What is a Doula?

When it comes to childbirth, having the right support can make all the difference. One term that has gained popularity in recent years is doula. But what exactly is a doula?
A doula is a trained professional who provides emotional and informational support to you and your family throughout pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period.
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “servant or caregiver” which is exactly what we are. We exist to provide you with care and support.

What Does a Doula do?

Doulas fill a gap in modern healthcare by providing continuity of care during your birthing experience. A doula can support you antenatally, during birth, and postnatally. They are there to provide support in the areas where you feel you need it the most. It might just be antenatally, or it could solely be support for the birth however most benefit from a mix of antenatal, birth, and postpartum.

Unlike midwives and obstetricians, who may rotate on and off call, a doula is with all the way, as per your preferences which will be discussed in your antenatal sessions, usually you from early labour until several hours after the birth to make sure you are settled and comfortable. This allows the doula to form a deep connection with you and provide personalised support tailored to your specific needs and requirements. Doulas hold space for you and help you find your way through the myriad of options to suit you throughout your birthing journey. There is so much differing advice being offered up that your doula will always be on hand to signpost you to evidence-based research and help you sift through it along with answering any questions that you have.

A doula does not provide medical care, but rather helps you navigate the medical system and make informed decisions on options you may not know existed or you need to make. They offer comfort measures and help you advocate your own needs and desires during birth.
Research has shown that having a doula can result in shorter labour, less need for medication, interventions, and a lower rate of c-sections.

Help and Support

In addition to providing support during birth, doulas also offer antenatal and postpartum support. Depending on your doula’s training, this can include help with breastfeeding, adjusting to parenthood, and links to your local community resources.
Doulas support many different types of birth and parenting choices including unmedicated birth, c-sections, free birth, and loss.

Becoming a doula requires training. There are several organisations that offer doula training, each with its own curriculum and certification. One thing that they all have in common is that they are all trained with the idea of being your biggest advocate and leaving you feeling better that when they first met you.
Some doulas specialise in certain areas, such as antenatal, birth, and postnatal doula work, bereavement, or working for families with special needs.

In recent years the doula movement has been rapidly growing and doulas are becoming well-known and recognised for their valuable contributions to the birthing process.  Whilst still not a standard part of the healthcare system in many countries, they are becoming an increasingly common addition to birthing rooms.

How We Can Help

In short, doulas play a crucial role in supporting individuals and their families during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. How big a role they play is entirely up to you and your needs. They offer continuity of care and personalised support, helping you navigate the medical system and supporting you throughout your journey so you feel empowered to make the decisions that will be right for you. With training doulas provide a valuable service to families and are becoming an increasingly recognised part of the birthing experience.

Nurturing New Beginnings would love to work with you. Contact us here to see how I can help.