Questions for the Doula!
Is a Doula like a midwife then? -
Both roles are obviously supportive and involved in birth. However midwives are medical professionals and are equipped to deliver babies.
Doula’s can assist you during labour with guidance and emotional support. They can provide you with antenatal information, breastfeeding and postnatal support. But the support doula’s offer is not medical.
Midwives hate Doulas I guess? - Not in my experience! Indeed many midwives later in their career train to be Doulas! Midwives and Doulas both have a common denominator - the woman who is having the baby. They are there for her. Midwives are often pleased to have another pair of hands and has long as a Doula does not stop them doing their job (which a good Doula would never attempt to do) then they are happy as a team.
Surely a partner can do this Doula thing? - Partner support is incredibly important to any woman giving birth. The partner knows that woman’s fears and worries and is emotionally invested in her. However the Doula can take a stand back from the emotion, keep the practical support, signpost to information, listen and reassure both the woman and her partner. The combination of both partner and Doula is a pretty powerful birth support unit! See my website blog on this.
So Doulas are the latest hippy fad are they? - That sounds pretty cool but nope! Doula is an ancient greek word meaning ‘to serve women.’ In ancient civilisations women were always supported by other women at birth and indeed in many cultures today, this is still the case. In the Philippines, women often have up to four other women encouraging and supporting them in their transition! This support for women, by women, was lost in the 1700s when professional medical men became the focus and midwives and women present at birth lost status. However slowly the desire for more natural processes and giving women back the control and to be informed in their births, has led to the reawakening of midwife led births and the value of Doula support.
Aren’t Doulas there to just support natural and spontaneous births? - Absolutely not! A Doula is there to support the woman in whatever and whichever way she chooses to birth. Or in whichever or whatever way birth happens! The Doula is there for the woman. Whether this is a natural birth, a water birth, an induced birth, a cesarean birth, a VBAC or a home birth.
Are all Doulas tree hugging vegans? - Ummmmmm nope! Doulas come from all backgrounds and have all different interests and lifestyles! This is why it is important when you are interviewing your Doulas, to talk to and connect with a broad range of Doulas! You can then decide if the tree hugging, vegan thing works for you :)
Hiring a Doula seems expensive! - It is an outlay of money and obviously, for many, the amount is a huge consideration. It is an investment, an investment into your birth story, your outcome and beyond. Some Doula’s may offer instalment payments, or perhaps you would like to just use your Doula for one part of your transition into motherhood. Instead of the whole package, perhaps just some postnatal support once your partner returns to work? Or maybe your partner and yourself like the idea ,of private and informative antenatal workshops, in your own privacy and home.
Ok so where is the evidence? I need facts! - OK! There are plenty of papers out there!
The evidence points to if you use a doula there is a reduced risk of cesarean birth, instrumental birth and the need for epidural. Labour is shorter and women gain more of a satisfied feeling of how their birth experience was. There are also two other important factors postnatally - Breastfeeding is likely to be more successful and last beyond 6 weeks and a lower incidence of depressive symptoms seems to occur in the women with Doula support.
To find these papers go on doula.org.uk. You will find a comprehensive list of all these papers.