Anne trained as a doula with Nurturing Birth in June 2015. Since then, she’s been a full time doula based in Northern Ireland.
Are you primarily a birth or postnatal doula?
I love doing both birth and postnatal doulaing, but the demand seems to be primarily for birth doulas here in Northern Ireland. We’re working on that!
When did you first hear about doulas?
About 10 years ago, I was living in Eastern Europe and whileI was there I came across an article about doulas in a women’s magazine. It seemed so idyllic and made so much sense to have someone you could trust to guide and reassure new parents throughout pregnancy, birth and the early days with a newborn. I decided that it’s what I would like to do when I returned to Northern Ireland, or when I retire. I would have loved to have had a doula at my births and postnatally, but unfortunately I didn’t know about them 30 years ago!
What were you doing before you trained as a doula?
I had been living overseas for almost 30 years and was looking forward to returning home. My 3 children are all grown up and whilst I had done various jobs whilst travelling, I now felt that it was my time to do something on my terms, something that I felt passionate about. I’ve always worked or volunteered in the social care sector, and in fact was a family support volunteer with a local charity, https://www.tinylife.org.uk/ when I was doing the Nurturing Birth doula training. My working career spanned from the bank, administration in public and private hospitals and international schools overseas, childminding, disability development management, support work at homeless drop in centre and eventually to the best job in the world – being a doula!
Had you been at any births before training to be a doula?
Yes, I supported my sister at her second birth many years ago and was completely blown away to see my niece enter this world, especially as the midwives had already left the room when her wee head started to crown. I felt very fortunate to get a glimpse of a natural birth, with baby deciding when it was the right time to be born. As a result of that experience I looked into training as a midwife but then we moved to live overseas for almost 30 years… I’m a firm believer in everything happening for a reason and I now know that I was never meant to be a midwife.
What made you decide to train as a doula?
We were planning to return to UK to live and after having done various jobs for many years, due to moving around, I decided to look again at training to be a midwife. I sought advice from a midwife friend who was a senior lecturer in midwifery, about doing the degree, and we also talked about doula training.
There were not many doulas in Northern Ireland, and as I love a challenge I decided to do the doula training first and then see if I should look more into the midwifery degree. However, the more I delved into being a doula and looked at the various training courses, the more I could relate to becoming a doula rather than a midwife. Honestly, as soon as I commenced the Nurturing Birth doula training, I felt like I’d found my true calling! I just wished I had discovered this path earlier in my life.
I’ve always been fascinated by birth and babies, loving the mystery and magic that surrounds this life-changing event. It would have been pure bliss to have had a doula at my births, especially my first when I laboured most of the time on my own. I can also appreciate the need for postnatal support for various reasons, but especially if the family don’t have any other support at all with a newborn. I came away from that course full of enthusiasm for birth, feeling that everyone should know what we were taught at the course. After all, birth is such an important and exciting life-changing event in most people’s lives.
What do you love most about being a doula?
So many things!
It’s the best job ever!
I’ve always been a ‘people person’ and thrive on caring for others. Being a doula takes this to another level. I love meeting new families, taking time to get to know them and growing our relationship together. It really feels amazing when a family I’ve been supporting is confident and knowledgeable about labour and birth, and the fire lights in my belly when they make informed decisions about their own birthing journey. It sounds very clichéd, but it really is an honour to be with a family as they prepare to meet their precious wee baby, to support their pregnancy journey, and then to be with them throughout labour and birth. There’s nothing quite like it in the world, witnessing the birth of a baby! There is laughter, joy and tears, all surrounded by excitement and anticipation.
My beautiful granny is my inspiration. She was in her 30s before she had the first of 6 children, including a first breech birth followed by a premature birth, all born at home and all breastfed until 9 months old. She also supported other labouring mummies in her neighbourhood, because that’s what women did in those days, until the doctor arrived! A doula before her time!
What do you find challenging about being a doula?
There are a couple of things that I personally find challenging being a doula. It’s tough sometimes to say goodbye to families, especially when you became a part of their precious pregnancy and birthing journey. But supporting families to feel empowered and confident is all part of my role, so saying goodbye is also a sign of success – so I keep telling myself!
The other thing that I find really challenging is the lack of knowledge and awareness there is generally on what a doula’s role is, not only in society but also in the maternity services. This is something I’ve been working on for the past 6 years, trying to raise awareness about doulas. Since the pandemic it has really become even more evident that our role is misunderstood, and our importance to our client has been underestimated. It is vital for everyone who is managing maternity services to remember that it’s the woman or birthing person’s choice to have a doula, and therefore we are an essential part of their birth team.
What do you want from the future/where do you see doulaing taking you?
A couple of years ago I started a podcast (Let’s doula it!) to raise awareness about doulaing in NI, which has proved to be a great success! So, I will continue will that. I’m also a founder of the first doula collective in NI (https://www.doulasni.co.uk/) and I absolutely love working with other like-minded doulas! We are able to combine our expertise and specialities to offer a wide, specialised service tailored to the individual family’s requirements. There has never been a better reason to work together since the pandemic! Doulas need doulas!
I’m also actively involved with Doula UK. I cherish supporting other doulas and seeing them blossom into amazing professionals.
In the future I’d love to see doulas recognised as much more than birth partners, as a vital part of the woman’s or birthing person’s birthing team. I really enjoy building relationships with midwives and obstetricians, demonstrating how we complement each other and provide families with the care and respect they deserve.
I know I’m very lucky to have found my calling, and to be able to go where life leads me on this amazing doula journey!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just in case I never have enough to do, I also volunteer for AIMS on the campaigns team! I feel that to campaign for any improvement to maternity services is always worthwhile 🙂
Anne Glover’s Nurturing Birth Directory Entry is here: https://nurturingbirthdirectory.com/doulas/united-kingdom/county-antrim/belfast/anne-glover/
Anne’s email: email@example.com
Anne’s Doula Group website: https://www.doulasni.co.uk/
Facebook: Doula Anne Glover (https://www.facebook.com/doulaanneg)
Facebook: HypnoBirthing Anne Glover (https://www.facebook.com/HypnoBirthingAnneGloverNI)