Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Scottish Doula Network Retreat

Last weekend I went on my first Scottish Doula Network retreat and I have been sitting here for days wondering how to write a post about it. I thought before I went that I would come back full of stories and tales to tell. I thought I would take lots of photos and have lots to write about. Well, it seems like I did take a lot of photos… but I don’t have a lot to write about. The retreat was amazing. It was everything I needed and more. There were tears, laughter, stories, therapies, walks, lots of cake and a lot of amazing food. One member summed it up perfectly in her Facebook status update (I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing!):

“laughed, cried, shared food, shared birth stories, made a cloth pad, drew & helped make and then walk in a labyrinth, massaged, hugged, walked and generally had a fabulous time with the lovely ladies at @Scottish Doula Network. Thank you all for a wonderful, emotional, fun weekend, it was great to see you all :)”

It was just a mind-blowing experience and I can’t describe it well enough! I never thought you could put me in a room (well, a nice house in the countryside) for a day, let alone two days and two nights, with a group of women and tell me I would enjoy myself! They came from different walks of life, all with one purpose – to support women during their journeys into motherhood.

So, here are some of the highlights of my weekend:

I made a cloth menstrual pad! We talked about menstruation and how it has become a taboo subject and how we should embrace our monthly cycle rather than shy away from it. Everyone should own a Mooncup (or equivalent!). Everyone should read The Red Tent by Anita Diamant! And maybe every women should think about celebrating their daughters’ first Menarche, so that these women grow up with a positive view of their bodies.

Cake. LOTS of cake.

A walk to a beautiful Loch.

Drawing, making and walking a labyrinth.

I was really sceptical about this beforehand! What can you possibly achieve by drawing a labyrinth? Well, it would seem you can achieve focus, as well as a new, beautiful shape to doodle when on the phone! Labyrinths are not like mazes, as you can’t get lost in a labyrinth. Just follow the path and you will get to the centre. The amazing thing with a labyrinth is that you feel you will never get to the middle. The path takes you close and then veers back out again but as long as you have faith, you will get there. This faith has been translated into the birth and postnatal experience – the walk to the centre of the labyrinth can be seen as your labour and birth journey; once you reach the centre, your baby is born and then you turn around and make your way out. The path back through the labyrinth is just as meaningful and it can be viewed as your journey back through parenthood. Before you mock me, try it! It’s an incredibly centring experience.

On the first evening, we made a rice labyrinth in the gardens of the house and we all walked it together. On the final day, I walked the labyrinth again on my own. This website, Sacred Labyrinth, summed this up perfectly for me: “Your walk can be a healing and sometimes very profound experience or it can be just a pleasant walk. Each time is different.”. My walks were very different, the second one feeling very emotional as I dealt with some fears and anxiety, which I have kept to myself for a while.

So, go away and draw a labyrinth. When your daughter celebrates her Menarche, make a rice labyrinth in the garden and walk through it together. And when you visit old buildings, especially churches and other religious places, look out for the labyrinths in the gardens and on the walls…

And finally - birth stories! One night we sat down and shared birth stories. Some people told their own stories and others told stories of births they had attended. Every story was different and each experience allowed me to gain another insight into the amazing world that I feel privileged to be a part of.

This of course will probably be my one and only Scottish Doula Network retreat. In a way I am glad, because I'm not sure an experience like that can be recreated! It mainly makes me sad though. I'm sad to leave Glasgow and leave behind this brilliant group of women who make me feel like I belong, 100%.

Thank you ladies, for all you gave to me last weekend. It was amazing. x


  1. you'll have to come back from the US to another one!!! or we'll bring it to you xx

  2. so lovely, so wish i had been there, reminding me of the love at Da-a-luz, well done to you all xxx


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