More and more of my photography clients come to the studio, and as they share their birth stories, they often mention their doula. And yet doula’s can still be a bit misunderstood or unknown. So I thought what better way to find out about doula’s than to invite one onto our virtual couch. Meet Kimberley Boyd, a lovely Lincolnshire-based doula (https://www.kimberleyboyd.co.uk)

The video is subtitled, but if you’d prefer to read at your own pace then there’s a transcript below just for you. 

Elli:
Hello, everybody. Thanks for joining us. And today I’m with Kimberly Boyd, she’s got a business that she’s supporting you through pregnancy birth and beyond., Kimberly, somebody whose name all my clients mentions so often, I think you are a lady probably with many hats. Is that a fair description, Kimberly, would you say?

Kim: Yes. I’ve added a few over the years.

Elli: It’s always been really good praise, feedback and recommendations. And we just chatted a little bit before we went live and we’ve never actually met in person. So this is the closest it’s felt like having a proper conversation with you. It’s great to finally meet you.

Kim: Definitely, and we will meet in person one day.

Elli: And do coffee and cake when this is done. Absolutely. But we had it in the diary, we didn’t meet before lock down and then they threw lockdown in. I’m going to dive in with a random first question, which is we’ll go through kind of the different things you offer, but I know one of the things that you offer is that you’re a doula and it’s a bit of a Marmite word, some people know what it is, some people got random connotations linked to it. And some people are like, what is a doula? So in your words, what do you do?

Kim: Yeah, I get it a lot. Still people ask, when they say, what do you do for a job? I say, ‘I’m a doula.’ I get that ‘a what?’. And so basically, what I do is I provide emotional, practical and educational support to women before, during, and after the birth of their baby. So I’m not a midwife, I haven’t got any clinical or medical training, what I am there to do is just to support you. I’m a constant sort of support person, right through your pregnancy, right through your birth, I’ll stay with you like a birth coach, support you through your labour, not replacing your birth partner, so not replacing your husband. I’m there to support them just as much as you. I like to say that your husband is your right arm, and I’m your left arm, and together, we will support you and get you through your birth and your labor, and then postnatally just being in the home with you, whatever your needs are really.

Elli: I think people forget that when you’re in labor, it is all about you because you’re the one, that’s the mum that’s carrying the baby. But for the other partner, whether it’s second mom or dad or husband, it’s, um, it’s quite a scary, stressful time for them as well. Isn’t it? And I know that my first experience of birth was I was my mum’s birth partner when she had my younger brother, I would have been 18. And I was her birth partner, not because I was really keen to be, but because my stepdad is a fainter and hates hospitals and just was as useful as a chocolate mudguard, no fireguard, that’s the one I’m after! So, I kind of got flung in the deep end, but that made me realize that actually you always presume that your partner, if you have a partner, is going to be there holding your hand. And actually they’re not always mentally able to do that for you are they? So I guess it’s kind of,…

Kim: Yeah. And I think it’s, for me, it’s educating them as well so that they understand everything that’s happening. And I always say knowledge is power. If you understand everything and you know how you can help your partner effectively, you’re going to be such a better birth partner. And then the woman is going to have a better birth experience because of that,

Elli: I think as well the other thing that I’ve always picked up on, on your Facebook posts and when you are helping women out on comments and stuff, even within our group, is you always saying, you often have choices. And I think sometimes when you’re the woman, not just in labor, but in your pregnancy, if the doctor or nurse says to you, you know, this is going to happen or that’s going to happen, you don’t always realize that actually you’ve often got a choice within that as to whether you want that to happen or not.

Kim: Absolutely so many women don’t realize that they have choices and you know, it’s their body and their baby at the end of the day? And you know, the medical professionals are there to guide you and to offer you, you know, these options, but ultimately at the end of the day, you’re the one that’s making the decision about your care. And that’s, I’m glad you picked upon that because that’s one of the massive reasons why I’m doing what I do today is because I just didn’t know any of this when I had my own children, and felt I had no choice at all in anything that happened to me.

Elli: So if I get this right, your job then is to kind of inform and educate the parents on what their options are on what those different outcomes will mean and help them make the best choice for them.

Kim: Yeah. So we don’t, we don’t give advice. We’re not, you know, we’re not supposed to tell you what to do. That’s the right way to do this. That’s the way to do that. It’s absolutely every person that we work with will be different. Every woman will have different visions of how she wants things to be, and take different paths and we will support whatever that is, as long as they are making the right choices for them. And that they are informed decisions from, you know, from a place of knowledge.

Elli: That sounds good. So the other thing that I was massively drawn to with you when I looked at your amazing lovely website was, you do, hypnobirthing classes, which is something that’s always fascinated me, but wasn’t really around or not around locally when, I mean, my, my eldest is 13 now, so that wasn’t really something that I could find available to me at the time anyway. So what exactly is hypnobirthing? What does that involve?

Kim: Yeah. So again, I think that’s another thing that is known about, but people don’t truly understand what it is. I think there’s a big myth that it’s kind of just for women that want an actual sort of, you know, Zen birth.

Elli: The first thing in my mind would have been like very, hippie-ish very non-medical at the same time. So like no gas and air, no anything just purely rigid hypno.

Kim: So what it is is, I mean, it’s hypnosis for birth, and people see hypnosis as sort of on a stage, you know, a man clicks his fingers, he makes you do things and that’s not, I’m not, I can’t wave a magic wand to make you have a perfect birth, I’m not that good. It’s self hypnosis, we’re teaching you how to use self hypnosis. And in a nutshell, we will sort of go over how the body works in birth, how the mind works and how those two need to match and work together. For it all to go, you know, the way it should do,

Elli: because again, knowledge is power kind of thing?

Kim: Yeah exactly, and obviously teach you skills of how to get in the right mindset and it can be used for any birth. I mean, I used it myself in my elective caesarean. So, you know, it’s not just anybody, it’s just having those tools and they’re tools that are within you that you can have anytime, anywhere.

Elli: I like the sound of that. So when you do your hypnobirthing normally, normal time, when we’re not in this crazy lockdown state, we’re in, it’s mainly in person classes, is that right? Is that how you normally do them?

Kim: Sort of a six hour workshop that I do and at the moment I’ve only done them in Legbourne and Horncastle, and I can do in other areas. But yeah, that’s not possible at the moment.

Elli: So with it not being possible at the moment, and we’ve got loads of mums stuck at home, probably more stressed than normal because pregnancy is stressful anyway, adding into it, the fact that you can’t go out and get antenatal classes and support groups and classes like your own. Is there anything that they can do online with you is there anywhere they can access help with you online at all?

Kim: So, all my services are available just as they were face to face, but, like this via zoom. So you have the option to do the full workshop, as I would deliver it, well pretty much as I was would deliver it face to face at a time, you know, to suit you over zoom, or I’ve got a cheaper option where we just do a one hour sort of initial chat, then I’ll leave you with the online content and we’ll do a followup after it as well. So that’s more, you can kind of do bits of it as when it suits you rather than doing it all in one block, if that makes sense.

Elli: Yeah. Yeah. That sounds good. Absolutely. If any of you in the group have done any of this, and you found it helpful, or have got any feedback, shove it in the comments below, because it’d be lovely to sort of see whose accessed what, and I know quite a few of you have worked with Kimberly on different things. So the other things that you offer as well, just before I forget, is you also, what else do you do cause you, do you still do baby massage?

Kim: Yep. Yeah. Still doing my baby massage. But I do a little bit of baby yoga, but mainly massage classes.

Elli: I think that’s where lots of my clients come in raving about it and say, it’s been ever so good doing that with you.

Kim: And that’s where it all started. You know, that’s where my business started, six years ago, baby massage. And I would say it’s my kind of expertise area. I absolutely just, still after six years of doing it, adore teaching baby massage.

Elli: If you’re like me, I’m really missing the newborn cuddles at the minute. I know I like them at work and I get my fix at work, but I’m actually craving that little hot warm bundle of a baby to hold, so those of you with babies at home, oh enjoy that, and give them a cuddle from us pair because I do miss that.

Kim: Definitely I just miss everybody, the mums and the babies.

Elli: Yeah, it’s a nice social isn’t it , it’s a good kind of community feeling. Especially if you’re, I know when I have my children, I didn’t know any of the moms in the area. I was like the first within my group to have kids. So it was all the kind of baby groups and baby classes where it’s a great way of networking and meeting other new mums which was good. And just to have someone who’s going through the same stages, roughly the same time you are, which is also really nice.

Kim: I always say that, you know, one of the biggest benefits that the mum come into the classes, that social aspect. And I think a lot of mums don’t realize how much the class benefits them. And they think that, you know, it’s just massage for the baby. But I think probably the benefits to the mum outweighs the benefits for the baby sometimes.

Elli: I can totally relate to that, I think, yeah, you’re right. And also I know that the baby massage, one of my daughters was exceptionally windy, just always struggled. And the baby massage is the one thing we did night through night after night. And it made such a big difference to her. And I do that loads on the babies I get in the studio and I’m photographing them. You can sort of see when they’ve got these full tummyies and it’s like taut like a balloon. So it’s all those old techniques I learnt, that helps get that out. So, from a non baby massage expert, it really, really, really works., that’s definitely something I’d consider. Now there’s another thing I wanted to ask. And if we’ve got time, which was one of the mum’s Jane in our group was saying that she feels that because they can’t get out and access anything, she felt quite under prepared for everything, like there aren’t any government antenatal classes or anything you can attend anymore at the moment. So are there any good old fashioned breathing techniques and tips and things that you could chat about with us?

Kim: Yeah, I mean…

Elli: Is breathing important?

Kim: Breathing is so important, but you know, your breath is always there, always with you. It’s always something you’ve got. And the power of the breath is really understated, so, you know, at any time during your pregnancy that you just feel really sort of stressed or tense or worried, the first thing I always say is just stop. Just find your breath, take a deep breath in and then exhale. And that, just that alone, calms you instantly. A breathing technique I use quite a lot, it’s just a box breath. It’s really simple, so you breathe in for four, hold for four, out for four, hold for four and just repeat. You can even visualize it, you know, drawing a box in your mind as you’re breathing.

Elli: Right. Let’s do it. Let’s go for it shall we?

Kim: It just stills all those thoughts, all that monkey brain thoughts and calms you instantly. Okay, let’s do it. So take a breath in two, three, four, hold two, three, four out two, three, four, hold two, three, four. And again, in two, three, four, hold two, three, four out two, three, four, hold two, three, four, and actually it’s a really easy one to remember .

Elli: You feel it slow your heartbeat down as you’re doing I feel it’s all just… I hope you did that along with us, if not go try it because that is quite effective I think. Is that something that would work in labor as well?

Kim: Yeah, so usually between contractions it’s an easier breath, but during your contractions, you want a longer out breath. So we usually do the four, eight breath then. So a deep breath in for four and then a long slow exhalation for eight counts out as if you’re blowing it away.

Elli: The funny one is, labour pains aren’t like anything else are they, there’s not really something you can compare it to if you’re pregnant and it’s your first child. But I know that, I remember finding that every time I got a contraction, you’re used to holding your breath when we’re in pain. Like if something is ,you think something’s going to be painful or something is sore, you tend to hold your breath. And I know definitely when you’re breathing out, it kind of helps you work through that pain. Is that the right way of describing it?

Kim: Yeah. It’s fear tension pain cycle kind of explained in the course and that yeah, if you hold onto your breath, everything’s tense and it’s not working as effectively. You’re going to feel that pain more. Cause you’re feeling the pain more, you become more fearful. So then you’re more tense. So then you just go around this loop. So you have to break that cycle and you have to calm yourself down to allow your muscles to relax, to allow your body to work and the pain it sounds crazy, but the pain will lessen the more calm and relaxed you are and the more you’re breathing effectively.

Elli: That’s a brilliant tip, thank you. So a massive thank you for your time. Just before we go, if you’ve got any other general kind of tips or anything you think might help all those new mums or mums-to-be stuck at home, having a bit of a panic? It’s a big open ended one to throw at you there, I know!

Kim: I’ve been saying to everybody, this little quote, focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. So really look for the positives in every day. And it might be the tiniest little thing you got out of bed and got dressed, praise yourself for that, you know, and just be kind to yourself and take one day at a time. And you know, you will get through it.

Elli: Perfect. Massive. Thank you. And we’ll put all your links to your page on your website in this feed below us here. If any of you have got any questions, when you’re watching this feel free to pop them in and Kimberly and I’ll come back through and answer what we can, mainly Kimberly because I don’t really know much, unless it’s about picture taking! Thank you very, very much for your time. And I look forward to doing a proper coffee and cake in person, hopefully in the near future.

Kim: Thank you. Bye bye.