Since ancient times women of the community have supported other women during childbirth, offering reassurance and emotional support, preparing food, helping around the home and caring for her other children. Today’s doulas do all of these things and much more.
What do doulas do?
Doulas today are experienced people who support women, birthing people and their families emotionally and practically no matter where or how they decide to give birth or what their parenting choices are. We listen without judgement, give reassurance and provide information to help parents make informed choices.
A doula will work with you during your pregnancy, stay with you for as long as your labour lasts and until you are settled with your new baby. We also offer a helping hand during the first few weeks after your baby is born.
Doulas are not medically trained so we won’t give you any medical advice or carry out any clinical examinations, that is the role of your healthcare provider / midwife. In fact we won’t tell you what to do at all; we listen, signpost you to any information or services you may need to help you make informed decisions and support your wishes. We trust that you know what is best for you and your family.
What experience and training does a doula have?
The vast majority of us have completed some kind of intensive training programme and work within an ethical framework. However a doula training course is not a prerequisite to becoming a doula. Many of the skills we have are innate; they are what make us who we are and we bring these forth into our birth work. Much of being a doula is about human connection; it is about being compassionate, present, listening deeply and holding space for families. Perhaps we always were doulas just waiting for the right time to step into the role.
Doulas do of course have a great understanding of birth and what that looks and sounds like. We learn more about ourselves each day we tread this path and more about birth during service to the families we work with. We avidly read everything we can around birth and love learning new things. It is important for us to keep abreast of latest research so we can provide you with evidence based information and help you to make informed decisions. The learning doesn’t stop, it is a journey for us too!
Do I need a doula and a midwife?
I like to see the role of a doula as complementary to that of a midwife. Our goal is shared; we want families to have a positive birthing experience and that is what we work towards together. I enjoy working alongside midwives and have a deep respect for their commitment to supporting women and birthing people.
What about dads and partners?
Doulas are there for Dad’s and partners, siblings and grandparents too. Birthing partners you are needed and we are there to make sure that you are at your best to support your loved one. We don’t want to take your role, alienate you or push you aside.
We want to draw you in and help you to participate actively during the birth. We can make suggestions so you can use your support skills effectively and give you ideas for comfort measures that might help. A doula is great at understanding what is needed at any given moment and we will take a back seat where necessary or step in and be hands on if that is needed.
The benefits of doula support
Whilst we can’t make any guarantees about the kind of birth you will ultimately have, evidence has shown that continuous support from a doula during pregnancy and birth can increase positive birth outcomes, shorten labour and reduce the risk of caesareans and the need for medicated pain relief.
If you would like any more information, please do get in touch with me for a chat.