ Laura S, mother of Conrad b. Birth Centre, UCH.
‘My labour was quick and very intense. Alison was at my side minutes after alerting her that I was in labour and immediately went into action, putting the finishing touches on the birth space with calming music and providing massage and positioning guidance as the labour progressed. Alison worked seamlessly with the one attending midwife (my labour progressed too quickly for a second to arrive in time) and my husband, all the while maintaining calm and sticking to my birth plan’ (Laura, homebirth of baby Violet).
‘Alison was extremely helpful and informative…I was impressed by how thorough, well-read and informed she was about the birth process. We had a long and difficult birth experience and she stayed with us the whole time – 24 hours – and was very supportive and helpful during the entire process. My partner also benefitted greatly from having a second pair of knowing and helpful hands around. Alison’s easygoing and caring personality is a perfect fit for the role of birth doula and her own experience of giving birth and bringing up four children provides further reassurance. I would certainly recommend her.’ (Katya, hospital birth of baby Sasha).
‘I’m lucky to have found Alison. She was exactly what I needed. I was struggling with breastfeeding and was really frustrated. Half an hour from her arrival both babies were attached to my breasts, feeding. It was amazing. I’m so grateful.’ (Julia, postnatal client, twins Ron and Daniel).
‘Alison, thank you for your help and guidance for the birth of my beautiful little girl. I was initially undecided whether or not to engage a doula but after such a positive birth with your help, I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made’ (Emma, mother of Millie, born Queen Charlotte’s.)
‘You helped me get over my fears and concentrate on my breathing. I felt much more confident of my ability to have an anaesthetic-free birth and that your care would get me through it. I also really appreciated the way you collaborated with the midwives and doctor as the atmosphere was very positive. My doctor also noted this afterwards.’ (Kelly, birth client. Mother of Naomi b Portland Hospital).
‘Alison showed herself to be adaptive and cool under pressure – she actually got to the hospital before we did! She had brought things we had forgotten in haste…..Having a third person in the room who had experience of births provided reassurance. Alison was able to ask intelligent questions of the medical staff and provided us with an advocate to overcome our lack of prior experience. Dad felt very comforted at certain points in the birth when Alison was able to say “This is normal”‘ (Emily mother to Henry).
‘During labour Alison was absolutely amazing. She coached me through my contractions; she was so optimistic, calm and reassuring – I really didn’t think I could make it. She held my hand and encouraged me and somehow I gave birth naturally without an epidural, even though I had been set on having one. Immediately after giving birth Alison helped me to breastfeed my baby; it was very effective and I was able to feed for 10 minutes. I am very thankful she was there. I was so happy that she was my doula; the experience would not have been the same. I was so scared, being without my family and this being my first baby. Alison was completely there for my husband and I. I am very lucky and would not recommend anyone more than Alison.’ (Jessica, mother of Oliver).
‘Alison guided us towards this unique moment with knowledge which comes from experience. Her guidance lead to confidence, peace and in the end after a long labour, to a healthy, beautiful baby boy born naturally against the odds. I would not have done it without her. In gratitude, Brigitte (mother of baby Alex).
‘I just wanted to say thank you again for all your help towards the end of last year with my twin girls, Lauren and Eden. I am happy to say that after your initial support with my breastfeeding, I was able to breastfeed the girls up to 7 months of age – a lot longer than I ever expected I would be able to. ( Maureen, NW3).
‘Thank you for being our doula. Your support has meant so much to us and has really made such a difference to our birth experience this time. I couldn’t get the VBAC but do not regret for one minute all the work we put into my birth plan: it has been a truly enlightening and empowering experience and one that I will remember with pleasure. My biggest thank you for your helpful insight and support. I would not have got so far with my birth plan without you.’ (Laura, mother of Mostafa).
‘We were so grateful to have someone on our side that we could trust: Alison Grunwald. She was the calm and steady rock that accompanied us all the way through the birth of our first child, Maria. She was there when we knew nothing about childbirth and answered all of our questions with utter patience and incredible wisdom….she was there holding our hands in labour, giving us peace and confidence…she was there looking after us when we went home completely overwhelmed….she was there when C struggled with baby blues. she was everything we wished for in these turbulent times. Thanks so much Alison: you made the birth of Maria a joyful and peaceful experience.’ (Daniel father of Maria born St. Mary’s Paddington).
‘The birth plan worked out exactly as we had discussed which I know is a rarity, especially in the labour ward. And your encouragement about me speaking with the consultant midwife was really valuable – that meeting made me feel so much more in control of the whole process. During my long labour having you on the end of the phone or at our house taking me out for a walk was invaluable. I would definitely have gone into the hospital the minute things got painful whereas your calm, matter-of-fact knowledge about the stages of labour kept me at home for as long as possible, which was exactly what I wanted.’ (Charlotte, VBAC mother of baby Audrey b. St.Mary’s, Paddington).
Birth package: on application.
Postnatal (alone) £100 for a 4-hour visit, plus any parking fees. Reduced where ongoing.
Drop-in for b.feeding support £40 (£25 ph if 2 hours or longer) plus parking.
Please do get in touch if you’d like me to help you with your birth or are looking for general antenatal or postnatal support. And for fuller client feedback please take a look at my website www.alisongrunwald.co.uk