What is a Doula?
“Doula” (pronounced “doo-la”) is a Greek word meaning “woman servant or caregiver”. It now refers to an experienced woman who offers emotional and practical support to a woman (or couple) before, during and after childbirth.
As a doula, I believe in “mothering the mother” enabling a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered time that she can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new mother whether it is her first or fourth time. This type of support also helps the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience. I am not medically trained and cannot offer any clinical care, but I have a deep and practical understanding of the physiology and processes of birth and provides consistent support and advocacy throughout.
In today’s society there is so much pressure for mothers to act and look a certain way after birth, the image of the new mother is often portrayed by the media when it can often be a far cry from the reality. In many cultures, as my own, women are confined to bed and rest for a period of up to 40 days, where the mother is massaged daily, tended to, nurtured and fed… sounds like bliss doesn’t it. Well this is virtually impossible in our society but with the help of a postnatal doula, a mother can enjoy some of the benefits of a prolonged “lying in” or ‘babymoon’ period. This will help the mother bond with her baby and spend extra time with any older siblings.
As a doula I am dedicated to empowering a family (including partners/ dad’s) to take care of itself and we facilitate this by helping around the house and offering encouragement and suggestions.
Research has shown that the benefits of having a Doula during your labour:
- shortens first time labour by an average of 2 hours
- Decreases the chance of a caesarean section by 50%
- Decreases the need for pain medication
- Helps fathers participate with confidence
- Increases success in breastfeeding
(Mothering the mother, Klaus, Kennel & Klaus, 1993)
Labour and birth can be a daunting experience for some men it’s helpful to remember that a doula can actually be a support for the father too! Up until fairly recently, many fathers did not attend the births of their children. Things have changed a lot though, and these days most fathers are present and many take a very active role in supporting their partners through labour and birth. A doula will never interfere with this hugely precious and personal experience for the couple.
Every situation is different. It may be your first baby or perhaps you have concerns relating to a previous birth experience. Not every birth partner will feel comfortable or confident straight away, and knowing that you have someone supporting you both can take some of the pressure off.
A doula also can fulfil a variety of different practical roles, freeing fathers up to simply support their partner
Doula UK Access Fund
Some parents wish to have a doula but due to the cost are unable to hire one. Doula UK have an access fund which parents can apply to for either a birth postnatal doula. This fund covers expenses incurred by doulas who work for clients in their local community on a voluntary basis. If you wish to apply for the hardship fund, please visit Doula UK.