A doula is a professional childbirth assistant. The word doula comes from Greek origin, meaning ‘woman servant or caregiver’. A Doula will holistically provide continuous care and support for you and your family before during and after birth. This care will be in line with your plan for birth and works alongside the hospital midwifery and medical team. A doula is for the most part- not medically trained, however, they are well equipped in understanding the process of birth and how to give you the tools you will need to be confident and ready for birth and motherhood.
During pregnancy, a doula provides education, assistance and support for you, and this often is done in the comfort of your own home, over a few visits. This care before birth will be individualised depending on what you and your family need and usually covers, your health, wellbeing and a thorough understanding of the birth process and the physiology behind it. Usually a Doula will have a set package of care which will include sessions before birth, care during birth and sessions for support postnatally. Often within these packages there is not enough time to cover all birth education and it is then recommended that women attend She Births or Calm Birth courses to compliment the care. Often these courses are run by Doula’s as is the case for She Births.
A Doula will usually come to your home and be an emotional and practical supportive caregiver during the labour process and will help be an advocate for you when you transition to the hospital. They aim to provide you with a pleasant and empowering birth experience, whether this is a natural, medicated or a clinical birth. A Doula during childbirth will usually be guiding you with a positive environment and help be an advocate for you. They will assist with collaboration between you and the hospital team, support your partner, and provide birthing tools such as positioning, aromatherapy, relaxation techniques and massage to help you through. A Doula will also know when to lend a hand, or when to step back for those emotional moments.
We also know they often are the ones taking those precious first photos while a new family is bonding.
After birth, a doula’s role will be supported with newborn care, bonding and breastfeeding and may also involve helping with family care and logistics.
Does Everyone Need a Doula?
Not every women would need a Doula, but they are a good option if you require additional support in the lead up to birth, during birth and the postnatal period.
Doulas are all unique, with different interests, experience and qualifications. Depending on what your needs are, enlisting the valuable help of a doula may enhance your birth and postnatal experience. Doulas have a very privileged position of being involved in such a precious and sacred time in the life of you and your family and they are passionate about what they do, and doing it well.
Dr Morris and our midwife Penny would be very happy to discuss this with you and make recommendations if having a Doula is something that seems right for you.