What is a Birth Doula?
The word Doula (doo-lah) comes from ancient Greek, and has come to mean a woman’s helper.
A doula’s role is to mother the mother,
and in doing so she mothers the whole family.
A doula provides non-medical, continuous, emotional and practical support during birth, as well as support during pregnancy and in the postnatal period.
A doula accompanies a birthing woman and her partner to their birth where ever that may be – at hospital, birth center, or at home. We work alongside your main health care provider in whichever model of care is chosen – public, private obstetric, midwifery group practice (MGP), birth centre, or private midwifery care.
Regardless of which model of care you have chosen, having a doula support you during this time is beneficial for the whole family, and can help to create a more nurtured beginning for everyone.
“Anne has truly found her calling… The births of my children, whilst very different in many ways, were both overwhelmingly positive experiences for me and my husband- The skilful and soulful support that Anne provided us during these times was an important part of this and will have a lasting impact on my life, and the lives of our children.”
What About Dad’s or Partners?
A doula does not replace the dad’s/partner’s role in the birth – she enhances it.
Historically women have always been supported by other women during their birth. We know that women often feel safer and more relaxed when they have a trusted support person with them in the birth room, someone who is there solely to ensure their emotional and practical well being.
Feeling “supported” isn’t just a feel good concept that should be downplayed- it has tangible, physiological impacts on how a mother’s birth can unfold.
A doula can provide essential support to dads, partners and other mothers regardless of whether it’s their first experience of birth or not.
Birth and early parenting is often a time of intensity and great change, and having a doula to support dads and partners during this time allows them to also have a more nurtured experience.
Dad’s and partners have their own, often intense experiences, whilst supporting their birthing partner during the labour. Given this it is unfair to expect they will always be able to take on a role of being a labour coach, especially where birth is unfamiliar territory for them – which it often is.
Having a doula present before, during and after the birth can help dads and partners feel more relaxed and safe, which in turn helps them ‘show up’ and provide even better loving support for the birthing mother. After the birth it’s often the dads and partners that express the most heartfelt thanks for doulas being there.
If your husband/partner is unsure about working with a doula, encourage them to explore this more with you, and address any misconceptions or fears that are underlying this.
Honouring and taking action to get the support you need during this time is an important part of preparing for motherhood.
What is the Evidence for Doulas?
Many women find that having the continuous, nurturing presence of a Doula (as well as their partner/husband) assists them to navigate their birth journey with greater confidence. Research confirms that there are many positive benefits of having a doula to provide continuous support throughout labour and birth.
A supportive relationship with a Doula and the sense of being ‘held’ and nurtured can promote safety and reduce the rates of unplanned interventions during birth and help women start (or continue) their mothering experience from a healthier, happier place.
Research has shown the incredible difference it can make to have a doula by your side:
- 50% reduction in caesarean rate
- 25% shorter labour
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- 40% reduction in oxytocin use (Syntocinon)
- 30% reduction in analgesia use
- 40% reduction in forceps delivery
- Improved breastfeeding
- Decreased incidence of postpartum depression
- Greater maternal satisfaction
- Greater partner satisfaction
- Better mother-infant interaction
How you will be supported during your pregnancy
Continuity of Care: we’ll build a relationship and I will be available for you;
Labour and Birth Education: What you really need to know, and practical things both parents can do to help the process;
Support for Dads: childbirth education taught from a dad’s perspective. Practical ways to support and address any concerns;
Birth Planning: we’ll go through your options and and I’ll support you with your choices;
Pain Coping Practices: Evidence based practices including breath work, visualisation, and relaxation techniques you can use to help cope with pain and intensity during birth and life;
Preparing for the unexpected: Preparing for the different possibilities and how to give birth with love and awareness, regardless of the how the birth happens (with or without medical intervention);
Ritual and Ceremony: Support with Mother Blessing /Baby Showers ceremonies, and art creation (belly painting, henna painting, or belly casting);
Physical Preparation: Teaching gentle and safe techniques to prepare the pelvic space to give birth with greater ease, and to support optimal fetal positioning; and
Self-Care and Early Parenting Survival: Feeding and settling a newborn, exploring the roles of each parent, and making a postnatal plan.
Doula support during your labour & birth
On Call from two weeks before your estimated due date (EDD);
Labour Support: meeting you at home in labour, and guidance around when to go to hospital;
Continuous Emotional Support: helping both parents to feel as relaxed and safe as possible;
Practical Support: massage and acupressure for pain coping, applying heat packs, aromatherapy for relaxation and pain relief, bodywork techniques to help make space for baby, support with making informed choices, support if unexpected events happen;
Photography: high quality photographs to capture your family’s birth journey;
Back-up Doula Arrangements: in case of emergency or illness, or very long labour.
Brisbane Doula Availability 2019
I work mainly with Brisbane mothers and families during the pregnancy and postnatal time and currently am only attending a small number of births in 2019. Please get in touch to talk more if you’re interested in birth doula support.