In May 2019 I married my best friend, James, and two weeks later we left family and home far behind for a new life in the Netherlands. He is important to this About section because everything that we do happens in relation to others, especially those closest to us, and his friendship and love have been the most healing and precious influences on my life.

In April 2021 we welcomed our daughter Jane. Becoming a mother was a transformative experience that brought deep feelings of gratitude for my own mother and the support of James and a dear friend who acted as a doula during my labour. It made me realise how important it is to have agency and be encouraged during labour, to be treated with dignity and compassion, and for that support to be unbroken for the duration of labour.

As a birth doula, I am able to provide this type of gentle, continuous care.

The classic advice is that you must have it all together and be happy in your own skin before entering a relationship, but people rarely speak of how we heal one another and relationships themselves are transformative. How being seen and supported gives you the confidence to care for others and grow into who you are supposed to become. The quiet influence of a partner and experienced birth worker (mother, sister, friend, or doula) during your labour can be deeply grounding and create a safe place for your confidence to grow. The experience of giving birth can be deeply rewarding, embodying, and satisfying; it can change how you see yourself and allow you to mother with confidence and fierce gentleness the little human you grew with so much love and patience.

If you are an expectant parent, my wish for you is that your birth experience will be one which gives you confidence in your strength and ability to care for yourself and your child and which you look back on with joy.

If we were to think about work in terms of our humanity–making people feel dignified, valued, and whole–then caregiving is the most important work we can do with our time on earth.

Angela Garbes