I wasn’t sure what a doula was, quite, but hugely liked the idea of a constant support through my birth – someone who could advise my husband and I, translate any medical advice; to begin with I was especially keen on someone who would not go away as the only issue close friends had had with things going wrong during the birth was when their midwives had changed over and there was no-one around.

It would be fair to say that, while I practice yoga and value acupuncture, I was as keen on the physical presence of an experienced person (who could use acupuncture if needed) more than a doula per se.

From our first meeting I liked Maisie. Then, as she came round in the weeks before the birth she became some blend of friend/confidante/advisor – whilst giving me acupuncture which was the only thing I found helped me sleep – and also eased the aches and pains, the swollen feet…

Closer on, we exchanged texts regarding plugs and early contraction feelings, all the strange stuff that happens in the run-up. There is an awful lot to ask, and having a woman around who is your own age, of your own outlook, and yet has spent years learning about birth (everything from positions and postures for early labour to how to use a Guatemalan birth blanket: sounds crazy, in fact a simple way to use a piece of fabric to make standing labour considerably less hard work).

Going into hospital with someone we knew was huge for both my husband and I. Add on top of that the wisdom Maisie gave us about what questions to ask, when to Really Keep Asking eg for a room with a birth pool (the hospital said they didn’t have one; on M’s advice we held out – and at last a room magically became free)..

She looked after my husband, feeding him and sending him out for air.

She looked after me, from drinks to – well so many things. She knew my visualisations, she held my hand, she told me when things were feeling hard that that was what she’d expect, more she was a woman in my corner and, impossible to describe without sounding like a scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I felt the spirit of women looking after women from time immemorial, and felt stronger for her presence.

Nuts and bolts, she is also a ninja at massage, gave me some acupuncture to speed contractions etc. Even went out to make sure we got on the waiting list for a room in the hospital afterwards.. and volunteered her sandwhich when I was suddenly extra hungry afterwards..

It’s also worth saying I had been vaguely concerned she might interrupt the bond between my man and I. Not at all. She was cautious to let us be together, but at the same time knew when she could give valuable instruction. During pushing she clarified the midwives advice, and made sure they understood what I was saying… and afterwards I am eternally grateful she kept our new daughter on my chest while they sat me up (a midwife tried to remove her for the process, and I didn’t have the words to protest).

Maisie also was a real presence in days afterwards to make sure we were all ok, more acupuncture to aid healing (even placenta pills, I surprised myself again). She helped me realise the hormonal doubt/madness/concerns you can bave post-birth were ok, and hence I didn’t really mind feeling wobbly as it was so expected and prepared for.. Ach, I could say so much, but in short if any friend of mine were asking I would say book Maisie now. Unless I happen to be having anonther baby in which case please go and book someone else.

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