WHAT IS A DOULA?
The word doula originates from ancient Greek meaning ‘woman’s servant’. The term was coined in the 1970s to describe an experienced woman who assisted the birthing mother after birth.
This concept however is far from new.
Throughout history and across the world today women continue to support other women practically and emotionally through pregnancy and childbirth.
It is within the relatively recent medicalised history of childbirth that the need for a different type of care-giver has occurred; one that provides continuity of care, prioritises the mother’s emotional wellbeing throughout pregnancy, birth and postnatally; and trusts fully in a woman’s ability to birth her baby.
So while the term and role for doula have now become internationally recognised, the role of a doula is rooted in ancient traditions and wisdom.
A doula is a non-medical female companion, trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother and her partner before, during and following on from childbirth.
You are not doing it. Your body is doing it. And you are not by yourself. You are with your baby who is working very hard. TRUST your baby if nothing else.
– Liliana Lammers
WHAT DOES A DOULA DO?
A doula mothers the mother
Whether you have children already or if this is your first pregnancy, every woman and every birth is unique. So however birth and life with your newborn are unfolding, the most valuable thing a doula offers is continuous emotional support. This comes in the form of positive verbal affirmation, a continuous presence, and complete trust in your power and ability to birth, and mother, your child.
A birth doula:
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labour
- Listens to you
- Assists in getting evidenced based information to help you explore and make decisions that serve you
- Provides access to a library of books and resources
- Explores with you your options and rights
- Supports your partner in supporting you
- Phone and email support
- Recognises birth as a sacred and natural life experience
- Helps you to communicate your preferences to health care professionals
- Advocates for the birthing mother for her right to make decisions about her own body and baby
- Can provide physical comfort measures
- Provides an objective viewpoint
- Continuous practical and emotional support throughout the entire labour process
- Takes care of any practical needs as they arise
- Makes sure you are kept warm and comfortable after the birth
- Offers breastfeeding support
- Provides absolute confidentiality
“I have a real passion for helping women understand our physiology so they are ready and in full trust of their bodies as they birth. Whether that is a Caesarean birth or vaginally. I believe we all need more confidence in our bodies and that we deserve to feel healthy and full of energy.”
Doulas can empower women to achieve the best birth outcomes possible, and all outcomes—for births, infants, and mothers—seem to be affected more positively if support is provided by a doula in addition to the medical personnel.
– Kenneth J. Gruber et al, Impact of Doulas on Healthy Birth Outcomes, 2013
WHY HAVE A DOULA?
THE DOULA EFFECT
Within maternity care the awareness and recognition of continuous one-on-one support for women during childbirth is growing. There is evidence* to show that having a doula can mean:
- Reduced risk of Caesarean birth by 39%
- Reduced risk of instrumental birth
- Reduced usage of pain relief medication by 9%
- Reduced rate of induction of labour
- Increased likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth
- Shorter labour
- Increased parental satisfaction with the birth experience
- Increased likelihood of initiating breastfeeding
- Increased likelihood of successfully establishing breastfeeding
- Reduced the risk of reporting a negative birth experience by 35%
* Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Sakala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7
* Bohren MA, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C, Fukuzawa RK, Cuthbert A. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017
* Brigstocke, S. A survey of doula-supported births in 2013 in the UK. MIDIRS Midwifery Digest, Vol 24 No 2, 2014
WORK WITH ME
If you are thinking of hiring me you can find out more about my packages and rates below:
Unbiased evidence based information and playful preparation for birthing and mothering on your terms
Complete package of antenatal, birth and postnatal support with continuous presence during the labour process
Mothering the mother through the fourth trimester. Emotional and practical support for you at home. Transition into motherhood as smoothly as possible.