I work as a Birth and Postnatal Doula, Breastfeeding Peer Supporter and Baby Massage teacher. I am also a qualified Therapeutic Massage Practitioner, specialising in pregnancy and labour. I recently won “Doula of the Year” at the MaMa Conference 2017. Along with Florence Etienne-Jackson I run Nurturing Birth training and mentoring doulas, as well as this Directory, helping parents to find the support they need in pregnancy, birth and the early postnatal period.
Birth can be a positive, satisfying and empowering experience for women and their partners. Having a baby is the most precious, life-changing time and all too often parents come away from it feeling traumatised and disappointed by their experience. I think that every woman deserves emotional and practical support before, during and after childbirth and believe that having a Doula can help towards achieving the experience hoped for.
In preparation for the birth I offer at least three antenatal appointments to talk through any previous births (if applicable), your hopes, fears and expectations of the labour ahead. Together we can put together some birth preferences, allowing for the unpredictability of labour, but ensuring that your desires/needs are met and realised. We will spend time looking at the options available to you and your partner. I will be on call 24 hours a day once you reach 38 weeks pregnancy.
Once in labour I will be in constant attendance to give you confidence, help you make informed decisions, facilitate communication between you and the medical staff, remind you of your wishes and to support both you and your partner. I will stay with you after the birth until mother and baby are settled. After the birth I will visit a couple of times to ensure that all is going well, debrief the birth, and signpost further support if needed.
Post Natal Doula
Far less formal than a maternity nurse, I can come in and help with whatever needs doing in the house – from making sure that there is clean laundry, to running a hoover round, to preparing food (I have a Certificate in Practical Cookery from Leiths School of Food and Wine). I can collect older children from school, walk the dog, pick up groceries or just sit with you and talk through any of your concerns and fears. I will happily support you breast feeding and will be able to show you some techniques to help relieve a baby’s discomfort from colic, reflux, wind, constipation etc. All in all I hope to be able to offer relevant support so that you are able to rest and enjoy your new baby/babies.
Breastfeeding Peer Supporter
Having trained as a Breastfeeding Peer Helper with the Breastfeeding Network in 2011 and then as a Supporter and National Breastfeeding Helpline volunteer in 2017, I attend regular supervisions with my tutor. Most of my breastfeeding work is as a volunteer on the postnatal wards at St Thomas’s hospital or on the National Breastfeeding helpline, however I also support women privately in the community. I am able to visit a mother at home, spend up to two hours with her listening to her history, observing a feed, making some recommendations and signposting further support if needed.
I have been facilitating baby massage groups for parents and babies since 2004 in the SW London area, having trained with Peter Walker of the International School of Developmental Baby Massage and Movement. Courses are run in parents’ homes with a minimum of 4 mums and babies attending. The classes are fun, informal, relaxed and incorporate techniques to help ease baby discomforts, such as colic, reflux, constipation, teething and congestion.
I regularly work with clients birthing at St George’s, (where I am a member of the Maternity Forum), St Thomas’s (where I volunteer on the Postnatal Ward), Chelsea & Westminster, Kingston, Queen Charlotte’s, UCH, Lewisham, St Helier and West Middlesex hospitals. I happily support a full range of births, from elective caesareans, VBACs, breech, multiples, homebirth and waterbirths.
Supporting women and their families through pregnancy, birth and parenting is my passion. Having spent my childhood dreaming about working with babies I took a brief detour in to the world of theatre and film, studying drama at Bristol University, treading the boards, producing/directing some amateur productions, being an extra in TV shows, co-writing a feature film, working as a Casting Assistant and then as Development Executive and Script Editor for a small, independent British film company. None of it was as exciting or glamorous as I thought it might be, and when my first baby arrived I was more than ready to turn my back on that world professionally. Having my babies switched on a lightbulb – I was immediately catapulted back in to my love and interest in all things baby and couldn’t read or learn enough. Having trained to teach baby massage, and working as a pregnancy massage practitioner, the discovery of the doula role was the icing on the cake. I immediately knew I had found what I wanted to do with my life and have since gone on to mentor new doulas, become a doula course facilitator and run Nurturing Birth. My desire to learn hasn’t diminished in any way and I am constantly undertaking courses and further training – 2017 saw me complete my Breastfeeding Network training to become a volunteer on the National Breastfeeding Helpline. If I had endless time I would become a Lactation Consultant so watch this space!
Home with my two kids is near Clapham Common in London where I love walking, preferably with my friend and her dogs. I love animals and would have many more if I could, though my cats would probably be horrified. I practice yoga regularly, enjoy eating and cooking nutritious food, sing in a choir and still love going to the theatre and cinema. My perfect holiday is one where I can devour books! Most of the time is hanging out with my kids though and enjoying the trials and tribulations of motherhood.
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Diploma in Anatomy and Physiology with Distinction - London College of Massage, December 2004
Teacher's Certificate from International School of Developmental Baby Massage and Movement - April 2005
Diploma in Therapeutic Massage, London College of Massage - October 2006
Instructor in Massage in Schools Programme - December 2006
Workshop in Indian Head Massage - London College of Massage, March 2007
Basic First Aid qualification - Triangle Training, April 2008
Masterclass in Massage and Pregnancy - Essentials for Health, June 2008
Birth and Post-natal Doula Training - Nurturing Birth, October 2008
Antenatal Preparation workshop - Expectancy, June 2009
Gentle Birth workshop with Michel Odent and Liliana Lammers - December 2009
Certificate of Recognition as Birth Doula - Doula UK, December 2009
Breastfeeding Study Days with Ruth Tamir and Jack Newman
Waterbirth Study Day with Dianne Garland
Homebirth Study Day with Marie Coveney
Breastfeeding Network Peer Helper course, 2010-2011
Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering - Study Day with Dr Sarah Buckley hosted by Fathers-to-be, May 2011
Breech Birth Study Day, 2011
MAMA conference, Scotland - April 2012
Sex and Birth - study day with anthropologist Sheila Kitzinger - October 2012
MAMA conference, Scotland - April 2013
Malpositioning study day - Feb, 2013
Physiological Birth - Promoting Normality conference - October 2013
The Art of Doula Listening - May 2014
Doula UK Conference - 2014
Doula UK Conference - 2015
Manchester Homebirth Conference - 2015
European Babywearing Conference - 2015
Transformative Health Conference - November 2017 (speaker)
Lambeth Breastfeeding Study Day - September 2015, December 2016, January 2018
Physiological Birth - Promoting Normality conference - September 2015
Portsmouth Positive Birth Conference - keynote speaker - March 2018
Antenatal Teacher Training, Childbirth International - ongoing
Babies in Mind - University of Warwick – ongoing
MaMa Conference, Scotland - 2017 (awarded Doula of the Year)
Breastfeeding Network Supporter and NBH Volunteer course - 2017
MaMa Conference, Glasgow - 2018 (keynote speaker)
With any luck these testimonials from clients will give a better idea of my work:
“My wife and I decided to work with a doula because we wanted the birth of our first child to be a special day with the two of us fully supported and correctly informed on the options available to us. We met with Sophie and found her to be highly skilled and hugely supportive. Each question we had was answered knowledgeably and in a manner that we could understand. Every session we had with her left us feeling more and more comfortable and excited about the birth. Never once did she try and push opinions on us – merely listening to what we wanted and advising how to get what we desired. Every meeting with her was enlightening and prepared us in every way for the birth in ways that the NCT antenatal class never did. Taking the aforementioned NCT classes taught us very little and we found ourselves sharing with members of the class many of the important things we had learned from Sophie.
Without Sophie we would never have known that anything other than what the hospital suggested was an option. Having a doula – and specifically one as experienced, informed and charming as Sophie – changed what is often the hardest day in any woman’s life into the most wonderful, special experience. Sometimes midwives can clash with doulas as they don’t like to be told to do anything different to what they are used to. Every midwife we came in contact with raved about Sophie, many even commenting on her incredible stamina and how much they had learned from her. This has continued post-birth as midwives have visited us and described her as “amazing”, “incredible”, one also adding: “she really taught me a few things I’ll never forget”. During any birth, there are a lot of things happening at once but Sophie ensured that we stayed in control of everything the entire time. As options arose, we were often rushed for an answer. Sophie always ensured we had time to discuss our options with one another and came to a conclusion we were happy with. My wife had a 36-hour labour and Sophie joined us minutes after we said we were ready for her and stayed with us until the glorious end. As it gradually transpired it was going to be a very long labour, we tried to insist she go home for a bit but she happily remained with us, for which we will be eternally grateful because we could not have coped without her. In the end, thanks to Sophie, all our wishes came true. A beautiful little boy was delivered naturally with no drugs despite insistence by hospital staff that it was necessary because of the length of the labour. He came into this world naturally and was being hugged skin-to-skin by my wife within seconds. In short, I cannot recommend Sophie enough to any couple that wish the happiest day of their lives to be as in control and wondrous as ours was. I am happy to be contacted for further information / references. I can honestly say that I hope she remains a part of our son’s life. And I can think of no higher praise than that.”
James, father of Hunter
Sophie “helped me and my partner to feel relaxed and informed. Her presence made me feel everything was ok. In the postnatal period she was fantastic! Coming over the day we got home to check on us, phoning and texting to ask how I was. [Having a Doula] made the birth a fantastic and positive experience. Fantastic value for money and amazing support and kindness”
Robyn Porter, mother of Morven
“You were such a help to have around (always knowing which tasks to carry out around the house to make our life easier, even when I didn’t know myself!) and your advice gave me a lot of much needed confidence in those all important early weeks. Most of all, thank you for your support when R went in to hospital – we look back on that as the only real “dark days” so far, and I know it would have been much harder to deal with had you not been there to give us a quick break from the confines of the hospital room! With the stress of being cooped up in that room and receiving some pretty confusing advice from the doctors, I might easily have given up breastfeeding at that point had you not been there to help me keep my confidence and perspective on things. I’m pleased to say the boys are 5 months old this week and I am still exclusively breastfeeding them, so I’m planning to make it to the 6 month point before introducing any formula. I would not have predicted that 5 months ago!”
Ann, mother of twin boys
“Sophie made what was a special experience truly magical, her support and experience enabled us both to relax and follow our instincts much easier than we could ever have done should she not have been there. She was great with the midwife, showing her respect but still ensuring our wishes were heard. Our midwife since commented that she thought Sophie was amazing and one of the easiest doulas she had ever worked with. We owe Sophie so much for being an essential part of our amazing birth experience and bringing our beautiful son into the world in such a positive way. We can’t imagine what it would have been like without her.”
Clare Orridge, mother of Thomas
“I can never really express how grateful I am for your unbelievable support during the birth of my beautiful daughter Violet. To have a natural birth with this pregnancy was my absolute aim, but whether I would achieve it was a question that lurked in my mind. But I did it! All because of your strength and support. Thank you also for the support you have given me post-birth. I have felt relaxed and able to bond welll”
Sally Nash, mother of Violet
“Just wanted to let you know that if it wasn’t for your help when you visited me and Sid in December 2011 then I would not have managed to breastfeed Sid for the 12 months I did. You spotting a possible anterior tongue tie led to him having the snip within a week at Kings and breastfeeding became a wonderful experience and the thrush went within a week.”
C Bradley, mother of Sid