INSIDER | BIRTH DOULA NATHALIE SOLIS PÉREZ
Welcome to our Insider series, bringing you interviews and insights from experts + creatives from around the globe sharing insights and inspiration to live a more simple and beautiful life.
In this Insider, we chat with Nathalie Solis Pérez about her journey to becoming a birth doula and the life-changing lessons she's learnt along the way. She shares how she supports women through their passage to motherhood and the empowering experience that birth can bring.
My journey to becoming a birth doula...
I have a background in Cultural Anthropology with a focus on women’s and gender studies, rites of passage and cosmology. Learning more about women’s experiences and the relationship between power and gender has always fascinated me. For many years, I worked in arts, culture and fashion, but it wasn’t until I gave birth that I really found my calling. Giving birth to my first son Pablo at home was a very empowering experience. Many women change careers or find a new creative purpose in life after giving birth. I also craved to do something more meaningful, something that had a direct and positive impact on people. Before I even knew that doulas existed I was already doing the work, attending births and supporting friends who were becoming mums. I realised that the birth field was very much at the intersection of all the topics I had always been interested in. So becoming a doula felt like a natural continuation of my previous work as a Cultural Anthropologist. I was lucky enough to train with some of the pioneers in the birth world such as Michel Odent and Gail Tully. Their teachings continue to inspire my work to this day and have given me unwavering faith in the power of women and their bodies’ innate wisdom.
What I’ve learnt about motherhood through my life and work...
Motherhood is both the hardest and most rewarding experience. Like most women I thought motherhood would be much easier than it actually is. I thought I would have a baby, go back to work after a few months and my baby would just fit right in with my old life. What a shock it was to discover that becoming a mother changes your life, your body, identity, relationship and career forever! Nothing will ever be as it was before - and that’s a good thing. I had no idea motherhood could be so rewarding and heart-opening but at the same time so relentless and challenging. Especially without family or a village of support around.
Nine years in and two kids later I am still learning to ask for support but I’m not trying to be a perfect mum anymore. What our children need from us is to be authentic and to learn alongside them. After all this time I have found my peace with motherhood and can honestly say that I love it. In the first few years I was resisting it on so many levels but now I just feel blessed that my two sons have chosen me as their mum and I get to spend every day with them and see them grow up. That doesn’t mean it’s never hard but I have learnt to embrace the ups and downs of motherhood.
"I had no idea motherhood could be so rewarding and heart-opening but at the same time so relentless and challenging."
From an anthropological perspective, it’s interesting that early humans and traditional cultures have always revered a woman’s capacity to create, sustain, birth and nourish babies with their own bodies. This reverence for motherhood is something that is missing in Western society because our culture and maternity care system have largely evolved out of principles and values that are based around industrialisation, patriarchy and capitalism. This is why motherhood is often described as something quite profane or mundane when in fact it is the complete opposite: going through pregnancy and bringing a little soul earthside is as sacred as it gets. Birth is an opportunity for women to feel their power but it’s also a time of great vulnerability for the mother, baby and the father. So this in combination with the immense responsibility that mothering is deserves so much more support and acknowledgment. Mothers and fathers are raising our future society - what could be more important than supporting them?
How do you support women on their journey to becoming a mother...
I work with couples from pre-conception to pregnancy, birth, postpartum into the early years of parenthood. Both in my private practice and in my virtual work I support parents wherever they are at. I provide non-judgmental, evidence-based information as well as emotional and practical support. Every family I work with is unique so I cater to their specific needs and preferences. I do not judge or make decisions on their behalf. I listen, create a safe space, provide acceptance and support. This could for example be around choosing the right care provider, preparing the couple for labour, birth and the postpartum period. We also chat about normal newborn sleep, feeding and behaviour so parents have realistic expectations around the postpartum period and feel equipped for life with a newborn baby.
I support women to work with their body and baby so they can have the most optimal birth experience. I work in harmony with both physiological and medically assisted births. We often think that a woman who had a physiological birth would be more satisfied with her birth experience than a woman who had a cesarean but the truth is that it’s not the outcome of the birth that determines birth satisfaction. It’s whether the mother felt heard, seen and respected throughout the whole process or not. Women never forget their birth and it affects how they enter motherhood. I am there to listen, guide, and help navigate decisions but I leave the power where it belongs: with the mother.
I’m inspired by...
Women, their bodies, their power and strength. I am also inspired by my children and my partner who is an infinite well of creativity and ideas. Inspiration for me means being open, receiving and sensing my oneness with everything around me. I love Julia Cameron’s definition of creativity as something we all possess and have access to as long as we cultivate it. It is part of our Self and not something exclusive to ‘others’. Filling up my own creative well so that I can continue to feel inspired has become a new favourite practice recently. It feels indulgent and playful, almost frivolous, but that’s just what our inner creative child needs!
My favourite Imprint House wares...
I love all your wares because I know they are sourced and curated carefully and meet high ethical and quality standards. Buying less but better completely aligns with my values. So far in the renovation of our house we have used the IH hardware, kitchen and storage products as well as the linen pendant light. We use and appreciate these objects every day and it gives me joy to think about the intentionality that has gone into designing and crafting these products.
Contact Nathalie at The Byron Doula
Images by Imprint House, Dandi Films & Bridget Wood Photography.