Postnatal (Recognised since January 2012)
Birth (Recognised since October 2010)
Lives in: High Laver CM5
Local info and availability:
I cover Greater London, East London and Essex.
Birth & Postnatal Support .
My name is Caron Smith and am the proud mother of three young adults, living together with our boxer puppy in Essex. I originally qualified as a midwife, having trained at Kings College University and previously worked at St Thomas’ Hospital, London.
However for more than ten years now I have offered my services as a Doula, supporting over 200 families to date. In this role – whilst I no longer provide any clinical care – I am delighted to be able to utilise my extensive experience and my absolute passion. I feel honoured to be able to offer individualised practical and emotional support through pregnancy, birth and those irreplaceable first days and weeks as families learn to care for and bond with their precious new arrival (s), and settle into their new identities as parents.
Having had the privilege to be at many births, I am well aware that every labour is as unique and individual as the babies that are its gift. For many parents it will be approached with optimism and excitement, whilst others may feel anxiety, apprehension or sadly even fear. My philosophy is simple – regardless of their initial feelings, I hope that with the benefit of the antenatal preparation that we do together and my support throughout their birth, that each of my clients is able to reflect upon their birthing journey and feel that they have had the very best experience possible in whatever circumstance may have presented.
So what can I offer?
Initially, I would offer you a totally relaxed, non-obligatory meeting with yourself and your partner (if you have one) to ensure that we all felt our combined personalities would work well to meet your personal needs and help you both to approach the birth more relaxed and confident. If you felt I I was the right doula for you then we would schedule our antenatal sessions at a time in your pregnancy and a place of your choice. These are tailored to your personal needs. Getting to know you and your family during your pregnancy, I will try to learn what sort of birth you hope for and how we might best work together to create the optimum birthing environment. Throughout these sessions we will look at how beautifully designed women’s body’s are for birthing, and how much power you and those supporting you have to influence your birth, as well as looking at what factors can contribute to hindering the birthing process.
Armed with that knowledge, and confidence in your support team, hopefully you will be able to approach your birth with relaxed excitement. In practical terms, I can help you to compile a birth preference list should you wish to share one with your midwives. I can also assist you in finding information regarding any aspect or concern you may have about pregnancy or newborn care. Should breastfeeding be your chosen feeding method I am very happy to do a separate session covering the basics of breastfeeding and what makes it more likely to be successful.
But being your birth doula doesn’t mean we just focus on the birth. You are preparing to become a mother (even if this is not for the first time). Birthing is just the beginning of the journey. Sadly women tell us time and time again how emotionally unsupported they feel by the present system of maternity care. If you decide to work with me, I would encourage you to communicate with me regularly throughout the remainder or your pregnancy (via email, phone or text) and will happily meet with you in person as many times as you feel necessary. I would love you to be able to share any concerns that you have; to help you access reliable sources for any information that you may seek; to help you process any choices or decisions that need to be reached and/or just to chat about how you are feeling. I am always happy to offer a safe space and a compassionate ear, with these conversations bringing us closer together and building on the familiarity that should serve us well on your baby’s birthday, as well as into the postnatal period if you would like my support to continue.
And when the big day finally arrives, whilst working in harmonious partnership with the midwifery/medical team, I aim to facilitate a peaceful birthing environment, helping you to make the team aware of your wishes/preferences and offering continuous emotional and practical support to you and your partner (if present). This could cover anything from back massages for you to facilitating necessary brief breaks for exhausted partners to recharge.
Although not widely acknowledged, pregnancy and then labour can certainly be a daunting, emotional and draining time for partners. Although it is now common for fathers (or other parents) to be encouraged to attend their baby’s birth, sadly the present system of maternity provision can often fail to support them or meet their own individual needs. In my experience this can be vital in helping facilitate a smooth and confident transition to parenthood. As a Doula I endeavour to support both parents (or any other birthing partner you may choose to have with you). By offering and meeting their need for emotional and physical support, they will be better able to be the best support for mum.
Together we will try to achieve the optimum birthing experience for all in any scenario – be it a drug-free water birth or one that requires medical intervention. I have vast experience in supporting homebirth, hospital birth, water birth, vaginal birth and caesarean section and both elective and emergency caesareans.
As a result I am deeply aware that women reflect most positively upon their experiences when they have felt safe, loved, respected and heard – when they have understood what is happening, why it is happening, and been given control over any decisions which have to be made. I believed that my role as a Doula is to help facilitate and nurture these feelings, empowering women to feel good about themselves and their birthing journey (whatever twist and turns it may happen to have taken) and leaving them emotionally strong and more able to cope with the mothering journey ahead of them.
The early adjustment to parenthood, whether for the first or a subsequent time, is tough. And never tougher than in today’s modern society.
Popular culture would have us birth our babies and within days be back in our skinny jeans, fully made up and back out in the world (with a newborn in tow who hopefully won’t deign to inconvenience anybody else by needing to be fed or changed, or dare to cry!) And then there is the plethora of parenting books, websites and forums, telling us how to become experts: dictating how we must breastfeed – how painful it will be if we choose to breastfeed, how we might spoil our babies if we pick them up too much – or damage them if we pick them up too little, how a routine is crucial – how it’s impossible and unhealthy to try to get a newborn into routine, how much easier it is if we choose to sleep with our babies – or what a terrible risk that would be. And so it goes on……!
No wonder new mums can feel daunted.
And to cap it all we have lost our ‘village’. Women are not meant to mother in isolation hence the old saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. Historically we would have had elders: mothers, aunties, grandmothers all supporting us, sharing their wisdom and nurturing us physically and emotionally as we made a far more gentle transition to motherhood. Somebody to cook nourishing meals for us, to do the practical household chores, to entertain older siblings and to allow us to recover physically and emotionally from pregnancy and birth as we gently learned to feed, care for and bond with this new little being – unhurried, gently and in our own unique and ‘good enough’ way.
Modern living means we are often far from our own extended families, women work long hours often right up to the time of their baby’s birth, allowing them little chance to have got to know other local female neighbours who might have become that ‘village’.
And so the majority of us believe that we must soldier on alone – isn’t that what everybody else does? Put on a brave face and just get on. Asking for help? Surely that would be a sign of weakness or an admission that we can’t cope.
Well I believe that all new mums deserve that support. In fact I believe that it is vital for the wellbeing of the whole family and seeking it should be viewed as strength rather than a weakness – a true investment.
So please ladies – I know that it is difficult when you are pregnant to see past the birth itself. But please, take the time now to consider what you might need in those early days and weeks as you adjust to being a mother. Do you have friends who can prepare you lovely healthy meals, or take a sibling out for a few hours, or just come and sit with baby as you take a much needed sleep or shower, or be a shoulder to cry on for the day’s that are too hard. People love to help – chances are you only have to ask.
And if you don’t have that – because family are far off – or friends are still working or busy with their own brood, or you fear that the help may come with uncalled for ‘advice’ or judgments, then maybe I can help.
I have no personal agenda, no wish to impart my views on how you should parent, just a passion to ensure that you feel supported, validated and nurtured as you make the wonderful, yet challenging transition to motherhood in your own unique way.
My postnatal services can be booked on an hourly basis – in conjunction with my Birth Services or separately. Gift vouchers for Postnatal Services are available and make a great Baby Shower or new baby gift.
You deserve all the support that you need!
If you felt that my experience and philosophy might fit with your approach to birth and motherhood, I would be absolutely delighted to have a relaxed, non-obligatory chat with you – to hear a little more about you and the support that you seek and to see whether you felt I might be the right doula to support you through this special time. Please feel free to contact me via email or over the phone whether you are looking for birth support, postnatal support or a combination of both. If perhaps you don’t feel I could be the right doula for you – then I would like to wish you well in finding the support that you need and hope that you will go onto have a wonderful experience of bringing your baby into the world and can blossom into motherhood.