About Birthworx

Sarah's story

My doula journey began when I witnessed the birth of my nephew in New Zealand in 2011 in a room full of family members supporting, guiding, encouraging, celebrating and nurturing my sister-in-law during her powerful labour. I wanted to be part of that again! I feel instinctively drawn to the intimate and vulnerable moments during the perinatal period. To hold space and support women and families during those early days, weeks and months of parenthood. 

I have experienced two empowering births myself - as well as pregnancy loss - and believe that in most situations, women are able to achieve optimal physiological birth outcomes by harnessing the power of their mind and body with the right support.

I have also been through severe postnatal mental illness, twice, and have used my recovery story to mentor and educate women and families going through similar experiences. 

After years supporting friends and family as a doula alongside my medical writing and communications career, I finally completed my formal training in the UK in 2023. I am currently a Doula UK-mentored doula, which means I have an experienced doula 'supervisor' supporting me through my work.

As well as doula services, I offer IAIM infant massage courses. I did baby massage after the birth of both of my babies and found the course to be truly beneficial in helping me bond with them during periods of intense mental distress. The massage routine both gave me confidence in my abilities as a mother, and relaxed and soothed my girls. I certified as an IAIM instructor in 2024. 

It is the greatest honour to be invited to support a family as their doula, one that I treat with the greatest respect.

Evidence for doula support

Harnessing the power of the body and mind to achieve your ideal birth and postnatal experience can be hard in a world overflowing with information, advice, trends, and social pressures. Doulas can ease that burden, and research has shown time and again that having a doula can significantly improve birth and postnatal outcomes. 

Doulas can also provide the continuity of care throughout pregnancy, birth and postnatally that medical professionals aren't always able to.

A 2019 review* of evidence from around the world, published in the Cochrane Library, found that continuous 1-2-1 companionship in labour from a doula can:

*Bohren MA, Berger BO, Munthe‐Kaas H, Tunçalp Ö. Perceptions and experiences of labour companionship: a qualitative evidence synthesis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2019, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD012449; abstract

Evidence for infant massage

Infant massage is an age-old practice, found in many cultures around the world. The act of massaging a baby is really an act of nurturing touch. The touch nurtures babies physically, emotionally and socially as they learn about trust, understand respectful touch, feel the stimulation and relaxation of their bodily systems, communicate with those around them and even increase their brain development.

The IAIM programme has been developed and adapted specifically for infants and babies from birth up to 1 year old, and can be adapted further for babies who are premature, babies with specific medical needs, and growing children and teenagers. The strokes in the programme were originally devised by Vimala McLure, who witnessed the powerful effect of massage on her travels to India in the 1970s. The IAIM programme includes adaptations of moves in Indian and Swedish massage, yoga and reflexology.

The supporting scientific evidence for the benefit of nurturing touch to both to the baby and the parent or carer really does span the whole physical, emotional and societal spectrum.

*Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(11), 6378; abstract**J Dev Behav Pediatr 1994, 16: 105-111; abstract***J Affect Disord 2001, 63(1– 3): 201-7; abstract 

The Touch Institute

The powerful role of nurturing touch in improving health outcomes (not just in babies) is the focus of studies done at the Touch Research Institute, at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Florida.  Over 63 studies have been published from work done at the centre, which show that infant massage can improve outcomes for:

Frequently asked questions

Why would I need a doula as well as a midwife/obstetrician during my birth?

Doulas are non-clinical. We do not deliver babies, nor do we provide antenatal checks, scans or tests or any medical procedures or advice. We are a powerful, evidence-based tool for emotional and practical support, primarily for the mother, but also for the partner and wider family. For example, we often help set up the birth space, guide and support you with your chosen pain management tools and techniques, make suggestions for comfort or distraction methods, keep birth pools warm, make sure everyone present is adequately fed and watered, among many other things!

We can also act as an additional, impartial source of evidence-based information about anything to do with your care, and can be an advocate in the birth environment, leaving you the space to fully concentrate on birthing your baby. Our continuous presence throughout birth has been shown to improve outcomes (read more on this in the section called 'Evidence for doula support' above). Midwives will often only be with you during 'active labour', whereas your doula will be there from the moment you want them to be.

I have worked very successfully alongside midwives and obstetricians who are often really grateful to have someone who 'knows' the family well, their wishes and experiences, and can be with them 1-2-1 for the duration of the birth. Especially in the hospital environment when there can be multiple demands on a medical professionals' time. 

Why would I need a doula as well as my birth partner/mum/other support person during birth?

It can be incredibly comforting to the birthing mother as well as their partner and/or other support people to have someone impartial and experienced to talk through what's happening during birth. Especially as things can often change quickly! Doulas often bring the 'calm' into a birth space, when things get tough or if labour is long or the mother and her support crew are tiring. 

A doula is there to support the whole family,  with the birthing mother at the centre, which means taking a 'big picture' view of what might help in ay given scenario. Doula's bring none of their own experiences into the birth space nor do they have any expectations or preferences for what the birthing mother and her family needs. They will advocate for what the birthing family are hoping for in their birth experience, with no agenda. 

Are doulas just for home births?

Not at all, doulas can offer support and care for birth wherever it happens. It is my commitment to you to be with you, wherever you chose to be. 

It's unlikely a doula would be allowed into theatre for a caesarean section, but we can offer care in all birth contexts as long as your chosen birth facility (if it's outside the home) allows.

For full transparency, I absolutely love homebirth - I have experience supporting at them and had one myself. I love helping people come to the decision about where is right for them to birth their baby, and I will gladly signpost to evidence supporting homebirth if it is something you are interested in.

Why would I need a doula as well as my partner or family after the birth?

The over-used phrase 'it takes a village to raise a child' is the honest answer here. As above, it can be really reassuring to have someone impartial and experienced to support and guide you through the immediate postpartum phase. Not only that, partners and any other close supporters who have helped the mother through birth are also likely to be exhausted and a doula can provide a level of support that means everyone can get their energy back.

There are practical things like making meals, putting washing on and vacuuming that give the family time to bond and care for their newborn. Depending on who is nearby to help, a doula might look after the baby so that the new parents can have a nap, a shower or do some exercise. Doulas also help with looking after older children - perhaps helping with the bedtime routine or picking up from childcare or school - to ease everyone into the routine with a new baby.

And there is a deeply important emotional support role for the doula after birth , which gives the new mother/parents the time and space to fully process what they've been through and are going through. With no time limits or agenda. This is when people are often at their most vulnerable, and a doula will be a safe, empathetic and congruent companion, perhaps signposting to local services that might help with specific questions or challenges. 

How much does doula support cost and how is the relationship managed?

I try to be as transparent as possible around costs, but every family and every situation will be sightly different. I have tried to give a baseline cost for each service on the Services pages, but the cost of doula services depends on the support required (e.g. birth and postnatal, just postnatal, postnatal plus infant massage) and factors like where you live (e.g. if there will be long travel requirements to get to you)

We will always agree the whole cost before booking though, so nothing is 'hidden' once our agreement begins.

I also meet with all potential client families before booking, to understand what you are looking for and make sure I am the right person to support you. Once we have met, I will draw up a contract that outlines our agreement and then I will take a deposit. The balance of payment can be made upfront or in installments.