laureen and luca

What is a a Doula?

A doula (pronounced doo-la) is a Greek word which means 'woman servant' or 'care giver'. These days it now refers to an experienced woman who has children of her own, and who offers practical and emotional support to a woman or a couple before, during and after the birth of their baby.

A doula believes in 'mothering the mother' - enabling the mother to have the most satisfying, joyful and empowered experience during pregnancy, birth and the early days of motherhood.The services of a doula can vary greatly with the according to the individual needs of the mother, or parents, to be. I believe that a doula's role is to be flexible and to be able to fit in with the given situation, as every birth and every mother is unique.

Why is there a need for a Doula?

Previously, continuous support during birth would have come from one carer, often a member of the family. They would be on hand to provide a nurturing role for a new mother, to guide by experiences and to assist with the practicalities during and after birth.

Community midwifes fulfil this role in contemporary society, but too often they are few and far between. Even though these days hospital births are the most common, it is extremely rare that a mother-to-be has continuous support from one carer throughout and after her labour. Hospital births are also likely to be medically managed, and in such cases intervention methods such as caesarean section or the use of forceps maybe unnecessarily introduced.

On the other hand, a doula at the birth of a child can offer the help, support, and advice traditionally given by the mother or experienced sisters.

The continuity of care is extremely important and a birth doula is a friendly face, a constant support, and peace of mind through the experience and compassion they will bring.

Doulas and Dads

A common question asked about doulas is "Why would I need a doula if I have a partner?"

Well, firstly, doula's do not replace the role of the father in any way. A doula's job is to support and enhance the relationship between parents, not to intrude or to interfere. A doula knows when to be hands on and when to be in the background, allowing the parents their own time together. A doula is also on hand to alleviate the stresses and strains of everyday life during this exiting (and often very tiring!) time, helping out with the simple things such as making cups of tea, carrying bags, or even feeding the parking meter.

A doula can be on hand when Dad needs a break, in the weeks building up, and especially during long and tiring labours! Most of all a doula can give the reassurance and support to a couple in order for them both to play their roles in the birth to their maximum potential, and help start their new family life in the closest and happiest ways.

Working together as a team, with Mum, the loving support of Dad, and the knowledge and experience a doula brings can create an amazing atmosphere for a baby to be brought into the world.

How are Doulas and midwives different?

Birth doulas are specially trained and experienced in childbirth. They have a thorough knowledge of female physiology BUT they cannot provide support in a clinical role - this is the role of the midwife and medical staff. Doulas are not employed by hospitals, nor do they work for any NHS trust. Their concern is solely for the wellbeing of the mother throughout the stages of pregnancy, childbirth and after.

Doulas and medical intervention

A doula's role is support a mother's choice in whatever type of birth she decides upon. Although we wish to see childbirth as a natural process wherever possible, we fully respect the wishes of women in however little or however much medical intervention they choose.

Who employs a Doula?

Anyone and everyone! Including:

  • First time mums who have heard of doulas and feel they would benefit

  • Women who have previously had children but may have had negative experiences giving birth and would like the extra support a doula can bring. (This is often the case with women who have had a caesarean birth (planned or emergency) who would prefer a vaginal birth.

  • Single mothers or mothers whose partner may be unwilling or unable to provide support or be present at the birth.

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