I am Hilary Pengelly, a mother and a grandmother. I am a Recognised Birth doula with Doula UK, and I offer a range of independent postnatal services, including a Birth Reflection service, and a monthly ‘Let’s Talk About Birth!’ group for pregnant women and new mothers.
I experienced both hospital and home births with my three children, who are now young adults. I am happy with my own birth experiences, so I have no investment in your birth being any particular way. I grew up in North Devon but moved away to study. I lived in Oxford and Sheffield, where my children grew up. In 2013 I took early retirement from my work as a lecturer (in Social Work and inter-professional practice) and moved ‘back home’ to North Devon.
I believe women know how to birth their babies; our bodies hold the ‘birthing wisdom’. I believe a woman’s experience of childbirth is a life-changing moment; it can be intensely joyful, and empowering, whatever form it takes, as long as the woman feels she has made choices and been listened to. I am committed to helping women become informed and positive about their birth options, and able to communicate their wishes in clear and accessible ways to their partners, to midwives and other care providers.
I seek opportunities to promote positive stories about childbirth, and to encourage women to share their experiences with each other. As a way to offer women a supported space in which to do this, I facilitate a group: ‘Let’s Talk About Birth’ in Barnstaple, to enable women to come together, to share their experiences of giving birth and to support each other.
I am passionate about the importance of perinatal mental health, and I recognise how challenging life with a new baby can be. As a birth worker I seek opportunities to talk with women about about the full spectrum of emotional and physical challenges associated with having a baby: from breastfeeding, to coping with sleep deprivation, and being aware of the signs of postnatal depression (PND) and how and where new parents can access support.
I have recently undertaken a workshop around supporting every birth; this has given me valuable knowledge and understanding of supporting couples through baby loss. A doula has an important role in providing support to a woman and her partner during and after a birth that involves the death of their baby. I am available to support couples going through baby loss, either through miscarriage, still birth or neonatal death; please contact me to discuss your support needs. I am also able to provide valuable support to those expectant couples who have previously experienced a bereavement; please get in touch if you would like to talk about this bespoke antenatal and birth doula service.
I have experience of supporting women through labours starting at home, and transferring to hospital for the birth. I have recent experience of supporting home births, and I have supported a number of women having a vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC). I recognise the importance of continually updating my knowledge and experience to enhance my development as a doula. I read and research current literature on childbirth and breastfeeding, and I am actively engaged with interprofessional birth networks to share and exchange knowledge and ideas. I am committed to using my knowledge and experience of working with health care professionals to inform my role as a doula. I believe in maintaining high standards of practice in supporting you (and your partner) on your journey to parenthood; to this end I am a member of Doula UK, and I am bound by Doula UK codes of conduct. In December 2016 I became a Doula UK Recognised Birth doula with Doula UK.
I am committed to developing effective local networks with colleagues working with pregnant women and their partners, and those supporting new mothers/parents with breastfeeding, and I attend the local Maternity Services group at the North Devon District Hospital to discuss the development and delivery of local maternity services. I see myself as part of a strong community of birth workers and those who work to support new mothers and fathers in the early weeks and months after birth, and I meet regularly with other doulas based in Devon for networking and continuous professional development.
I completed the Paramana Doula course in January 2014. As part of developing further skills and experience in breastfeeding support I completed ‘Supporting the Breastfeeding Mother and Baby’ (Foundation Level) distance learning module (2015) with the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM). In May 2017 I participated in a workshop concerned with baby loss and supporting every birth.