"When I became pregnant last year I asked Fiona to be my doula. I did not use a doula for my first child’s birth instead choosing an independent midwife. Second time around I wanted to make sure I felt supported in a more personal way and also that my husband was well supported. I know that to birth well I needed reassurance and solid support offered in a sensitive and discreet way. I was also keen that my husband and I had some back up if we needed to go to hospital to ensure that our wishes for a gentle humane birth were carried out as far as circumstances would allow. I am delighted to say that Fiona provided us with all that we hoped for and more. I went into labour at 36 weeks. Fiona came to our aid immediately and accompanied us to hospital where she was a wonderful reassuring presence throughout. I was particularly grateful for the way in which she was able to keep us both calm and normalise the situation and the way in which she acted as an advocate for my wishes and needs whilst also being respectful of the NHS staff and their requirements. I am so glad we had Fiona with us and I felt her presence throughout gave me the extra confidence to birth completely naturally and without intervention of any kind despite considerable pressure to lie on my back and be monitored etc.
I felt it was a very important decision choosing someone to be present at the birth of my child and not one which I or my husband took lightly. I felt I could trust Fiona to be both professional and provide an intimate level of support."
"Amazing - Fiona was just the most incredible support to our family - I leaned so heavily on her during a very long labour - stayed away from pain relief and intervention. She also left a bag of lovely food as it was a bank holiday and I was starving! Fiona was a wonderful doula and woman. Doulas rock, they are so important and their commitment and energy should never be underestimated - amazing women."
"As first time parents we had little knowledge about the birth process. In Fiona's classes we learned very useful techniques for my partner to use during birth to help me to ease the pain, for him to be more involved in the process to feel part of it and to know what to expect and how to be helpful. These classes gave me an empowering and assuring feeling of female strength and capabilities. I learned how to position my body, how to breathe during contractions and how to stay within this beautiful process of giving birth. With Fiona's strong calming appearance and knowledge she has about birth we feel ready to have a home birth and welcome our baby."
"I realise that pain whether physical or emotional, passes. That`s what you taught me when giving birth to J. You said it will pass, let it pass, and that felt so relevant at the time, and I apply that now when it comes to sticky situations. I've got you to thank for that. If anything's going to register, it`s sure to register when giving birth, and it did."
"Fiona's support enabled us to not only emotionally prepare for the birth of our daughter but made the whole experience less full of fear and one we will cherish."
"Thank you for all of your support, friendship and help over the last nine months. Your quiet strength and steady hands helped hold me together at the times I wavered. I'm so glad you were there. It was high drama at times, but at least you didn't have to catch the baby!"
"Fiona’s support to me both before and during the birth was more than I could have hoped for and was above and beyond the contract we signed. I believe that her amazing support was instrumental in enabling me to have the birth I had dreamed of.
Common to many Mums to be I had lots of concerns about the birth, and Fiona helped me to think these through and gave me the ideas, resources and benefit of her considerable skills and experience to develop a birth plan that I was happy with and had confidence in. She put me in touch with a fantastic midwife who was able to be at the birth. One of the things I value most of all was her helping me to identify and deal with fears (‘tigers’) I had about birth. It was so liberating to unmask them and face them down that I believe it gave me the confidence in myself to be relaxed, optimistic and realistic about what to expect and so helped me have an unencumbered, totally natural, peaceful and beautiful birth at home.
Fiona gave me shiatsu massages in the weeks leading up to the birth that were wonderfully relaxing and helped with the discomforts that I was experiencing as a heavily pregnant woman. During the birth I used a particular technique she recommended and believe that it helped with my contractions.
Fiona was generous with her time. I am a single mother and she really jumped into her role as a birth partner, attending antenatal classes with me whenever she could and just being there to talk things through with me whenever I needed. It is not possible to put into words how much this meant to me, and how much I still appreciate her support at that time.
I had attended some fantastic antenatal yoga classes and the teacher offered a birth breathing session for the mother and birth partner, and Fiona came along to that with me. In fact I used yogic breathing as my only source of pain relief during the birth and with Fiona calmly, gently and sensitively guiding me with her voice with the breathing techniques that we had learned I felt focused, empowered, strong and at peace.
In the last stages of the birth, immediately after and in the first few days following the birth Fiona’s skills in homeopathic medicine were very welcomed in giving me extra help to deal with fatigue and soreness. I lost a little more blood than ideal in the birth and became anaemic and did not want to take iron tablets or injections, and the midwife was happy for me to try to raise my levels naturally. Fiona helped me identify natural products and foods that would help with this, and indeed within a fortnight I was feeling much better.
Throughout the pregnancy my baby was lying transversely (horizontally) and in the latter weeks I was told that if the baby did not put its head down I would have to have an external manipulation. I did not want this and sought Fiona’s advice. She pointed me to a well-respected osteopath, a website (spinning babies) and helped me with moxibustion. After each of these treatments I felt the baby moving around a lot, and I believe the combination helped ensure that the day before ‘D-day’ my baby gave an almighty shift and when the midwife checked on the allotted day the baby was in the desired position.
After the birth, Fiona was present by ‘phone and came to visit. My baby and I had a bit of a tough start because she had an unusual tongue tie that was not diagnosed for five weeks. In the interim, Fiona put me in touch with various breastfeeding support organisations and people which greatly helped. Her support and belief in me at this difficult time was invaluable in giving me the strength to persevere.
I cannot recommend Fiona Willis highly enough as a doula. Her training and skills are perfectly attuned to supporting a woman in pregnancy and birth and the early days of being a Mum. Her wide experience and network of contacts gives the woman she is supporting a huge breadth of first hand experiences to learn from. Most of all her kindness, gentleness, wisdom and readiness to fight for what you want to have a beautiful birth will mean I will forever treasure her role in the birth of my wonderful daughter."
"I knew that I wanted Fiona to attend my birth the very first time I met her, months before I'd even decided to have another baby!! When the time came, her presence gave me reassurance and support like no other. Even with a wonderful midwife to support me at my home birth, and my partner, I felt that Fiona offered me something else; something that came from a long line of wise women and ancient birthing magic. It's hard to put into words, but I think you just know when you meet her, that having her share your birth experience is an honour for you both (and baby of course!). On a practical note, Fiona's ante-natal visits were informative and practical. She offered as many bespoke sessions as we wanted, and provided us with a practical toolkit to help before, during and after the birth.
The thing that is evident about Fiona is that she is committed to on-going training in her field, and brings with her an encyclopedic knowledge about all things woman, health and birth!
I could say so much more but think I'd better stop. I'm happy for women to contact me directly for more information on my home birth experience, and also the benefits of having a doula at a hospital birth too - I've experienced both."
"Around seven months into my wife’s pregnancy we decided to hire a doula. As this was going to be our first child, we were naturally anxious to ensure everything went as smoothly as possible. Both my wife and I were unfortunately unable to depend on our own families through her pregnancy and felt we needed emotional and practical support.
When we initially met Fiona we were struck by her gentle, positive manner and vast knowledge of birth and women’s health in general. We instantly felt a connection and although she asked us to think it over before we officially hired her, we knew there and then that she would accompany us on the most emotionally charged journey of our lives.
It would be a decision that greatly benefited us on our path to parenthood. Fiona prepared us with emotional exercises to deal with the stresses of labour. She dazzled us with allegorical birth stories and developed our understanding of the entire birthing process with her unparalleled technical knowledge. She introduced us to a vast lexicon of words that reinforce the positive aspects of pregnancy and birth.
When my wife approached the nine-month point, we were shocked to learn that our baby had turned breech. Fiona’s subsequent support enabled us to get through a frightening time. She offered us insight into the possibilities for a natural breech birth, and encouragement in helping the baby to turn using TCM techniques and physical exercises. The moxibustion she performed seemed to have a gentle but powerful effect; two weeks later the baby did indeed turn head down and we could not have been more relieved.
As we approached the 43rd week, my wife went into natural labour at home. We had planned for a water birth. Fiona was by my wife’s side for around seven hours straight, offering her words of reassurance, and small but hugely important aids such as a cold compress across her forehead, pouring water over her back, and spraying organic rosewater onto her face to keep her awake through each surge. On my own, I would have been too emotionally charged to think about giving my wife these practical supports.
During the final stages of labour, Fiona’s presence was key. She helped move my wife, who had been in one position for several hours, to ensure the baby was not deprived of oxygen on her passage into this world. She helped the midwives quickly position me on a birth ball and had my wife sit on my lap for the final surges. Our daughter Annabel was born naturally at home and we could not be more grateful that the first person to lay eyes on Annabel (aside from the midwives present!) was the truly amazing Fiona Willis.
In the hours following the birth she continued to bring support and comfort to me and my wife. My own emotional state following the birth was very erratic. Fiona began to talk to me about birth in general, and in particular the various approaches to birth around the world. This helped ground me as I realised that we had just experienced the most natural of events.
The follow-up care in the next two weeks was equally as valuable. Fiona explained about the journey we were about to embark on as parents, and answered practical questions we had regarding slings, baby clothes and routines.
My wife and I could not recommend Fiona more highly. Her affable, warm and caring manner is beneficial in even the most trying of situations. Her knowledge on various cultures’ approach to birth is so impressive that no matter who you are, where you are from, or what type of birth you seek, we have no doubt that she can help you. One of Fiona’s finest qualities is that she is a keen listener. During the three months we spent with her, she listened carefully to everything we had to say whether she agreed with it or not - and to have that kind of support is simply incredible. Hiring her was one of the best decisions we have ever made!"
"I cannot thank you enough for being with us through this beautiful and magical process. It was an honour to experience the birth of my first, to see my wife in all her power and glory, held by a woman as strong as yourself. Thank you. You have ensured a safe passage for our little atomic love bomb into this world, for this I am ever grateful!"
"Thank you for everything you did to make L's birth so wonderful. You seemed to have a sixth sense about what I needed and when, and gave us both the confidence to have the home birth we wanted. It was such a special experience to have you and Noreen as my 'anchors'. You really have a unique and special gift and I'm so thrilled that I was able to experience it. Thank you!"
"I just wanted to say thank you so much for listening and for all your support with preparing for birth, I now have a plan in place so I am feeling much more prepared to have a positive birth experience."
"Thank you for your invaluable, incredible support surrounding A's birth. It would have been a very different experience without you! During the last few weeks, my pregnancy did sometimes feel like I was wandering in a dark unknown place. But at each step I was able to rely on you 100% for support and simply an ear to listen, and I was so grateful for that. You have an incredible talent for creating stability and confidence in others - and combined with your encyclopedic knowledge of birth, that makes you the ideal person to have around an such an unpredictable time. Needless to say your words of wisdom have also resonated through the rollercoaster first few weeks of parenthood!"
" I cannot begin to describe the thanks and gratitude I have for you. Also the respect, honour and love. You were truly remarkable. You were the island my little bobbing boat took shelter in. I shared something with you, so unique I'm trying to work it through. Trauma, despair, love, hope, utter joy.
For protecting the woman I love and guiding the son I now have I thank you, thank you, thank you."
© 2016 Fiona Willis, all rights reserved