Week 12 – exam results

Week 12 – exam results

And now I am officially a competent massage therapist. I received the results of my written exam and passed that as well. Found it very hard to keep a smile off my face all week.

For the past month or so I have actively been making contact with other doulas locally and nationally. Facebook seems to work for this in a way I have not appreciated previously and both my local FB group and the national one have already been helpful sources of information, support and work – one lead last week has lead to some new post natal work this week. I am also joining other networks and went to a Positive Birth group in East Dulwich. This involved around eight pregnant women/midwives/mothers/doulas/ hypnobirth trainers/ antenatal trainers (most in more than one role) plus 3 1 yr olds and 2+year old .  It was a lovely atmosphere which took me back to the best times with my NCT group after my son was born.

The one downside of a great week was having a cold which meant that I had to cancel one session with my new client – on the basis that the last thing a parent needs when struggling with a baby who will not sleep is for that baby to get ill. Difficult –  I felt guilty (and less importantly realised that there is no such thing as sick pay for me now).

More positively on the doula front my first client has recommended me to one of her friends who I will meet next week. And I have finalised my business cards and postcards and these have been printed and delivered. This has by and large been a brilliant week and I really love my life at the moment.

Week 11 – field of dreams?

Week 11 – field of dreams?

I did the practical exam for my massage diploma on Saturday. And passed. What a relief. I was even more nervous than I had been for the written exam (which I should hear about next week). With the likelihood of becoming a professional massage therapist now increased I  spent some of the week decorating one of our bedrooms to use as a therapy room. The question is “now I’ve built it will they come . . .” (apologies  to fans for slight misquote from  the film – but this is in its own small way  my “field of dreams”).

Lovely time with S and J this week. I  gave S a massage and have decided that this is something I will offer to all my postnatal clients who book me for a reasonable number of hours. A combination of the labour itself and feeding and carrying a new born  can be very tough on the back, neck and shoulders. I’m pretty sure that most new mothers would benefit from a massage to help with physical tension and as a source of relaxation from the stresses and strains of early parenthood.

I have been reflecting on difference between starting a new career as a young adult and an older one – I keep wondering whether life will ever feel “routine” again? I can’t imagine it but I and am all too aware that the shine wears off most new things after a while. How did I feel when starting new jobs /courses etc as a young adult??? Often completely lacking in confidence and a bit of a fraud I think – though always delighted to start new things.

Week 10 – first paid work

Week 10 – first paid work

I went to meet the  potential postnatal doula clients on Monday and started work on the same day. So pleased and excited! I spent most of the week with the family – especially mother – S – and 4-week old baby boy – J. The “work” (but has been far too much fun for that label) has  included providing  S with the chance to offload about her labour.  We have also  talked over feeding options; and started to organise her house which had major building work in the run up to  J’s birth.  I have also helped with some minor domestic tasks and – most fun of all – looked after J to enable S to rest.

As a mentored doula I need to write a report for my mentor at the end of each placement to help me reflect and develop. I have made a start on the one for my time with S and J which I will finish when I stop working with them. A bit laborious – but helped me to reflect on how things have gone this week.

It was the last day of massage course on Friday – getting ready for the practical exam and practicing again some of the more advanced skills. I am sad that this has come to an end because I’ve loved it. But the timing is good. Richard has sent me the first draft designs for my marketing material – really feels that things are getting going properly at last.

Week 9 – There for you

Week 9 – There for you

My lovely sister Alison , who does this sort of thing as her business, has agreed to build me a website. So I went to Edinburgh to visit her and get the site started. Meant I had to at last decide what I want to call my business – all the obvious things are taken which is one of the reasons I have procrastinated about this. In the end we agreed that the phrase “There for you”  is  appropriate for both doula work and massage therapy, so I went for that. Slightly worried that it is not specific enough but at least the decision is made now and I have bought my domain name : fionathereforyou.co.uk. I am excited with progress so far. Was really clueless about the whole process, but Alison is very patient and I am reassured that once up and running I should be able to manage the site myself. And my other sister’s partner – Richard Byrne – is helping us with the design so that I can have business cards and flyers printed. All beginning to feel much more real . . .

I did not get the birth doula job that I went for last week – the potential client was lovely about it but confirmed she had gone for someone more experienced. I had a telephone conversation with another expectant mother, but again think she is looking for someone who has “been there and done that” in dealing with the local hospital so I would be surprised to hear from her again. On a more positive note I had a long chat with a mother looking for postnatal support ASAP. Am visiting her next Monday with the view to beginning to support her immediately assuming we get along and can agree hours etc that work. So I’m ending another week with my fingers crossed!

Week 8 – first doula opportunities

Week 8 – first doula opportunities

My doula profile has been live on the Doula UK site for a few weeks now and this week I had my first enquiries. One was for a birth; the other for  post-natal work. I replied to both to say I was interested and had an interview for the birth job. This is supporting an older mother who is expecting her second child and whose partner may not be able to be at the birth. Due to her age the hospital has said they will want to induce her if the baby is not born before he due date. We got on well but she seemed disappointed by my lack of doula experience. This is something I’m quite worried about – why will anyone want to hire me to support them through their labour when there are plenty of experienced doulas out there? My fee reflects the fact that I am a “mentored” doula, but nonetheless I wonder.

I have been doing quite a lot of research and reading around current thinking on birth and early parenthood – one of the main things that doulas offer is to be a source of information for their clients. This has included a book on “hypnobirthing” which for those who don’t know is about the mother and her partner using self-hypnosis and mindfulness to manage the labour. I was fairly sceptical – but the book (Mindful Hypnobirthing by Sophie Fletcher – there are lots of others out there) made a lot of sense.  And the material around the impact of hormones in pregnancy and labour and the importance of activating the Parasympathetic nervous system aligns with what I have learnt on my Anatomy and Physiology course about the role of massage in promoting relaxation. I can see that the techniques could be helpful not only in labour but also for managing stress and assisting sleep during pregnancy and after the birth.

On the massage front I have sent a message out to all those people who I massaged as part of my course to say that I hope to be qualified soon and offering them one last free massage as a thank you – some take-up but not as much as I’d hoped.