Hello and welcome to the first entry in my brand new:
The Dragonfly Doula Blog!
I would really like this Blog to be a space where I can share more detail on the many and varied topics that I post about on my social media pages so that I can go into greater depth than is possible on a post with a limited character count!
So where should I start? Well, I thought I would start by sharing a bit more about me, my background, how I got to where I am today and why I love what I do! Sound good? Then read on ...
So my name is Natalie, I am the eldest of 3 children (I have two younger brothers) and I was born in Kenya! My dad spent his entire working life in the aviation industry and the majority of that time was spent living abroad in countries such as Kenya, Egypt, Thailand, Brazil, Japan ... the list goes on. I was in the very privileged position of being able to visit all these wonderful places, meet a plethora of people from all walks of life, see and experience the sights and sounds of different lands and landscapes and my particular favourite- learn about different cutures and customs, a keen interest still to this day! I lived with my parents, abroad as an ex-pat, until the age of 9 when I started boarding school in the UK, in order to give my education some stability and consistency. Boarding school was both a wonderful and heartbreaking experience. I loved living with my friends, spending all day and night making memories with them and having adventures in the school grounds and around the boarding house. However, living away from your parents from the age of 9 is tough- I had to grow up quickly and become self sufficient, organised, resilient and independent from a very early age. Skills that have set me in good stead on my journey through life- thus far!
At school I always wanted to do some sort of caring work but could never quite settle on what! At first I wanted to be a Norlands Nanny- training to be the best in my field. Then I cycled through primary school teacher, nursery nurse, school nurse etc. When it came to higher education I decided to follow my passion for languages and travel and my careers advisor thought this would be a good option- opening up a world of possibilities to me post university. I went to Sounthampton University and studied Spanish & Portuguese, spending my year abroad studying in both Lisbon and Barcelona. When I graduated I was still unsure of the path that would suit me best and I struggled at first to find a job that fitted with my experience and personality. In time I found a job working at The University of Surrey in their languages department, supporting the lecturers with their admin and facilitating the IELTS (English as an Additional Language exams). After a few years I realised that I didn't want to do the admin anymore, I wanted to be in the classroom teaching, sharing knowledge and building relationships with the students, so I made a plan to re-train as a secondary school teacher. After gaining experience volunteering in local schools and youth groups I was successful in gaining a place at St Mary's University, Twickenham to do my teacher training and after my PGCE I started work as a Spanish & French teacher- spending 16 happy years as Head of Department and supporting hundereds of students through their language studies.
Alongside teaching I had become a mum to 3 children of my own and my passion for all things birth related had been ignited! My husband was highly impressed by my ability to absorb information about pregnancy and birth, frequently encouraging me to consider retraining as a midwife. But the role of midwife didn't quite fit with my personality, interests and the future I wanted for our family. Then in late 2019 I was watching a BBC news report about a woman who had retrained as a doula when she retired and suddenly the role I was looking for came into focus- I needed to be a doula!
Within 2 months I had attended a Doula UK introductory workshop, spoken to a number of doula training course providers and found my tribe- 'Developing Doulas'. I spent an amazing and intense 5 days in Cambridge training to be a birth and postnatal doula and my life was changed forever! I had found my purpose- supporting families through one of the most incredible transitions of their lives. I came away energised, inspired and raring to go in the birth world ...but then Covid-19 hit and we went into lockdown. No contact with other people outside our household, no opportunities to meet and make connections with new people, no possibility of supporting families in person! But never fear, I didn't sit on my laurels- I used the time to train as a Hypnobirthing instructor with the wonderful Wendy & Melissa from The Little Birth Company and a Mindful Breastfeeding Supporter with the amazing Anna LeGrange from The Mindful Breastfeeding School and both these elements of my practice have been indespensable as I support my clients antenatally and postnatally. Since training in February 2020 I have had the privilege of supporting families at their homebirths, in hospital on delivery suite and in the birthing centres and in theatre for the birth of their babies and I have worked postnatally with families for anywehere from a couple of days emergency support to over a year of continuous care. Each and every experience has been unique, beautiful, powerful and emotional. I learn so much from each and every family I work with (large and small) and am so grateful that I get to do this life changing work.
Three and a half years on from my career change I cannot believe how far I have come and the opportunities and experiences I have had- long may they continue! Can I believe where little old me has come from and where I am today? No! Am I happy to have made the leap and changed my life for the better? Absolutely!
'She believed she could, so she did' was my motto on day one of my leap of faith into the unknown world of birth work and it still is my motto today- for me, my clients, my doula colleagues, my own family and everyone I come into contact with. Believe you can and you will!