Thank you so much for taking the time to read a little about my story. My name is Danielle and I am a 31 year old mother from Widnes, Cheshire. I have a background working in the Charity Sector supporting women and girls around issues such as confidence, self-esteem, sexual assault, domestic abuse and eating disorders. I am a qualified holistic therapist and alongside this, I am currently studying part-time for my MSc in Psychology, whilst also looking after my little boy.
I became a mother in February 2018. Whilst this was the most amazing experience of my life, it was also, at times, the most terrifying. After a traumatic birth experience I was left feeling anxious, alone and like I had failed. During my birth, as a first time mum, I felt very disempowered and like the entire experience was very much out of my control. The impact of this effected the entire first year of my baby’s life, leading to me being diagnosed with Postnatal Anxiety. Through this terrifying time, I was lucky that I had wonderful family and friends to support me. I am happy to say that I am now well and the proud mum to a cheeky, fun and clever almost 2 year old! For many years now, I've had a dream of becoming a Doula. I finally decided to go for it and was busy delving deep in to researching this amazing job role when I became pregnant with our very much wanted little boy. From that moment on all of my energy was diverted in to making sure I got him here safely. Fast forward to today and my dream is stronger than ever, fuelled by my own experience and the overwhelming desire to improve the experience of other mothers.
The Belly Beautiful aims to provide comprehensive Doula services throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Often mothers are left feeling overwhelmed and/or mistreated during this beautiful transition leading to postnatal depression, anxiety and decreased self-esteem. A Doula is a person who Is there to provide support to the entire family throughout the magical journey of bringing life in to the world. Their main jobs are to listen, give confidence and not to judge.
From pregnancy care and advice, birth planning and birth partnering, meditation and massage, relaxation and practical hands on support in the days after birth such as meal prep and child care, the Belly Beautiful aims to provide education, information and support to Mums at the time when they need it most. Alongside one to one services, we would also like to run groups proving creative and personal development opportunities for women to come together, support one another and feel like themselves again post birth. Restorative practices such as therapeutic art and body casting would also be provided to support women with previous birth related trauma, PTSD and body image issues. Everyone wants to hold the baby, but who holds the mother? We do.
Working with a Doula is not just a 'nice to have.' There is a growing body of evidence that shows that having a Doula can mean;
- Reduced risk of Caesarean birth.
- Reduced risk of instrumental birth.
- Reduced need for painkillers or epidural during birth.
- Reduced rate of induction of labour.
- Shorter labour.
- Increased parental satisfaction with the birth experience.
- Increased likelihood of initiating breastfeeding.
- Increased likelihood of successfully establishing breastfeeding & breastfeeding at 6 weeks.
- Lower incidence of depressive symptomatology.
Source: Doula UK.
With all of these amazing benefits, one of the main things I believe about Doula services is that they should be for everyone. It has been proven that having a Doula increases positive outcomes for mothers and it hurts my heart to think that money could stand in the way of some women accessing this. As part of the project and in the longer term, I am hoping to set up a Social Enterprise where I can raise funds for women in vulnerable positions to receive doula services at a reduced cost or hopefully for free. This would include, but is not limited to; young mothers, survivors of domestic abuse, survivors of sexual assault, women from decreased socio-economic backgrounds.
As you can see, I have many dreams for the future. Another one of these is to have a training academy for Doulas and other professionals working with mothers looking to increase their skill set in things such as meditation, therapeutic art, body casting and holistic therapies.
As this is a very new idea, money raised here will be used to fund the start-up costs of the business including:
- Doula Training - around £600-£800
- Body casting training - £600
- A safe and comfortable room or space for classes and support
The key to all of this is getting me off the starting blocks. With a small baby and currently studying, saving for my dreams has been a struggle. I am doing everything I can in order to fund myself and have managed to book on to an introductory Doula workshop next month (December). Without the help of crowd funding, making this dream a reality would take much, much longer. I am itching to get out there to mothers in need and my whole heart is bursting to get started. Each and every penny donated will be so very much appreciated and will go towards ensuring mothers in our local area get access to quality Doula support.
If you've got to the end, thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Know that if you do choose to support me in this dream, no matter how small the donation, you will be making a HUGE difference. Thank you so much for your time.