What is a doula and why would you want one on your birth or postnatal team?
If you heard of something you could take into labour with you that would make you
- More likely to give birth vaginally with neither ventouse nor forceps nor caesarean
- Less likely to use pain medications or to have a caesarean birth
- More likely to be satisfied with your experience
- More likely to have a shorter labour
- Less likely to have postpartum depression
- Your baby could be less likely to have low five-minute Apgar scores (the score used when babies’ health and well-being are assessed at birth and shortly afterwards).
Would you want to give it a try?
According to reviews of research the type of support doulas supply has been shown to do all these things.
You’re probably wondering what exactly do doulas do that can have all these potential benefits? I asked a couple of your local doulas what they bring to your birth team.
Alex and Desiree both work in North Hampshire. As they talk about becoming doulas and what they love about being doulas I hope you will see that the benefits are so wide ranging even for times when that “more likely to” in the research doesn’t turn out to be definitely will. Perhaps we should add to the list, in our experience having a doula on your team will make you more likely to realise how amazing and wonderful you truly are.
How did you hear about doulas or first start thinking it might be for you?
Alex: Unknowingly, I have doulaed for many years. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” sits very closely to me as this is how I started my Doula journey. Then a woman in my village, who I offered support to, asked me if I knew of any doulas in our area. The seed was planted as I supported her and decided to start my Doula journey officially.
Within 2 weeks of deciding to go for it I signed up for my Doula training course and within less than a year I became too busy to continue my long standing medical career. And I love what I do!
Desiree: I heard about Doula’s through my sister as she chose to have a Doula support them through their birth. I was very naive and found it odd and rather ‘hippy’. My sister had the most amazing support from her doula.
Then when was pregnant and began planning my birth I knew I wanted a Doula present and having had a long labour my doula was consistent throughout. It really sealed my desire to be able to offer that same continuity of care, calming presence and support that I received to other women and their partners.
What’s your favourite thing about being a Doula?
Desiree: It’s such a privilege for me to share such an intimate, life changing experience with a woman. Seeing her grow, her strength and her ability to birth regardless of what kind of birth – I truly value that. I love seeing women flourish as they step into motherhood, whether it’s the first time or third time.
Alex: The variety of women and couples I meet and being part of their pregnancy, birth and beyond. I feel extremely privileged being a doula. Seeing women making their own informed choices whatever situation they find themselves in. And then seeing women feeling empowered and those lush newborn baby cuddles at my first postnatal meeting.
What are your top tips for planning a positive birth?
Alex: Gather information, know about your choices, trust your body and your instincts. Never take “no” for an answer unless all resources and options explored. Hire a Doula!
Desiree: Birth is a wonderful journey that can sometimes be smooth and straightforward or it may be windy and long. Birth can be like a picnic – you may have 4 seasons in one day. As much as we can plan, there are unforeseen events that can happen. Whilst it’s great to have a plan, it’s important to know what your options are and know that you have choices. Having a birth plan in place can help. Being prepared for all eventualities puts you in a far stronger position afterwards to feel you retained some choice and control in what happened. Understanding our hormones and our environment plays a huge part in how our bodies relax and function during the birthing process.
Do you have any top tips for new parents?
Desiree: Listen to yourself. Family and friends have the best intentions when they feel they need to ‘offer’ their advice, however there is so much conflicting advice it becomes an information overload. Do what you feel is best for you and your child. Everything your baby needs you already have.
Alex: Restrict visitors, take your time, enjoy getting to know each other, accept help (meals, house chores, childcare for older siblings). Be aware of the 4th trimester. Be gentle on yourself and never compare yourself with other new mums! Sleep when your baby sleeps during the day, even if it’s a cat nap here and there. Get support from a postnatal Doula and don’t feel afraid to ask for help!
Now you’ve had the chance to get to know a couple of our local doulas a little bit. If you decide to include a doula as part of your birth team you will get to know her really well in the antenatal sessions you have together. More importantly, she will get to know you and how she can support you and the rest of your birth team the best way for you. If you’ve got more questions you might like to check out our frequently asked questions page http://www.hampshiredoulas.co.uk/frequently-asked-questions/ and always feel free to get in touch and ask more questions if you don’t find yours is answered there.
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