Someone recently told me that doulas are born, not made and I would agree that my doula journey probably started when I was really very young. I was definitely inspired by time I spent in Great Ormond Street hospital alongside really caring medical professionals from the age of 2. What could have been a very scary time was filled with fascination of medical procedure, the ability of the body to heal and how compassionate people could be. Combine that with an ever-growing interest in human biology and the seeds were sown! It took time to realise though as I also developed a love of theatre and film, so prior to having children worked in the creative industries writing and developing film scripts, casting, producing and directing plays and films.
After the birth of my son in 2002 I followed a new path, inspired by my own experiences, training as a baby massage teacher and therapeutic massage practitioner. My focus, given that time in my life, was on the postnatal mother, supporting women to have a more positive experience, and on making babies more relaxed and comfortable. Discovering the role of the doula in 2007 was an eye-opener and I pursued my training with Nurturing Birth, one of the largest doula-training organisations in the country, and joining Doula UK, the umbrella organisation of doulas.
It was a logical step for me to learn more about supporting breastfeeding and I am so grateful to the Breastfeeding Network for enabling me to train with them first as Peer Helper in 2010, and then to further my studies as a Breastfeeding Supporter (Counsellor) and volunteer on the National Breastfeeding Helpline. Educating, empowering and supporting new mothers in their feeding choices is an absolute passion.
My time now is divided between supporting my individual clients through their pregnancies, births and early parenting journeys and running Nurturing Birth, the doula organisation I trained with. I started teaching doula-training courses in 2012, and was then given the opportunity to take over the company in 2014 with another very experienced doula colleague. I teach courses throughout the year, and regularly abroad too. Training doulas gives me such pleasure and keeps me firmly on my toes, up to date with research-based evidence, and reflecting on the way I want to support families! Nurturing Birth is constantly growing and developing – we have an international mentoring programme for doulas, ensuring that they get the best support possible – we have an international Directory for parents to find all types of support for their pregnancies, births and postnatal journeys – and we are developing up new antenatal and postnatal programmes. So much of my time is engaging with other fantastic birth professionals on the social media scene – blogging, vlogging, interviews, speaking at conferences and workshops – I love it!
Given that my work is such a passion I have no issue with it taking up a very large part of my life! Separate to that though my other loves are my two fantastic kids who teach me so much about what it is to be a parent, my cats, yoga, singing in the best choir ever, still getting to the theatre and cinema when I can, dancing, eating and drinking with great mates, and walking out in nature as much as possible (hard to do in the centre of London!). My love for dark chocolate knows no bounds and I relish the occasional glass of Rioja or a cheeky cocktail (not when I am on call)! I’m embracing a late-developing interest in travel and have various dream trips up my sleeve!
One of the things that I think is really essential is keeping up to date with research and continuing to develop my practice. Below is a list of some of the study days/conferences I have attended:
- Mama Conference 2012, 2013, 2017. Due to appear as a Keynote Speaker at 2018 conference in Glasgow.
- Doula Conference 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
- Waterbirth with Dianne Garland
- Homebirth with Marie Coveney
- Hypnotherapy for Doulas with Maggie Howell
- Active Listening for Doulas with Ashley MacDonald
- Supporting Every Birth with Michelle Every
- A Day at the Breech with Joy Horner and Shawn Walker
- Birth Physiology with Michel Odent
- Breastfeeding problems with Dr Jack Newman
- Malpositioning with Selina Wallis
- When Survivors Give Birth with Penny Simkin
- Twins with MammyDoula, Mars Lord
- Birth and Sex with Sheila Kitzinger
- Birthing 4 Blokes with Mark Harris
- iLactation Conference 2016 – Scholarship
- First Aid with First Aid for Life
and many more…
If you want to get a greater flavour of who I am then come and check me out on on social media – Facebook and Twitter. I also regularly post video blogs on different pregnancy, birth and parenting topics via Nurturing Birth, as well as contributing articles to relevant websites and magazines.
Thank you so much Sophie for all your support during my pregnancy, labour, delivery and post-natally. My journey would not have been the same without you! Having you there was brilliant and knowing I could come to you when I had worries and wanted to know something made me feel much more relaxed about everything. You were brilliant at providing information when I didn’t know something and just feeling informed made me feel more in control and relaxed specially as I was very nervous about giving birth and being a mommy for the first time! I feel I could not have had a better doula. I felt comfortable with you and I always forgot to tell you this but as you know having a doula is said to make your labour progress quicker and as soon as you came to my home when I was in labour my contractions speeded up. I believe this was because I felt very safe when you arrived and knew I was in the right hands! It was a pleasure to have you at the birth of my beautiful son Devonté and I know who I will be contacting if there is ever a no 2! Post-natally you were also amazing and wow I never thought my breastfeeding would go so brilliantly but it did because of you and the information you provided on breastfeeding. I would never have known if it had not been for you. Thank you so much again Sophie. I believe you to be an amazing doula who is very passionate about what they do and I can tell being a doula is definitely more than just work to you! I have nothing negative to say about you or the way you work and I could go on forever singing your praises….. look forward to meeting up with you soon and for you to see how big he has gotten! Thank you.”
— Zantia Kash, mother of Devonte