This is an updated version of my blog about how my work is a supportive circle.
I have set up a course in a group, Freebirth and Emergency Childbirth Support Group UK. I set it up in response to the number of freebirth queries I have had, it also supports women who want to know what to do if they birth their babies at home, a birth before arrival or BBA, by accident, following guidance to stay home as long as possible, fear of being separated from their partners, no childcare and more.
You can also subscribe and donate to support my work in my groups via THIS LINK.
In my course in a group some members have paid, those who cannot afford the joining fee have not, no questions asked (well lots of questions are asked to get in, in order to protect the members, but not about finances), it works on TRUST.
I also run The Home Birth Support Group UK, The Village, a positive parenting group, due in groups and some smaller local groups, these are free support groups, totalling active members of well over 10,000 women and people.
I have at points spent upwards of 16 hours a day, supporting women, families, other birth workers, in the main, for free, the longest day I was awake, supporting people, for 23 hours – and yet I have come in for criticism and judgement for running a paid, unit based, learning group – because apparently using my skills to keep my family fed and my bills paid, through a group, with probably over 100 hours of my time, love and care poured into it, is some how “wrong”. I should volunteer “ALL” my time and simply live on fresh air and feed it to my children.
Online criticism and bullying of doulas and birth workers, by other birth workers, for working, or having different views to the mainstream (or alternative) should stop, it should never have started, these times are bringing out the best of people and the worst of people and the cracks are showing, with peoples true colours shining through. As Jenny Wren, Doula, said to me the other day, “Women will remember who was there for them in these times”.
In my view, those women who are still being paid, who have saved for doulas they cannot use, who were looking forward to classes they are now having to find online, are happy to still pay for support.
Those women who can’t pay, contribute in other ways, with their input, their questions, their stories, these are also valuable contributions.
This creates a community in which those who can still pay for my services, or those of other birth workers, are happy to – this enables myself, and the other birth workers like me, who are supporting women and birthing people, all day and night, to be able to do so and be able to eat.
This is a traditional women’s circle of support, working in a non traditional way – heart to heart, hand to hand and soul to soul, reaching across the internet and into homes all over the country and I am very grateful because without this support, I would not be able to throw myself into supporting the wider community as much as I have.
In our community circle, all are equal, all are important, we all care for each other.
It is the unseen power of women’s circles, as they always have been. When women work together, we make intense, life changing, magic happen. Combine this with the mystical power of our bleeding and the liminal space of birth, and others, including those who should be our sisters, who have always been scared of magic, they fear and try to control and to subjugate, what they cannot understand.
I feel no shame in working to feed my family and support my family.
This extends into the well meant, but not thought out plethora of free offerings that keep popping into my groups.
Doulas need to eat, there are doulas and birth workers on the breadline. Offering EVERYTHING for free undermines that – it is well meant, but it leaves those who have suddenly lost their income bereft of paid work, it also devalues the many years we have spent raising the profile of birth work and it comes from a place of relative privilege, well intentioned as it is, we need both, to support those women in financial hardship and those who can pay.
In my groups, I am suggesting women support small business and small businesses have clear pricing with donation based and hardship spaces, this in my view, is fair to everyone. It is how I am running my paid group and work, I do also provide free 15 minutes chats and longer paid ones.
This should mean no-one in the birth world goes without the support they need, include those working in it.