What is a Doula?
The word “doula”, from ancient Greek, means: “A woman who serves”. It is used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to both the mother and her partner through pregnancy, labour, birth and post-delivery. A doula is able to maintain an objective viewpoint and provides assistance in empowering the couple to make informed decisions. She is not a doctor, nurse or midwife and is not involved in any medical decisions. Through study and experience, she is knowledgeable of the biological processes of labour and childbirth and is trained in, and has an understanding of, the usual medical interventions that may arise. This enables her to explain to parents what is happening around them so that some tension or anxiety may be relieved. She forms a bridge between the medical staff and the parents in all aspects of the birth experience.
The doula becomes the mother’s voice during labour when the mother is unable to express herself. She makes sure that the mother’s needs and parents’ wishes are respected. She creates an environment where the mother feels secure and supported with the assurance that the Doula will remain with her throughout the entirety of labour and birth. The mother therefore feels cared for and supported in one of life’s most paramount moments.
The most recent and largest systematic review1 concludes that the availability of support during labour can reduce a woman’s chances of having a caesarean birth, vacuum, or forceps delivery and lowers the likelihood of needing pain medication. It also assessed how the baby’s condition at birth was improved. Furthermore, it concluded that support by a professionally trained labour supporter or doula, has the strongest impact on a woman’s health and safety during labour and birth.
Research shows that women who are supported by a doula in labour are:
- 28% less likely to have a caesarean section.
- 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed labour.
- 9% less likely to use any pain medication.
- 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively.
Why you need a Doula
The support you receive during pregnancy and birth is a cherished memory that will remain with you throughout your life. A doula cannot guarantee the outcome, but the journey there will be a positive one and you deserve the best experience possible.
Hiring a doula can help ease fear and tension surrounding the anticipation of birth and provide you with someone who is there just for you and your partner.
A doula will: assist you in creating a birth plan, walk you through your options, guide you through relaxation exercises and labour positions, be available for any questions or concerns, alleviate pressure for your partner so he is able to participate where he is comfortable, and assist in breastfeeding immediately after birth. These are just some of the benefits of having a doula on your birth team.
Research shows parents who receive support can:
- Feel more secure and cared for.
- Have shorter labours.
- Be more successful in adapting to new family dynamics.
- Have greater success with breastfeeding.
- Have greater self-confidence.
- Have less postpartum depression.
What my service includes:
An introductory meeting will help us to get to know one another and establish a connection. Keep in mind this may take place at any point in your pregnancy; it’s never too early or too late to meet with me!
Upon signing up, we will set up a prenatal visit. Unless it’s a last minute decision, I usually like to have this done by at least 36 weeks.
We will discuss the following:
- Your fears, questions, any concerns
- Basic health history
- Define your expectations regarding the role of the doula, and the expectations of the birth partner
- Your ideal birth plan and birth environment
- Stages and signs of labour
- Comfort measures for labour
- Labouring and birthing positions
- Pain management
- Newborn procedures and your preferences
- Postpartum support plan
- Labour bags
- Check your nursery layout (optional)
- Provide any last resources needed
Phone & Email Support
I will be available for you any time of the day or night. My continuous support of your birth related concerns is available via email or phone 24/7.
- I am on call for you from 37 weeks until the birth.
- We decide together when and where to meet you in labour (optional to join you at home first).
- Provide emotional support and physical comfort, breathing and relaxation techniques.
- I will facilitate communication between you, your partner, family members, and your health care providers.
- Reassurance on normalcy and encouragement during labour.
- I will endeavour to provide you with all the information needed to make informed decisions.
- I recognize that childbirth is an experience that impacts a woman’s emotions, mind, body, and spirit.
- I will keep an objective viewpoint at all times, and maintain a level of calm.
- I will assist with immediate initial breastfeeding support, positioning, skin to skin and any other related needs.
- I will remain with you after birth until your family is settled and comfortable.
- At your request, I am happy to photograph your birth experience.
Postpartum follow-up Hospital and Home visit
- I will visit you the next day in hospital to continue with breastfeeding support and to discuss your experience.
- We will arrange to meet, once you are home as needed.
- We will monitor your health, well-being, and recovery and keep a look out for PND signs.
- Answer any questions regarding newborn care, breastfeeding, sleep, soothing etc.
- Recommend resources or referrals if need be.
Things I will NOT do…
- Make decisions for you.
- Conduct any medical procedures.
- Give medical advice.
Does a doula take the place of my partner?
As a doula I do not replace your partner. We work together as a team. Doula + Dad = Great Team.
I’m their extra set of hands, their guide if they feel stressed or unsure of how to help you, the calming presence reassuring you both that this process is normal and wonderful, the one allowing them the breaks they sometimes need and so much more.
We’re a team; together we can do great things.
I view giving birth as an intimate experience; each one is unique, beautiful and miraculous with the emerging family as the centre and focus of that experience. As a doula, I strive to help women gain confidence through trusting their own intuition and bodies. My goal is to help you have the best possible experience and achieve your desires for the birth you prepared for.
I believe there is more than one good way to have a baby and that the birth experience can be a joyful and happy memory regardless of the circumstances which surround it. I support a woman’s right to choose what feels right for her. My presence will not be to overshadow anyone, but rather to offer continuous support wherever and whenever it is needed.
Being asked to be a part of a birth is humbling and a great honour for me. I am so grateful for each and every family I have assisted, for allowing me to witness the incredible life changing experience of parenthood.