What is a Doula?
I have, I believe, the best job in the world. I have the privilege to walk beside women as they journey through pregnancy, birth and those early postnatal days. I am a doula.
What, I hear you ask, is a doula?
A doula is someone who gives women and their families, continuous support during her pregnancy, during the birth of her child(ren) and afterwards. This is within the mother’s home and wherever she chooses to birth.
What does a doula do?
A doula gives emotional and physical support. She does not give medical advice, nor does she replace the midwife or the doctor.
A birth doula will meet with the mother and partner at least twice before the birth. This is where she’ll get to know you, your hopes and fears for this birth, possibly debrief any previous births and help you look forward to this one.
She’ll provide continuous emotional support throughout the labour, encouraging you with positioning and relaxation. She will also encourage your partner in their role. She is not there to replace, but to support and help your partner to hold the space.
Once the baby is born and has been fed, she will leave you when you feel safe for her to go.
She will return, in those early postnatal days, to visit, talk through the birth and marvel at your baby(ies).
A postnatal doula will also provide emotional and physical support. She will support the whole family, doing different tasks to help with the smooth transition into parenthood. This may be helping around the house, or being with the baby(ies) so that Mum can sleep, take a shower, relax. It may be sitting with mum as she feeds her baby(ies). She will encourage and help the family to learn and listen to their instinctual, parental voices. She is there should you wish to debrief your birthing experience.
Who should hire a doula?
Any woman that wants one. It is not specific to any one type of family. She may have a partner, or not. She may be any age. Doulas are there to support each family as appropriate. When you think about the long term emotional and physical effects of birth on the mother, her partner and baby(ies), I hope that you see how much of a valuable asset a doula could be.