Cleannest is more than just the best eco-friendly nappies delivered right to your door. From the beginning we set out to look across the first 1,000 days between carer and child to identify where we can bring families better products, better services and a better community of support. We all know it takes a village to raise children. In that vein, this Really Real series is all about taking you on a (metaphorical) walk around the houses so you can meet the incredible folk in our community.
We couldn’t be more excited to kick off with Dionne who founded D for Doula in 2020. With a background in both Midwifery and Fashion Textiles, she draws upon her 25 years experience to provide non-clinical pregnancy, birth and early postnatal support to expectant and new parents, both in-person within London and online.
Passionate about caring and creating, she launched the DforD Gown, an innovative chic maternity design using research evidence to improve outcomes for mother and baby with sustainable goals that benefit the wider community and environment. (so cool right?!)
Here are a few Really Real Questions to get to know her better:
Where’s your happy place?
In the sunshine, near saltwater.
Describe your occupation
I’m a creative carer. I provide Doula care to my clients and design sustainable clothing with healthcare and wellbeing applications.
What motivated you to pursue your studies or occupation?
Because I couldn’t find a job that would satisfy my desire to provide reassurance, information and empowerment to women and their families during the perinatal period. I found working in the NHS frontline lacked the continual care with my clients, was poorly resourced and found the culture at odds for an art school graduate like myself that thought outside-of-the-box. I would find myself inspecting elements of the textiles used within healthcare and ponder ways of improving them and knowing ultimately it would involve me having to pursue my own path.
What’s one piece of advice that you’ve learned in your professional life that you think others would find valuable?
Our gut is our protection, it’s literally our immunity and our gut feeling is what keeps us safe and allows us to thrive. Get in touch with your instinct. We’re always told to listen, to trust and follow our instinct, but often we don’t even know what that voice sounds like, what it feels like. This is useful for when making decisions about your health, pregnancy and birth as well as your aspirations and goals.
What’s the question you get asked the most from expecting or new families/parents/carers?
“What would you do Dionne if you were me?”, this kind of relates to the previous question. Every pregnancy and person is unique, I have embarrassingly forgotten how many pregnancies and births I’ve supported/attended, but know categorically that any/every parent should be supported in honing their instinct. My role as their Doula is to accompany them on their journey to make their best decision, which is always the safest if they are given all the information, relevant to them, in a timely manner and not under unnecessary duress
What advice do you think your 18-year old self would give you that your current self should listen to?
Stop stressing and enjoy more.
Do you have a role model?
I think Latham Thomas who founded Mama Glow who is based in the states, where the role of the Doula is better known. Her flare for entrepreneurial maternity care and education is very inspirational and I’d love to be able to create something similar in the UK with my brand.
What have you learned during your work as a doula and midwife that you didn’t expect?
Having always been interested in how we work, how we are made, I was always consuming information surrounding history, physiology, body parts and basic biology. I was surprised at how little people knew about their reproductive health before pregnancy - both women and men. I think this is something that needs to be addressed before pregnancy, in a relatable way. I often believe that not being familiar with our bodies is where the source of mystery, anxiety and distrust lies during pregnancy and birth.
I’m not suggesting everyone apply to a Midwifery course. But we can’t go from pregnancy avoidance our whole lives to ‘due any day now’ and not expect some fall out. This is a part of my role, something I’m passionate about and what my clients tell me they find really useful and empowering. Showing, explaining and educating, filling in those gaps in their knowledge in an easy to understand way, without patronizing or overwhelming.
Your recent guiltiest pleasure?
Filet O Fish from McDonalds. It gets me every time I’m busy and need fast food.
What was the last word you had to look up to see what it meant?
Categorically, I used it just now in a previous question. Being dyslexic means I often find myself checking up words to see if I’ve spelt them right or am using them correctly. Never can be too sure.