by Hazel Acland Tree
The European Doula Network covers more than the EU, it covers more than doulas. It is a
wide-reaching mycelium network whose roots come from the passion of small groups of
people who want to make birth better, for babies, for mums, for dads, for all birthing
people. It recognises that birth transcends borders, language, culture, and laws. It is a
fundamental part of life on this planet. Some people might work mostly with the physical
aspects of birth: the biology, the physiology, the practical details. Some might work more
with the emotional aspects: the joy, the fear, the grief, the agony, the ecstasy, the passion,
the love. Some might work with the mental aspects: the legal structures, the humans’ rights
issues, the hospital and medical practices, the networking, the training and passing on the
flame of knowledge and wisdom to the next generation of birth keepers. And some might
work with the spiritual aspects of birth: the rite of passage, the transformation, the
shedding of identify, the birth of parent as well as birth of new soul. All these things
translate across borders, across languages, cultures, and ways of looking at the world. They
give us a commonality like nothing else. This is a world of birth workers, united by the will to
change things, to support, to educate and to inspire. To leave behind a legacy of something
for our grandchildren. To be able to say ‘I did what I could to make the world a better place’.
And these are the things I experienced and saw while representing Doula UK in the
European Doula Network. It is more than a website, it is more than an annual meeting, it is
more than a google group or a Facebook group when people exchange ideas. It is a country
all of its own and it is made up of the people who live there.
I have had the privilege and honour of being part of the network for the last 6 years and
being the official representative for Doula UK in Europe. I have met birth workers from all
over Europe – from Ukraine, to Portugal to Lithuania, I attended five conferences (three in
person: Barcelona, Warsaw, Vienna and two online) was part of an international cuddle of
doulas. Together we listened, shared, met, ate, drank and danced with doulas to strengthen
our bonds of solidarity in the work of birth. It has been a rich opportunity to celebrate
diversity and build connections.
Now the time has come for me to step back from this and offer the opportunity to someone
else. My life is changing, I am in my own transition and have made the sad decision to step
back from active doulaing after 16 years. It feels time to hand over the mantle. I will
continue to be a rite of passage doula, supporting people through life transitions and
holding the doula compassionate heart in my soul. My social enterprise
(www,thenestsw.org) has been running for 3 years now supporting women, girls and
menstruators through menstruation, pregnancy, birth and menopause and is growing every
month. Also my son turned 18 and my step-granddaughter was born. I feel myself shifting
from the Mother archetype towards the Queen, stepping into a position of leadership and
inspiring women’s empowerment. This has come as a surprise and sometimes I feel like a
am holding a lightning rod of energy focusing on grounding it to make real, positive change
in the world.
I will try to be brave; I will step forward into this new world and embrace the opportunity to be my best, most authentic, vulnerate, powerful self. I hope to meet some of you there.
So, now the space has opened, and Doula UK needs someone, or two people to represent it
in the European Doula Network. If you like meeting people from different cultures, of
listening and learning about the joys and griefs of birth in different countries, if you can talk
about what is happening in the UK and understand it is not the only reality but just one of
many, if you are passionate about birth and being a doula then I urge you to step up this
opportunity is not to be missed!