A mother-of-two who wants women to have the best birthing experience possible has started new monthly antenatal classes in Newark.
Anna Rutkowka says her classes aim to be informative and empower mums-to-be.
They started last month when the focus was on transitioning from womanhood to motherhood. The next class will be at Cleveland Square Community Centre on April 19, when the topic will be anxiety in pregnancy.
It will be followed on May 16 with a breastfeeding workshop.
Each session costs £5 and runs for an hour from 6.30pm.
“The classes are relaxing, in a safe space with lots of good vibes,” Anna said.
“The classes are open to all pregnant mums, not just first-timers, and you can join at any time.”
If they prove popular she would like to run a course of six weekly antenatal class and a baby group in the future.
Anna became interested in helping mums-to-be after a hospital birth that was not a good experience for her.
She became a breastfeeding supporter at Hawtonville Children’s Centre and completed perinatal supporter training there.
When Anna became pregnant for a second time she decided to have a home water birth with a midwife in attendance. This time the experience was completely different.
“I knew that after experiencing an amazing birth the second time I wanted to continue my journey and become a doula (a birth companion)” she said.
Anna trained in York with a Doula UK-approved course provider and is now in the process of finishing her certification.
As a doula she is able to support and help mums-to-be.
“Imagine having your own cheerleader during pregnancy. Someone who knows how your body works, who is there for you,” she said.
'Help mum and support her partner'
Anna offers one-to-one antenatal meetings at home and if mums want her at the birth she will be on call day and night for the final four to five weeks.
“We do not replace anyone,” said Anna.
“We are simply there to secure a birthing place to help mum and support her partner.
“A doula encourages a mum to speak for herself and ask questions. After the birth we want to make sure they feel empowered and confident.”
After the birth Anna visits mums, helping with breastfeeding and giving any support needed.
“I have lots of mums who I am helping post-natally because I think sometimes having a baby can be overwhelming,” she said.
Anna spends her free time studying medical journals and reading up on the latest research on pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding.
“Sometimes people have an image of a doula being all hippy and happy in a field with flowers but actually I am very focused and keep up with all the latest research,” she said.
Anna said a lot of her clients came to her after difficult births, particularly caesareans, and needed help with breastfeeding.
She can offer one-to-one antenatal classes and also has online clients. She speaks English and Polish and has some clients living further afield, who she helps via Skype.