Image by Elena Heatherwick-Lammers
Born in Argentina from a French mother and an Argentinian father I always had a dream...to come to Europe. Italians grandparents...a German great grandfather...easy to explain. Once 21 years old I came to Europe. Lived in France, Germany, Spain; but London is my place. I have 4 children and 4 grandchildren.
When expecting my first child, in London, I was not informed, I did not read books but I trusted my body and chose a hospital with a reputation for ‘allowing’ you to give birth in any position. I had no idea that I could stay at home.
Once I arrived to the hospital, in hard labour and almost fully dilated... a doctor with 10 medical students did a forceps class with us, my baby daughter and me! It was quick...unnecessary, surreal and I felt like I had an operation. I was very depressed for a long time, etc.
When pregnant for the second time...I did not trust anybody. I did not go to my GP, nothing...just happily expecting...in peace. When 5 months pregnant I heard about Michel Odent, he had recently moved to London from Pithiviers, France. We met on a sunny day, it was in April 1987, and I trusted him immediately, I felt like I had known him for ever, like a family member. We spoke French...we still do.
Michel Odent came to my 3 homebirths...the best days of my life. Amazing, empowering, so much joy...people will come to see us and comment: Liliana you look like you are in love! I was...with the whole world!
I learned so much from my own four births...but mainly that it is easy to make a birth difficult. Giving birth is an involuntary physiological process that needs to be protected. And from this experience was born the wish to be a midwife, I wanted as many women as possible to experience what birth can and should be. But Michel Odent put me off: ’do not do that...you are not going to survive the training....midwives are highly medicalised today’. As I was a full time breastfeeding mother for 8 years, I waited.
And then one day in 1998 Michel phoned me to tell me about doulas...and that he could see me doing that. And from that phone call everything started...doula courses first imparted by Michel Odent, then I joined him...doula courses in England, France, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, Croatia, Argentina...and we said ‘no’ to many other places afar for lack of time.
I have been at more than 400 births...I have learned so much. My role is to protect the space of the labouring woman, to keep her partner informed and with levels of adrenaline as low as possible...as adrenaline is highly contagious. And of course...to keep my own levels of adrenaline non-existent, I am good at that.
During the pregnancy I inform the mother about her options, her rights...and I listen. But knowing how important it is to be happy...I often make her laugh!