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Mars was our doula when our son Mackay was born last year. I wanted to hire a doula because I felt I needed some reassurance about who would be present at our birth and an advocate for myself, my husband and our child. Like most first time parents I didn’t realise the real struggle came after the birth.
Mars was the perfect birth companion, her extensive knowledge of childbirth meant she could assess a situation instantly and give advice accordingly. Likewise she also knew when to step back and provide quiet support. In the end I needed forceps and, although having a team of doctors and midwives suddenly sweep into the room could have been scary, I was completely at ease as Mars re-assured me and explained exactly what they were doing and why. I know that if she were not there this situation would have been a lot more stressful for my husband and I.
However it was after the birth that she was worth her weight in gold. I can’t even recall how many times I phoned her asking for advice on anything from sleeping to wind to breastfeeding and she was always there to help. For first time parents with our family on the other side of the world it was invaluable support. I had a difficult time after the birth with some serious complications that could have easily ended my hopes of breastfeeding yet I happily breastfeed my son until he was 14 months old, this is due in a large part to Mars. I know that without her wisdom on all matters breastfeeding I would have stopped long before. This is the most precious gift she gave me, the knowledge, confidence and skills to breastfeed my son.
Mars said to us when we first met her I am your doula for life and she means it, I email her even now for parenting advice and probably will until my son has left home.
Mars asked me to write a testimonial and said ‘don’t worry if it’s short.’ But honestly I feel like I have only written a fraction of what she has done for my family and I could write 100 pages more. Mars truly loves being a doula and I feel incredibly lucky that we found her.
Helen & Steve
Steve and I were thrilled to find out we were expecting last autumn, but after a few scares, minor complications and disheartening midwife appointments we were feeling a lot less positive about the upcoming birth. Our families live abroad and we were missing their support, so we went looking for a doula to help us through the rest of our journey. From the minute Mars walked into our home for the first time she was a calming, reassuring presence and a friend to us. She gave me confidence in my natural ability to birth my baby, and eased my anxieties about a hospital birth.
I called her a few mornings before my due date miserably uncomfortable and as she we were discussing symptoms my waters went! At first she told me to keep her updated and she would be ready when I was, but then she called back after remembering my family history of quick labour and said she was on her way. I look back on the early stages of labour and laugh because I spent them doing my hair, bossing my husband around, and watching Glee and eating biscuits with Mars! Her presence and knowledge gave me confidence to relax and listen to my body and enjoy labouring at home as long as possible instead of rushing to the hospital, and when it was time I just knew. Although some details of that afternoon are hazy, I clearly remember saying that I couldn’t push anymore, but then Mars took my hands, looked me in the eyes, and said ‘yes you can Helen.’
Unfortunately my little one got stuck and required a forceps delivery in theatre, but we made peace with it and Mars was right there for us when we were done to help get breastfeeding started. Breastfeeding was a real struggle for us the first week of little Elliott’s life, but Mars was there for us every step of the way through a hospital visit, midnight phone calls and endless texts, and I’m happily exclusively breastfeeding over four months on!
Let me start off by saying that Mars was just amazing and gave me comfort and reassurance during what I’m sure would have been so much more stressful time than it was!
As Helen mentioned, we were a little apprehensive about the birthing process because of some minor issues and the indication that the size of our baby would lead to complications. We weren’t comfortable with the way midwife appointments were going, as everyone seemed to have different answers that weren’t very clear to us. Then we sat down with Mars. Within minutes Helen and I were so much more comfortable that we could do this. She reminded us that everything going on was perfectly normal, and there was nothing to be overly concerned about.
Mars quickly had us putting together a birth plan to determine the experience that we wanted to have, and work toward that. She always reminded us to have an open mind that if something happens, which it usually does, your birthing plan might not go as expected- but that will be ok because you did all you can do. From that point forward Helen and I were so much at ease that everything was going to be ok. After all, birthing is such a natural thing. It’s something that we realized doesn’t seemed to be talked about much, we usually have this medical image in our head of how things go at a birth. But Mars quickly reminded us how innate it is to have a child, and the advantages of trying to stay as natural as possible. Before hearing this, I never even considered taking a more natural approach to the situation. But once I did, it made so much sense.
The experience itself was incredible, and Mars was so supportive. She never interfered with my role as the father, but gave so much subtle guidance, and I swear just her presence made the whole experience so much calmer. It was a great comfort having someone with us that we trusted, and knew was really looking out for our best interests. It’s hard to thank Mars enough for everything she did for our little Elliott!
Kate & James
Kate’s perspective: I first decided to look at hiring a doula to help us plan childcare for our two year old son so that if my partner James needed to look after him I would still have a birth companion. After a rather long and medicalised hospital birth first time around I was also attracted by the idea of having someone experienced on my side to provide support if and when I needed to make choices. In trying to plan around these anxieties I honestly didn’t give too much thought to the prospect that things would go well! However Mars not only helped us manage the practical issues, she also enabled us to have a wonderfully positive birth experience.
Mars’ qualities that stand out for me are her calm and determined attitude, and her commitment to providing support in any circumstances. At our first meeting she made me and my partner feel very much at ease, this was the start of a journey for us that led us from initially thinking of a hospital birth to eventually having a wonderful home birth with a birthing pool. Mars never once tried to lead us in this direction but she gave us the space and confidence to consider and explore it.
As this birth was so different from my first I had no idea how it would actually work to have a doula present. However Mars was great; she knew when to be by my side and when to stand back, she was sensitive to whatever the mood and moment required and she worked very effectively alongside James and the midwives. Mars supported me in decision-making during labour when this was needed but was never pushy, and in general made me feel very well looked after. She stayed with me until I was settled with the baby and we had successfully completed the first feed – which in this case was in hospital since we went in for some precautionary monitoring after the birth – and followed up with us to check that things were going alright over the next few days.
I would definitely recommend Mars as a doula, she did a great job and played a very important role in helping the birth of our second child to be a smooth and joyful event.
James adds: I found Mars friendly, approachable and helpful. She was very keen to involve me in the process. As such I felt included and confident throughout.
Tim & Irini
We cannot begin to thank you enough for everything you have done for us over the marathon. At the end of it, all five of us (You, Andy, Irini, Nikos and I) worked brilliantly as a team for the best possible outcome. However, I cannot help but feel you were absolutely instrumental in guiding and supporting us through the whole thing. At each of the key turning points in the journey, you were there to steer us towards the positive outcome.
You were constantly there with the practical support – whether it be help keeping the pool full of hot water, magicing up delicious food or cups of tea. Having flicked through some of the photos – you seem to be almost a pro photographer! Your support for Irini was great – I picked up on you carefully placing your hand down for Irini to grab while in the pool – allowing her to make an unspoken decision.
You were fantastic at coaching us. It is seems easy in the anti-natal classes to remember all the tips, but it all went out the window when at the start Irini was breathing through each contraction with “d-a-m-n i-t”. You immediately replace “damn it” with “yes” and a reminder to not fight the contractions. I felt able to get back into some kind of control and keep breathing out “yessss” with Irini. You kept us mobile or resting, whatever was appropriate with a constant stream of ideas to get things moving or get some energy back.
Your steady flow of gentle guiding tips – often unspoken – to keep me being there for Irini with the right thing at the particular moment was something that Irini never realised, but helped us immeasurably.
The most important part of the coaching came at that critical moment. Looking back on it now, I feel that I went through a partners version of transition. I felt absolutely hopeless seeing Irini having given more than she thought she could every give physically give to then spend a further 3 hours trying. I couldn’t face the thought of us leaving our home environment to the hospital – but felt we had to accept it. In that moment of complete doubt in our teams ability to see Irini push through to the right conclusion, you were able to pick me up from the bottom, while still supporting Irini. You were then able to give me that push to say I had to support her right then and there. It was down to that that I ignored any doubt and just went to work with her. In the end, Irini’s big push felt like a football match when the crowd is all for one side.
You were absolutely brilliant in the role of gatekeeper. It really felt like you were creating this space for Irini and I. With the various people coming in and out of the house – somehow you managed to make it all work and keep our atmosphere. At the critical point of making the hospital decision, you cleared the room in the blink of an eye leaving Irini and I alone to think as calmly as possible – it was wonderful to have a minute as just us.
The amazing thing is that reading this now – it looks like you were totally in control – but actually, you managed it all while letting us run the whole thing for ourselves. That is a real balancing act.
We have had a great first day – we are all doing well in our right place at home. He has already managed a nice fountain of pee all over the bed – so, we have now started on the obvious lessons!
Thank you again for everything. Lots of love, Tim & Irini x x
Holly & Dagan
Most people wouldn’t hire a doula from 3,500 miles away, sight unseen. But then most people wouldn’t be planning to journey from their home in New York to London for a combination babymoon, baby birthing, and adventurous time with a new little one. Thanks to Mars our adventure worked out perfectly. We truly couldn’t have asked for more.
We discovered Mars over the internet, and first met her over the phone. She didn’t blink when she heard our plan… to come over to London a month before our baby’s due date, find a flat, have a little time together before the baby arrived, and then spend three months after the birth hosting friends and family and exploring London. I think we said something like, “most people would think this is crazy,” to which Mars immediately responded, “I think it sounds like fun!” That conversation ended with her saying, “Even if you don’t hire me, I want to meet you when you get here, my crazy Americans.” But from that moment, we know we’d found the doula for us.
We met with Mars in person after we arrived in London and became doubly confident we’d made the right decision. Not only did her approach to childbirth match perfectly with ours — that couples should be informed about childbirth so that, to the extent possible, they can have the type of birth they desire, and that she, as a doula, should be there to try and support those plans, and provide guidance if things went otherwise — but she obviously knew the medical system and her stuff. And she was there for us for everything — answering questions from basic to large about how things worked in the UK versus the US; calling upon her network to help us when we decided we needed to find a new medical provider for the birth; on the phone with us in the middle of the night when we were unsure whether labor had truly begun; knowing just the way to convince me that “perhaps I should just check in with the midwives” when birth was really approaching; and with us at the hospital with us when, less than 2 hours before our baby was born, we finally arrived.
Thanks in large part to Mars, the birth was just what we’d hoped for. She worked in perfect tandem with our midwife – a seamless match in a hospital that doesn’t have that many doulas present at births. By the end of the birth we were calling them the dream team, and they were. Mars has a perfect tone of voice to help guide through contractions; it goes without saying that she knows the stages and phases of labor so knows what to expect and can tell you what is going on; and she knows exactly how to be a support person — helping the dad or partner help the mom through labor. She also knew how and when to be there — helping make sure baby got the first latch right, and that we were calm and comfortable after the birth — and when to step back, and leave us on our own. And something we didn’t expect, but will always be grateful for: at some point, without our even noticing, she grabbed our camera and started taking pictures. What a huge gift.
Of course Mars stayed in touch with us after the birth, coming to visit a number of times, being available on the phone or by text to guide us through every little question and new parent fear, and keeping in contact with us since our return home. In short, you should just stop reading this message now hire Mars. She is wonderful.
Simone & Joel
Joel and I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the support, kindness and invaluable advice that you provided during the birth of our daughter Raquel. Your wonderful warm and calm manner and knowledge of birth and the hospital system really helped Joel and I to relax and focus on the moment.
Your advice on breastfeeding has also helped me get off to a good start and you will be pleased to know that Raquel is eating like a champion and I am loving the experience of breastfeeding.
You came highly recommended and yet even all the amazing things I heard about you do not capture the help you provided in buffering the bureaucracy, providing wisdom and creating a birthing environment that was everything I hoped for.
I looking forward to keeping you informed on all great things Raquel does as she grows up. All the best, Simone and Joel.
Tim & Nicola
Mars is a twin mum too and we felt she was well positioned to help the birth be a relaxed and smooth one. Mars is calm but no-nonsense and you feel as though everything is taken care of which massively helps the birth. She acts as the go-between, for the midwife, consultants and us. Her skills were so needed as we were determined to have a natural twin labour (if medically safe to do so) but were facing difficulties with the consultants as they kept pushing for a caesarean. Once we had agreed with the hospital to proceed with the natural birth we felt having Mars there would help support us to stay on track or if necessary to change tack and have a medical birth.
Our twins were born in 1hr 45mins from the start of labour to the finish using Hypnobirthing and we were all home by 6pm with our feet up!
Marcia’s breast feeding consultant skills are second to none too. I wish every mother had a Mars Lord then there would be so many more happy breast feeding mummies not experiencing pain or discomfort.
We can’t thank you enough Mars, the magic of that day will never be forgotten x
Elizabeth & Stelios
As I watched the breastfeeding-counsellor caress a knitted boob at my final ante-natal class, I thought to myself ‘How hard can feeding a baby actually be?’. Fast forward a month, and my two- week-old daughter had not only failed to regain her birth weight but was beginning to lose weight. My nipples had begun to bleed and were so sore just the thought of feeding her made me wince. All of my preconceptions about breastfeeding – that it would come naturally to me & baby – suddenly seemed laughable & I felt bitterly disappointed, not to mention guilty. I needed help…
Enter Mars. Not only is she a trusted friend, but she is also an experienced Doula, breastfeeding counsellor, mother, and general lover of life. She had already seen me through some pregnancy panics (I had terrible anxiety following a pregnancy loss at 13 weeks) and I knew it was time to call. When she suggested talking on Skype so I could show her my ‘technique’ I tried not to give too much thought about my breasts going wireless and decided to park my reservations & put my desperate family first.
With my husband holding the iPad and Alice ready to feed, we were good to go. Mars talked through different positions, how to relax and how to hold Alice properly so she would latch better. She was able to pick up on subtle things I was doing which weren’t helping (my posture for example) and was able to witness Alice’s approach to it all. And over the next few weeks she supported me through two bouts of mastitis and diligently replied to text messages about nipples, feeding times & just general new-mother anxiety.
For some, breastfeeding comes naturally & is trouble free. But if you do encounter challenges, its critical to be able to demonstrate the problem YOU are having, and have someone talk it through with you and make suggestions which might help. Mars not only helped me with the physical aspects but all the while was offering emotional support, too. The guilt at not ‘getting it right’ coupled with the stress of a hungry baby is extremely demanding. Mars patiently and softly guided me, but never pressured me or made me feel like I was a failure.
Having Mars on Skype was the next best thing to her actually being with me (sadly we live miles apart!) and I was able to ask everything and anything – she has an amazing ability to make you feel like no topic is off limits.
My breast-feeding journey wasn’t what I wanted or thought it would be and I eventually combine-fed. But I am convinced that without Mars’ help I would have thrown the towel in after a few days, rather than continue for a few months. Skype-demonstrations needn’t be dodgy – it’s easy, interactive & does not exclude you from being supported by the best!
Kjerstin & Michael
When we found out we were pregnant with twins, we were both shocked and delighted, very unaware and naive about what we were in for as first time parents. I wish I had known Mars then. Instead we went the regular hospital route and I gave birth by c-section due to Twin A, Thalia, being breech at 38 weeks. My girls were healthy and good weights, yet we were in hospital for 6 days. These were terrifying days, of doctors, nurses and lots and lots of confusing and contradicting advice. I really wish I had known Mars then. Thalia, my little twin, wasn’t feeding well, but after some weight loss she gained a little and we were allowed home. I was determined to breast feed. But 10 days in, Thalia had lost more weight and we were back in hospital watching a tube be put down her throat. These were dark days. Finally we managed to get her to feed from a bottle, and we were again allowed to leave hospital. For the next few weeks I expressed and bottle fed Thalia while breast feeding Linnea. Linnea was and has ever since been a champion eater making the comparison even more acute and worrying.
My husband realised we needed help. I couldn’t keep doing the rigourous routine of expressing, bottle feeding Thalia, cleaning bottles and breast feeding Linnea round the clock. Through a very fortunate coincidence the first doula we contacted was busy and referred us to Mars, as she was a twin specialist and training to be a lactation consultant. I kept telling myself that Thalia would never feed off the breast, and had resigned myself to feeding them breast milk in this complicated manner until they were three months and then switch them both to formula as I couldn’t face just doing that to Thalia. This thought broke my heart. Enter Mars. She confidently told me that in two weeks Thalia would be feeding off the breast, but I secretly thought she was crazy and that she hadn’t met my Thalia. Sure enough, two weeks in Thalia was feeding off the breast, and gaining lots of weight, to the amazement of the midwives and us. She accurately saw that Thalia was compacted during my pregnancy and had a stiff jaw, she got a wonderful osteopath involved whom gave Thalia weekly massages. She also gave me confidence to keep trying and never give up. She had lots of advice and tricks and didn’t make feel weak for breaking down ALL THE TIME.
She also cooked us dinner, played with the girls and was a lot of fun to hang out with. She even helped us with laundry and little things around the house. I have no idea how I would have survived those first months without her, we often say you can’t put a price on how what she gave us. My girls are now 9 months old and still breast fed. We are also following baby led weaning with great success. And my husband and I are very proud of the fact that we have never bought even one bottle of formula. This is all due to Mars.
Marcia Lord was our postnatal doula when our precious daughter was born.
Being first time parents, with all of our family abroad, we were so grateful for Marcia presence. Just thinking of her now makes me smile. Her warm, caring way was such a blessing to me. I was exhausted and struggling with breast feeding.
Having Marcia swoop in each day was the best. She was so supportive, reassuring, and knowledgeable. Like my little rock. Her encouragement lifted me up and kept me going. Our daughter is 9 months old now. I am still breast feeding. I thank Marcia for that. She was a great early companion on this joyous journey called parenthood! We will always be grateful that she was with us!
Mars truly loves being a doula and I feel incredibly lucky that we found her.
Mars was just amazing and gave me comfort and reassurance during what I’m sure would have been so much more stressful time than it was!
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