What is a doula?
The word ‘doula’ is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant or caregiver’. Someone who offers emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. She enables a woman and her partner to have the most satisfying birth experience possible, from pregnancy and into motherhood. This type of support allows the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience too.
Studies consistently demonstrate very impressive benefits for the mother, father and baby, including:
Reduction in the use of forceps and vacuum
Fewer requests for epidurals and reduction in use of pain medication.
Reduction in the use of synthetic oxytocin for inductions or augmentations
Reduction in labour length and fewer caeserian sections.
Increased rates of breastfeeding at 6 weeks post-partum
Higher self-esteem, less anxiety and less depression at 6 weeks post-partum
A doula does not replace a midwife or perform any medical tasks, but complements and works with medical staff.
Do I need a doula if I have a midwife?
Doulas and midwives have very different roles and offer different kinds of care and support during labour and birth. While a midwife has many clinical responsibilities towards you and your baby, a doula’s focus is totally on YOU and your emotional care and support. Generally a doula will be with you right from the onset of labour, helping to maintain your coping mindset, providing physical support and helping your partner to feel supported and involved. A doula also can carry out practical tasks such as filling birthing pools, preparing food and drinks and tidying up after birth, enabling your partner to stay by your side throughout the labour process.
My partner/mum/sister/friend will be with me so why would I need a doula?
It’s wonderful to have people who are important to you by your side during labour and birth, but they may not be able to provide the support you need. For a partner, seeing their lover in labour can be a challenging thing, and they will need emotional support too! Mothers, sisters and friends may have your best interests at heart, but may lack the knowledge to be able to fully help you. A doula does not replace these people; they are there to provide support to everyone involved in the process, but most especially YOU!
Can I use a doula if I'm not having a home birth?
It doesn’t matter what your birth plan is, a doula can help! If you are planning a hospital birth, a doula can help arrange to get you there, provide support during your time in the labour suite, give advice and guidance about hospital procedure to you, your partner or other family members and be on hand to take photographs, run errands or make phone calls so your partner can be fully focused on you and your new baby.
Will my midwife mind if I have a doula?
Midwives and doulas have been working together for hundreds of years to help women give birth. As each has their own role to play in the arrival of a baby, they work as a team to help the labouring woman have a positive and uplifting experience. Many midwives welcome doulas as an experienced person who can provide emotional support to a birthing mother, leaving them free to perform their more medically- focused role in ensuring the successful arrival of a baby.
Will a doula boss me around and tell me what to do?
Not at all. A doula is NOT there to make decisions for you or tell you how you should be doing things. She will help provide you with the information you need to make decisions you feel comfortable with. Her role is to provide you with emotional support and practical advice so you feel enabled and empowered throughout your labour and birth.