The Doula is usually a mother herself, but some of the loveliest doulas are childless. Doula support is about empathy, not necessarily shared experience. After all, no 2 parents have exactly the same experiences, challenges or achievements.
There are two types of Doula:
- Birth Doula
- Postnatal Doula
You will forge a close relationship with your doula through pregnancy. Knowing your preferences, any fears or concerns you may have and your dreams for the birth and after will help her tailor-make her support for you and enable her to provide what you may need from her during labour.
She is there to support both parents, making sure that your chosen birth partner is about to give you the love and support you need from them, whilst being cared for him/herself. A doula is a supportive labour companion giving encouragement and reassurance, as well as attending to practical needs. She is there to help you feel safe, secure and well cared for emotionally throughout the whole journey. A doula won’t leave you alone unless you ask her , wants to make sure you have enough information to make decisions about your clinical care and to make the birth of your baby as positive event as possible – however your baby is born.
She will not replace your partner, unless you wish it, but will be a support to you both as a couple. She is not medically trained and will not replace or interfere with the midwife or doctor. The care we offer is complementary to that of your midwife.
After the birth she will remain until you are comfortable with your newborn. She will usually help begin your breastfeeding partnership with your baby if that is your chosen feeding method. She will leave as soon as you are ready for some privacy.
She will visit you before the birth to discuss your birth plan and any other requirements you may have and will usually visit once or twice after the birth.
Postnatal adjustment into motherhood is a major life transition. Basically, your needs as a new mother would seem simple to define: rest so you can heal, information and reassurance as you gain confidence, nourishing food and drink for yourself, a relinquishing of practical chores to someone else, a place to de-brief and talk about the birth itself and your emotions, and most especially some mothering for yourself. Often, however, these needs are difficult to fulfil.
There are tangible and practical reasons why mothers feel overwhelmed. Extended families that might once have helped out are now far flung, economic demands might keep partners or other family members from being as available or flexible as they might like to be, mothers may have to juggle maternal and wage earning roles earlier and more often. In addition the percent of women having a caesarean birth has increased.
As a new mother/mother-to-be does your list of needs include not only baby essentials but also someone to guarantee you sleep breaks, someone to sit with you and teach you as you learn to nurse your baby, someone to listen wisely and non-judgementally to all your questions and feelings? That is what a postnatal doula does.
Her basic role is to provide non-intrusive, non-judgemental support according to your families needs and wishes. She is there to facilitate your time to settle in, relax and heal, while assuring that the familiar daily household routine remains as anchored as possible. She is there to free you up to do nothing but be with your baby and other family members, or to take the baby so that you can sleep, if that’s what is needed. She is the peace of mind factor.
The doula may provide help with any or all of the following services: emotional and moral support, breast/bottle feeding support, teaching or giving help with baby basics, shopping, cooking, light housework, answering the telephone and taking messages, fielding visitors, pet and plant care, errands, help with older siblings, help with baby so that mum and dad can have time together to settle into their new roles. Although she is not there in a medical capacity, she should also be able to keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary in the mother or baby and suggest when medical referrals might be in order.