Balm Doula service

Hello, I’m Hilary, a self-confessed birth junkie! I live between Brighton and Lewes with my husband, son and Border Terrier Bruno. My doula journey began with my own pregnancy and birth experience 18 years ago. I had always had an interest in the mind-body connection and became fascinated with how differently and uniquely we experience pregnancy, birth and life as a new parent. I found myself gravitating towards anything birth-related and shortly after began being invited to attend the births of friends and family members. This led me to undertake the Paramana Doula training programme with Dr Michel Odent in 2006 and I have had the immense privilege of attending many births since. I have supported women and their partners/families both at home and in a hospital setting, for intervention-free births, labours with and without pain-relief, water births, planned and unplanned caesareans. I have been present in those tender first hours, sometimes in the background, quietly protecting the space, sometimes actively supporting the first feed or getting mum comfortable, fed and showered and occasionally holding the space for mum and partner when baby is admitted to special care.

Keeping things light in early labour

Keeping things light in early labour

Why have a doula?

In the time around the birth of their baby, women are both powerful and vulnerable. It is vitally important that they are supported, nurtured and if necessary protected at this sensitive time. Throughout history, in many cultures, women have called upon other women to guide them with compassion and wisdom through this amazing but challenging life experience. As a doula, my role is to hold the space for a woman and her partner to experience the most satisfying, safe and life-affirming journey possible as they meet their baby. With a wealth of evidence that the hormones of birth, bonding and feeding work best in a calm, familiar and secure environment, the presence of a doula makes perfect sense, especially in a system of care where most women have never met the people taking care of them at this intimate time. As a dedicated and compassionate birth companion, I am present in whatever capacity I’m needed and wanted, but always with my focus on the couple and their wishes and needs.

 

My approach has become increasingly informed by my daily mindfulness practice and more recently my professional training as a teacher of Mindfulness. The quiet time I spend ‘on the cushion’ and ‘in my body’ each day really helps me to be present and grounded with an open heart and mind in the birth space and in the first weeks at home, at a time when a steady and loving presence is of great value for mum, partner and baby alike. I am also able to share these simple tools for being connected and grounded with my doula clients if they are interested in bringing some mindfulness practices into their lives.

 

What I offer

As your birth doula, I am on call for you 24/7 from 38 weeks until the birth of your baby. We will meet several times before the birth to get to know each other, discuss hopes, fears and wishes and prepare for the birth in whatever way you need, whether that’s an informal cup of tea or meal together or practising breathing techniques, massage and positions that may be helpful during your birth experience. After your baby is born, I will stay as long as I’m required and will meet with you once or twice in the following days and weeks, to support you as a new family through your Baby Moon.

I have a professional grade birth pool for your use and can offer massage, mindfulness techniques, rebozo and other comfort measures before and during your labour. As both a breastfeeding peer supporter and NHS Peer support trainer, I have a wealth of experience and knowledge to help you get started with feeding your baby,  whether that’s breastfeeding, formula or combination feeding.

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Doula Packages

Birth doula £995

  • Initial meeting to discuss your requirements

  • Two (or more if needed) prenatal visits in the comfort of your home

  • One of the two prenatal visits with my lovely support doula present

  • Unlimited phone or email contact from time of booking

  • On call 24/7 for you from 38 weeks

  • Use of birthing pool kit

  • Online library of multiple resources for birth and life with a baby

  • Breastfeeding support

  • Two relaxed home visits after you baby is born

Birth Doula Plus+ £1150

All of the above plus:-

  • one to one BALM Mindful birth Preparation Course in the comfort of your home (please see the Mindful Birthing page for details)

  • BALM Mindful Birth preparation audio download with birth preparation mindfulness practices

  • Mindful Birthing book by Nancy Bardacke

 Postnatal doula care £18 per hour (block booking packages available)

  • Visits of 3 hours or more and flexible block booking available

  • Mothering the mother - bringing love, care and reassurance to the newborn mum and family working times - block booking possible over a week or more following the birth

  • Breastfeeding support

  • Help with the practicalities of caring for your new baby: nappy changing, safe sleep, using your sling or carrier safely

  • Cooking, light household tasks, shopping -whatever is needed

If you would like to find out more, please get in touch by emailing me at balm.brighton@gmail.com and we can arrange a free consultation to discuss your needs and wishes.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Hilary

 

What ‘my’ families have to say…

Having Hilary as our doula for the birth of both our sons was an enormous comfort and emotional support for both of us and she helped us have confidence in ourselves. She provided a calm, positive energy throughout and enabled me to trust what my body was doing both times around. We were lucky enough to have both of our babies safely and peacefully at home, but I know that wherever and however we might have wouldn't up having our two boys, Hilary would have enabled us to have a positive birth experience. I am eternally grateful that we had her by our side.

Eugenie and Bud, Brighton 

Hilary, I was SO thankful to have you with me during J's birth. The intimacy, the mirroring of emotion, the engagement with the medical establishment on its own terms and your own sheer tenacity proved instant and essential support for me during what became a long, confused, difficult and ultimately incredibly joyful birth. I never felt alone, nor did I feel that the external process of managing the birth was out of my hands. For this and much more, I am very grateful to you.

S, Brighton

Hilary was my doula at the birth of my daughter in 2013 and I could not imagine having managed without her wonderful support through my long labour. She was very calm and supportive and helped me and my family so much throughout. She also came to visit me after the birth and made me lunch and brought cake. She helped reassure me about taking care of a newborn, which made a massive difference at a time when I was very new to motherhood

Elvira, Hove

Deciding to start a family was the best decision we've ever made. Asking Hilary to be our doula ranks pretty close. She was amazingly calm, reassuring and knowledgeable. We can't recommend her enough!

Rob and Anne, Hove

Having Hilary as our doula was the single best decision we made about the birth of our daughter. She gave us the confidence to stand firm by our wishes in the face of unwanted pressure for an induction. She gave me the reassurance I needed to birth my daughter at home, in water, 15 days after our due date. She was unfazed and practical when our baby arrived 15 minutes before the midwives! We are so grateful that she helped us protect the gentle home birthing experience we wanted.

Beth and James, Hove

My wife and I had very much wanted a natural birth with our first baby, George, but he ended up being born by caesarean after a long and difficult labour. Hilary was amazing throughout and a huge reassurance and support for me, especially when things got very medical - I know I would have felt panicky and powerless without her there. Without Hilary, this difficult but special day might have been traumatic and frightening, but her presence enabled us to have a positive experience despite plan 'A' going out the window. Thank you Hilary!

Ed, Brighton

I had a difficult first birth experience with an induced labour, so decided to hire a doula and give birth at home with my second baby. My husband was a little uncomfortable about having a stranger involved, but from the very first meeting we both felt at ease with Hilary and I really felt she was someone I could share such an intimate experience with. The labour itself was very short. My son Henry was born at 2.55am on Valentine's Day and it really was the most magical experience. I put the speed of the birth down to the fact that Hilary knew exactly what to say and what I needed at each stage of the process. After the birth, my husband admitted he had found the experience was wonderful as I had and having Hilary there had been great for him too. Rather than being scary, it had been intimate and enjoyable. I met with Hilary several times after the birth and she remembered Henry's birthday, which was very touching. I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending her as a doula and I firmly believe she was instrumental in helping me have the birthing experience I had always wanted.

Becca and Scott, Aldrington

Thank you so much for all your help and support during the most precious and intense time of our life. We are so grateful we found you on our journey to meet our beautiful daughter. Thank you to have made our dream of a positive, empowering birth possible.

Gwenn and David, Hove

Having Hilary and Michelle supporting us on our birth journey for our first baby, Finn, was one of the best decisions we could have made. From the moment we met them both, we immediately felt comfortable in their company and they really helped us feel reassured in our decision to follow a natural birth plan and feel confident trying for a home birth. We were given lots of helpful, knowledgeable, positive support, sometimes around the clock, during a testing third trimester and when we eventually entered a long and complicated labour, having our doulas by our side was invaluable. The dedication, compassion and calm positive energy from these two wonderful women enabled us to stay strong and focussed during very difficult times. We do not know what we would have done without them and Finn has gained two aunties in our eyes. Thank you for being there for us, we are eternally grateful!

Laura, Pauly and Finn, Hove

When we chose Hilary and Michelle to support us for the birth of our son, we had no idea how important a decision it would be. Before the birth, their experience was invaluable in our decision-making and we developed a deep trust in both of them. When I had severe complications following a planned caesarean, I was so relieved that Hilary could stay with me in theatre. Knowing I was in good hands, Tony could look after Tom, our newborn son. Hilary’s calming, reassuring presence was exactly what I needed in what was probably the most difficult situation of my life.

Michelle and Hilary supported us for the first 6 weeks after Tom was born, which gave us some much needed rest and time to recover. Even for a straightforward birth we would really recommend their postpartum doula service, as it really allows parents to relax and enjoy this special time with their new baby. As first time parents we also really appreciated the breastfeeding support and general reassurance. All round five star service! Highly recommended.

Kristiane, Tony and Tom