“Doula” is a Greek word that translates into ‘mothering the mother’, or ‘womens servant’. She is a birth attendant who’s primary objective is to support a woman during the rite of passage of giving birth. She is an advocate for the woman, and has her best interests at heart throughout the entire process. A doula works with the woman prior to birth, during the birth and then after the birth to ensure that she is prepared for this process, and that she experiences it in the most empowered way. She understands that the process of birth impacts the mothering that comes afterwards.
A doula is there to listen to and nurture the mother during her birth. She understands that birth is a sacred process that requires sensitivity and awareness and she has the capacity to ‘hold space’ for the mother and her partner during the process. She can also help you communicate with your other support members, whether that is in a hospital, birthing unit or with a private midwife and she understands that the partner has the primary role of a caregiver. Her role is to honor the mothers desires and wishes and allow her to let go and allow birth to unfold.
A trained doula also has a tool kit of knowledge and skills to support you during a birth. They use massage, essential oils, homeopathy, awareness, visualisations, movement, meditation, voice expression, accupressure and water (amongst others) to support your body in opening and letting go. She will also support the partner during the birth and she understands that the birth process has an impact on bonding and unity for the family, so the partner, if they chose, is present and active in the supportive role aswell.
According to research undertaken in the US, Klaus, Kennel and Klaus, authors of Mothering the Mother, “How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth” have identified the benefits of having a doula at your birth:
- 50% reduction in caesarean rate
- 25% shorter labour
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- 40% reduction in oxytocin use
- 30% reduction in analgesia use
- 40% reduction in forceps delivery
- Improved breastfeeding
- Decreased incidence of postpartum depression
- Greater maternal satisfaction
- Better mother-infant interaction
I am a firm believer of the continuum of care for pregnancy. Already in my work I am supporting women in their prenatal preparation, throughout pregnancy with massage and in post natal care. I wanted to follow this through and be able to support them also during their birth. This repore and continual care supports the mother physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually for her rite of passage on becoming a mother (or 2nd or 3d time mother!)
As a your doula, I would.
1. Visit you three times before your birth for your preparations. This includes helping you decide on a birth plan and how you can make informed choices and actions regarding interventions and medical options throughout the birth according to your needs now, and if they change during the birth.
2. Be at your entire birth for support regardless of the time of day, day of the week or whether you are having a home birth, birthing centre birth, hospital birth or cesarian. (This includes 24 hour student support for me from a supervisor over the phone, if needed, to ensure you receive the utmost of care)
3. Have two follow up post natal visits
4. Be on call for two weeks before and two weeks after your birth
Please note – as a doula I am part of your support team. This also includes your partner (I hope so if thats what you wish), midwife and obstetrician etc. I am not available for ‘Freebirths’ which is when there is no midwife or medical person present.