By Alyce Collins
THIS woman was so traumatised by the stressful hospital birth of her eldest child, she decided she couldn’t go through it again and instead educated herself in being a DOULA and even made smoothies out of her own placenta.
Doula, sling consultant and placenta specialist Jenny Wren (27) from Cardiff, Wales, is encouraging other expectant mothers to inform themselves about alternative birthing options in the hopes of a more positive labour experience, as she found first-hand.
Jenny herself has two children, and with both she had very different birth experiences. Her son, Judah (4) was supposed to be born via a planned home birth, but a lack of midwifery staff required Jenny to make her way into the hospital to deliver him with assistance.
After not feeling entirely happy with the process of her hospital birth, Jenny looked into being a birth worker and having a doula present at the birth of her daughter, Autumn-Violet (10 months). Without any midwives present, Jenny delivered her daughter in the comfort of her home and felt much more at ease throughout the labour.
A doula is a birth companion and post-birth supporter who assists the expectant woman throughout her pregnancy, during the labour and after. Although a doula isn’t a medical professional, they provide emotional support and physical aid when required.
Since starting this line of work, Jenny has since expanded her business to continue helping mothers after welcoming their newborns by providing them with placenta services. Jenny can encapsulate the placenta into pills for the mother to take daily, blend them into smoothies or even a medicinal liquid.
“After my son was born I became fascinated with everything to do with birth and babies,” said Jenny.
“I was amazed that all this information was so freely available and yet women were still birthing in situations that worked against basic birth physiology.
“I wanted to support other women to have positive experiences, so I went to university to study Maternity Care. From there, I trained as an antenatal teacher.
“I found it difficult preparing women for birth and for them to then be let down and coerced or traumatised during labour.
“That was when I knew that I wanted to attend births and make a real difference for women.
“My son Judah was a planned home birth and, on the night, I went into labour, the maternity unit informed me that there were no midwives available to come to me, so if I wanted any care I’d have to go into the hospital.
“I was very disappointed, but I went in. He was born fairly easily in the water 16 hours later, but there were so many aspects of the birth that I was unhappy with. I was told that I had to have internal examinations, they made jokes about my vagina during suturing and I couldn’t hold my son straight after the birth.
“It was an overall positive experience, but I still felt that my autonomy had been taken away from me.
“Then my daughter was born at home with a doula and no midwife because that’s what made me feel safest. Her birth was incredible, euphoric and affirming.”
Jenny has been a placenta specialist for a year now after training to become a member of the Placenta Remedies Network.
The placenta can be used for many things after the baby’s birth, and the mother can choose what she wants to do with it herself, and Jenny will help with whatever she may choose.
“Women make contact with me when they are pregnant, and I provide them with a cool bag, a box and ice packs,” said Jenny.
“After the baby is born they put the placenta on ice and I collect it from them fairly quickly.
“It usually takes me 48 hours to then process a placenta.
“You can make smoothies, have capsules, a tincture, an essence or a homeopathic remedy. Some specialists also make oils and cosmetics.
“A placenta doesn’t taste of anything – I had a blackberry and pear smoothie from mine, which was delicious. The capsules have an earthy smell but that’s all.
“After my daughter, I had a few smoothies and encapsulated the rest of it.
“For me it’s about providing that continuity for the mother. It’s the organ that nourished your baby and it can then be used to heal you postnatally.
“It’s very much an exchange of energy to me and I feel when I am working with a placenta that I am doing something magical. Mothers tell us that they feel an improvement in mood, energy and milk supply.”
Having a doula present isn’t often a choice that women are aware of, but doulas are able to support all kinds of births, from planned caesarean to home birth. However, Jenny wants more women to look to other methods of delivery because so many women are amazed at the support and care they get from a birth worker.
“Many celebrities are choosing to have placenta encapsulation done now,” added Jenny.
“With the internet and social media, it is so easy to access a wealth of information about your birth choices.
“Women want this – they tell us that it works. I will always believe women. It seems such a waste to dispose of an organ with so many wonderful uses.”