2015 saw Nicola have the incredible experience of delivering a TED talk – have a look and let us know what you think.
“We both feel so happy to have chosen you as our doula, your positive energy, calmness, wisdom and kindness have made the whole experience a really positive one”
Nicola grew up in South London from a deeply rooted South London Irish heritage amongst hip hop culture and became a Muslim and then a mama all by the age of 24. She believes she was always destined to do this work – she was named after the maternity ward she was born in, her mother was named after her midwife (Olga being a rather unusual name choice in 1930’s Leeds!) and her sister began attending births way before her. She has just welcomed her niece to this work – its in the genes.
Living close by to international best-selling author, teacher and obstetrician Michel Odent and Lilianna Lammers in South London she was lucky enough to be amongst the first Paramana doulas officially taking his course in 2002. She didn’t actually know what a doula was until she read the leaflet and realised it’s what had been happening organically within her community and family for as long as she could remember! What really astounded her whilst on the course was the simplicity of their ideas and also the scientific evidence for all of their arguments. The simple practices and how effective they were was inspirational. It was so exciting! On embarking on the course she had no intention of making a career as a doula but by the time it had finished she was so inspired by what she had learnt that she decided she had no choice but to share this with other women. Support for women during the childbearing period is very important and she feels privileged to be a part of this time.
Moving to Edinburgh, Scotland in 2004 Nicola became one of the founding members of the Scottish Doula Network.
She is a member of the following professional organizations: (click for more info)
AIMS (Association for Improvement in Maternity Services) a maternity support and campaign group who have revolutionised childbirth in the UK, she supports wholeheartedly.
PPC (Pregnancy and Parents Centre)
She has had several articles about birth and doulas published in the local and national press and is active in promoting the concept of doula support and authentic birthkeepers internationally. She works as a birth and postnatal doula in Edinburgh and London and within one hours travelling distance.
She also has a Dip Ed in Antenatal Education with Luton University and the National Childbirth Trust and now teaches independently with one to one sessions – she is available for privately arranged classes and occasionally organises to facilitate groups. She spent many years facilitating for the NCT in both cities. Many years ago she completed the Scottish Birth Teachers course to enhance her skills with both antenatal yoga and facilitating groups for mothers. This course provides small group work with some of the most inspirational people in childbirth today such as independent midwives, professors of midwifery, outstanding yoga teachers, birth activists and academics.
For some years she worked as a lay-doula in South London in her local community whilst also working as an aromatherapist. As well as aromatherapy she hold qualifications in holistic massage, anatomy and physiology and reiki I and II. Alongside this she also has practical experience in acupressure, counselling and homeopathy, herbs and other traditional birthkeeper skills.
After working together for several years Nicola became the main facilitator on the Mindful Doulas core workshop programme put together by Scottish doula extraordinaire and author Adela Stockton. 2014 saw the launch of Red Tent Doulas which is a radical new preparation programme for women who support new families around birth – preparing themselves for the work by self-development and also education. She began this organisation alongside Hannah Robertson in order to share what she had learnt over the last 20 years with the next generation of birthkeepers.
She tries to keep her knowledge base up to date and in the past has studied with Ina May Gaskin , Jane Evans breech specialist midwife, Michel Odent, her great friend Ibu Robin Lim has taught her so much, her mentor and adopted mama self-taught midwife Rifat Peggie Nafisa Brown has been her biggest influence, caesarean and twin birth specialists, baby-led La Leche League breastfeeding counsellors amongst many others. Of course she is always learning from her own mentors, those she is mentoring herself and her best teachers are the families she supports.
She also facilitates workshops for others involved in supporting the birthing family with her company wysewomen – the drive behind the workshops is to bring about the traditional sharing, learning and storytelling amongst women – facilitating workshops where there is no one teacher and all have something to contribute – keeping the flow of love and knowledge moving with creativity. The end result taking everyone home with solutions, more experience and love. Wysewomen has now taken on a life of its own with a blog, facebook presence, etsy store and publishing company.
Nicola really enjoys her work as an doula mentor for Doula UK.
A few years ago saw Nicola taking part in a very exciting gathering of women coming together to increase their skills in birth-keeping with Robin Lim, Giuditta Tornetta in Greece – see here for more details on the Loving the Mother event – in 2014 she was in Bali, Italy and Spain. In 2015/6 Nicola travelled to Morocco and will be visiting Greece, New York, LA, Portland and Finland for birth-related work. This year we go to Bali, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Holland.
25 years ago she trained to be a chef and spent some time temping in the City – primarily in executive kitchens – this is something she often utilizes whilst working as a postnatal doula although being perfectly honest she makes much more wholesome nana type food 😉 ….she specializes in world cuisine (nana world cuisine).
Occasionally Nicola can be found working alongside the NHS – she sat on the Lothians MSLC for years and consulted on the Lothian birth centre. On a broader scale Nicola has served on NHS Scotland bodies to improve health outcomes for mothers and babies.
She always wanted to grow up and work with women – she’s achieved at least one of her goals.
Listen to her here on the Fear Free Childbirth podcast talk about about what it is to be a doula and how she understands it.
Overall, she’s a mother of four and passionately loves the work she does………
You are a midwife, assisting at someone else’s birth. Do good without show or fuss.
Facilitate what is happening rather than what you think ought to be happening.
If you must take the lead, lead so that the mother is helped, yet still free and in charge.
When the baby is born, the mother will rightly say: “We did it ourselves!”
from The Tao Te Ching
This is an amazing quote and i think we can apply it to all who support during birth.
Follow Nicola on facebook here