Volunteer Profile: Gemma Dool

A “random” application for an Amma volunteer post through a Glasgow-wide website for volunteering opportunities turned out to be one of the “best decisions ever” for mum-of-one Gemma Dool.

Now a birth and postnatal companion who has supported two people so far, often at the last minute, she has settled into her role and is passionate about advocacy, education and ensuring each client’s needs are heard. 

During her training in September 2021, Gemma was able to reflect on her own experience of giving birth 12 years ago.

“Learning about the NHS system [and how pressures affect birthing people] was a big thing for me. I didn’t have an advocate when I had my son. I thought they were making decisions that were best for me and that wasn’t the case.”

“My experience has made me more motivated to support people to have a more personal birthing experience; a safe experience and it has to be one that they want. 

After attending a vaginal delivery and a caesarean, both of which were demanding in different ways, Gemma is looking forward to supporting a new client.

She said: “I’ve definitely got a caring nature. It’s a case of offering birthing people advice but ultimately they have to do it on their own. They have to get to a stage where they’re happy and settled and ready to spread their wings.”

Gemma had no experience of supporting births but has been there for friends postnatally, she has found that her role has “come naturally” to her and hat the foundational and continuing training provides her everything she needs to be a confident birthworker.

“Training was informative, I learned a lot. There was so much I didn’t know; for example about how baby moves before birth and how to advocate for what clients want."

“[Volunteers] are really supported by Amma – after each birth we attend supervision and speak to our mentors. We’re fully supported to the hilt. It’s important not to bottle any feelings up- communication is key.”

“You feel very part of the wider service and team and whole organisation. It’s really nice to go back into the fold at meetups and events and see everyone.”

If she could sum up being an Amma volunteer in one word, Gemma said, it would be “delightful”.

That doesn’t mean it’s without its challenges such as when the needs of a parent aren’t met, but meeting different people, during this important time in their lives, far outweighs anything else for Gemma.

“I’ve learned about so many different cultures and traditions and foods. It’s really enjoyable.”

Being a volunteer means “being prepared for the unexpected” and being able to help facilitate birthers wants and needs.

“You have to go in with an open mind, be of service and help with a smile on your face. We can only advise, we don’t tell anyone what to do – these aren’t our choices,” Gemma said.

“You have to be assertive, because people don’t really know what to expect from us and we don’t know what to expect from them. We’re not here to judge, we’re here to help and to support people in their choices.”