Virtual Doula Support for an Empowered Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum

The Smart Doula

With over ten years of clinical research experience, a biomedical science degree, and two hospital births under her belt, Charlotte Butterworth-Pool uses her knowledge to support you in making informed decisions about your pregnancy, birth and postpartum. She is a Virtual Doula, providing bespoke, evidence-based support to families wanting an empowering birth. Here she talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the passion behind what she does, her biggest breakthrough, and her hopes and dreams for The Smart Doula in the future.

The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?

I set up The Smart Doula to help other families achieve empowered pregnancies and births whilst I had a young family and couldn’t do the traditional in-person doula role.

When I was pregnant with my first, I believed myself to be very well informed. I understood the ‘science’ behind birth, we did an online hypnobirthing course and attended an in-person group course. My husband and I attended all my midwife appointments, we wrote a birth plan and we were excited for birth!

Unfortunately, when meconium was detected in my waters, my birth very quickly became very medicalised, and both my husband and I were left traumatised. This had a big impact on my postpartum and our fourth trimester.

When we decided we wanted to have another baby, I knew that I couldn’t go through a traumatic birth again. I started to use my clinical research background and biomedical science degree to unravel what had happened to me.

What I discovered shocked me, I realised that if I had been informed of the actual risks associated with the things that had happened to me, I would have chosen differently, and I could have potentially stopped the cascade of intervention that led to my traumatic birth.

Second time round, I moved away from the standard birth preparation and immersed myself in evidence-based podcasts, research papers and hospital guidelines.

My second birth, although still in a birth centre (my choice), was amazing! We used our knowledge to make informed choices, and as a result felt empowered and in awe. I went into my fourth trimester feeling ready to take on the world!

I couldn’t stop thinking and talking about birth. I felt such a strong calling to help other women achieve what I had and to support them in making informed choices.

With two small children, I couldn’t commit to attending births or travelling far, but what I can do is support woman virtually!

The launch: How did you start out in the beginning? 

I started my Instagram account as an outlet for all the information swirling around in my head, and I started helping women by calling attention to common interventions and misconceptions they may come across.

I spent time researching a doula preparation course. I found one that I felt aligned with my values and started with the reading and activities associated with it. I attended an in-person course and achieved my certification, and I started advertising on my Instagram account and supporting expectant mamas!

The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business? 

Once I started working with women, I realised that supporting families virtually was a brilliant way of reaching women that wouldn’t have sought support with a traditional doula.

There are certain pre-conceptions about working with a ‘doula’ that can make women reluctant (it is only for hippies, you must want a homebirth, we only support women who want a natural birth, etc.). Of course, doulas support all types of women and all types of birth, but we are still battling against some of these preconceptions!

Virtual support is great for second-time mums who don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to their pregnancy this time around, or first-time mums who want more support than they can get with the NHS but don’t necessarily want someone present at their birth.

Being virtual worked well for the women but also for me. It allowed me to keep a good work-life balance and be available for my young family.

I also realised that the network of support I had built around myself whilst pregnant automatically became a network of support I could refer women I was working with to. There is such a community feel surrounding birth work. The majority of people offer virtual support as well as in-person offerings, so it didn’t matter if they are spread all around the country!

See next page for more…
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *