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.
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 we know how to birth our babies; our bodies hold the ‘birthing wisdom’. I believe the experience of childbirth is a life-changing moment; it can be intensely joyful, and empowering, whatever form it takes, as long as you feel you could make informed choices and have been listened to. I am committed to helping you become informed and positive about your birth options, and able to communicate your wishes in clear and accessible ways to your partner, to midwives and other care providers.
I seek opportunities to promote positive stories about childbirth, and to encourage people 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 others about the full spectrum of emotional and physical challenges associated with having a baby: from establishing breast or chestfeeding, 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 provided virtual support to couples experiencing baby loss, and to those who are undergoing IVF after miscarriages. 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 home births and hospital births, both planned and unplanned, including when couples need to transfer from home to hospital during labour. I have supported first-time parents, and those having a vaginal birth after c-section (VBAC). I also have experience of supporting couples where labour has led to a c-section.
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 breast or chestfeeding, 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 people and their partners, and those supporting new 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 parents 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 supporting feeding 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. I am committed to continuing my development as a birth keeper, and I regularly take part in online training. I am passionate about trauma-informed birth work, and this is an area where I have particular knowledge and experience. I am also committed to supporting breastfeeding and understanding the significance of physiological birth and breastfeeding in the formation of the infant microbiome, and I have undertaken a range of workshops on this topic. I can provide further details of my training if need be.