Perinatal Psychologist, doula and reflexologist Alba del Cid talks to MumAbroad about her work and her belief in promoting preventive healthcare. She has 3 daughters aged 5, 10 and 11.
I am one of life’s ‘searchers’, who loves to explore different textures, cultures and aromas. I created a blog in which I try to explore the links between my 11 years as a mother, and the 33 years I lived before that. At the same time I hope to forge links with other parents who may read my blog.
I trained in Psychology, driven by my passion for all those life-stories that I always liked to write. As a child I had read Antón Retaco, who challenged me to see my own culture from a different perspective. When people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I used to say: “I want to change the world.” With this in mind, I worked from an early age as a volunteer with disadvantaged groups, whose varying capacities and origins, for different reasons, led them to be socially excluded. I realised how much I learnt from the feelings of so-called mentally-handicapped, and from the life-stories that refugees told me. Later on, I worked in the developing world, in Africa and India, learning different cultures at first hand.
I returned to Barcelona, and tried to explain to my friends, for example, how a girl in India had invited me for tea in her hut. But they changed the subject (“Have you seen these great purple trousers that I bought!”) so after a while I stopped trying to explain.
Being a mother to 3 girls led me to look for support in the society around me. I knew that in England my sister-in-law ran a playgroup, but I did not find any in my neighbourhood. So I formed a playgroup with other mothers, and a little later, after looking for a nursery for my child and reading the fascinating “Educar para Ser” (Education for Being: Report on an Active School), I took on the running of Xantala Association.
During my second pregnancy, looking for answers to all those puzzles that naturally come your way, I read Laura Gutman to understand how I came sleeping into the world, and trained as a Doula. I also trained as a breast-feeding counsellor, so that I could explore why I had found it so difficult to breast-feed, and as a child and pregnancy reflexology teacher because I was tired of using medicines whose effects I did not understand. In so doing, and quite without meaning to, I discovered the WISDOM of my own HANDS. I studied baby massage with AEMI in order to understand the simple power of touch. I trained in Perinatal Psychology which gave me the perspective to put every learning together to support mums.
In the evenings, if I feel inspired, I dabble with soap-making and making natural cosmetics, so as to give some expression to my half-forgotten sense of SMELL, which has always been my most acute sense.
I have been working abroad with refugees and other communities, so I am especially interested in supporting women who become mothers in a different country where they haven’t got the support network of friends and family.
I offer many different workshops to support other women in their journey through pregnancy and childbirth. As a mother of 3 daughters born in Spain with English-Spanish parents I can also add my own experience as a mother. I offer a service as a doula giving emotional support during birth and after birth and helping families to communicate with the midwife or personnel in the Hospital when they only speak Spanish/Catalan.
My aim is to give support as a psychotherapist to promote positive mental health to new mothers so they feel empowered to become mothers finding their own resources, feeling attached to their baby and supporting them to enable their babies to grow according to their own physiology, needs and rhythm. Being a parent, and specially if you just arrive in a new country, is an exciting and also a vulnerable period of life. Many mums suffer from baby blues after birth, and a small proportion suffer from maternal depression or birth trauma, after birth or a miscarriage. I believe in an approach of promoting preventive healthcare and that’s why I offer a broad range of services: from individual psychotherapy with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensibilisation and Reprocessing), reflexology during pregnancy and postpartum, and workshops for birth preparation and mother’s groups of baby massage and podal reflexology.
By promoting preventive healthcare, I want to help women to be empowered with information and personal awareness of their own emotional resources and limitations to help them to be conscious of the process of getting to the identity of a mother. To offer enough information before or during pregnancy in order to have enough objective information to take their own decisions being conscious about risks and benefits. This means to be more active in front of health professionals to ask and pursue what they want.
I also want to facilitate access to a network, such as mother’s groups where they can get support with a good facilitator who ensures an environment of respect without feeling judged (for not breastfeeding for instance). And finally to offer resources and tools to use to feel more attached to the baby (such as baby massage, a great preventive tool!) or feeling more relaxed and focus on your own needs and your own body (mindfulness, EMDR, focusing) which I use in my services.
To read more from Alba’s blog and to find out more about the workshops and services she offers visit http://criarencomunitat.com