What is a Doula
Doula (doo-la) is a Greek word that has come to mean a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical and emotional support to the labouring woman and her partner. The term translates as ‘trusted servant’. Also, a doula is:
a great listener
respectful of the woman, her thoughts and beliefs
trusting of the woman's instincts
a continuous support throughout the birth to her and her birth partner
has recourse to natural pain relief methods
present and responsive to the needs of the woman
aware that each woman is different, each birth is different
not a replacement for the support of the partner
What does a doula offer?
Initially is is good to meet your doula for an obligation free meeting to get to know each other a little, ask questions and see if you get on. If you decide to hire her as your doula she will meet with you and your partner twice before the birth, be available for you to contact by telephone or email from the moment you hire her until six weeks after your baby is born, she will be with you during the entirety of your labour and for some time after the birth, she will also come to see you twice after baby is born. She will be on call for your birth 24/7 from the 37th week of your pregnancy (earlier for twins or more) until your baby is born. Kris also has a birth pool available to lend, a number of books on birthing, breastfeeding and parenting to borrow and is an accredited breastfeeding counsellor.
What are the benefits of having a Doula?
Dr John H. Kennel famously said "if a doula were a drug it would be unethical not to use it". There is a wide range of studies that document and prove the positive benefits and outcomes of having a doula. One study showed a decrease in cesarean rates by 50%, use of forceps by 40%, requests for epidural analgesia by 60% and a 25% decrease in labour length. Click here to read the full article.
What can a doula offer that a midwife, partner or doctor can't?
1) The doula is concerned with only the labouring woman for the entire labour and birth where as a midwife may be shuttling between many other women and have paperwork, handovers and other tasks to perform.
2) The doula focuses on the emotional and physical needs of women, not medical issues. A doctor is trained to see and deal with medical problems and emergencies. Birth is not a medical emergency nor is pregnancy a disease. Labour and birth is a normal physical condition which in most cases, given the right conditions, will not need any medical intervention.
3) The doula remains calm and objective, unlike a family member or friend. Having dads to be in the labour room is a wonderful advancement. However, I am sure many of them would be the first to admit that being in the role of husband, birth coach, advocate and remaining objective and level headed whilst their loved one is having possibly the most intense physically and emotionally challenging time in her life, is a big ask. The doula is not a replacement for a birth partner, studies have shown that partners are more involved, not less, when a doula is present. The doula can give the partner confidence in ways to be with the woman. A doula will give you and your birth partner time and space as and when you need it.