Below is listed some of the frequently asked questions that I receive. I hope you find them helpful. If you have a question that isn’t listed below or you like more information, please feel free to get in touch.
What exactly is a Doula?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek word meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support before, during, and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postnatal period.
Doulas are usually experienced women but are not medically trained and can’t replace the clinical care you’ll get from your midwife or doctor. We provide practical and emotional support. We don’t give advice, but we can help you find balanced information to make informed decision.
Doula’s support women and families in all kinds of situations, wherever and however you want to give birth. The service we offer will vary according to what your needs are.
Why Hire a Doula?
Research shows that the benefits of hiring a doula include:
- Shorter labours with fewer complications
- Reduced need for interventions such as forceps, vacuum delivery & caesareans
- Reduced need for synthetic oxytocin
- Reduced requests for pain relief
- Increases confidence of birth partner
- Increases breastfeeding success
- Increases the feeling of mental wellbeing
How do I choose the right doula?
If possible you should meet with or chat with more than one doula before making a decision. The right doula for you is the one with whom you feel most comfortable. After all, we are going to be sharing in one of the most intimate time of your life, so it needs to be the right person. What that looks and feels like will be different for everyone. Your job is to find the right doula for you. Trust your instinct and go with the doula that you feel connected to and who makes you feel safe and confident.
What makes me different from other doula's?
My passion for women! I dream of a world where women feel informed and supported enough to pursue the pregnancy, birth and parenthood that they most desire. I recognise the absolute power of the female body and want to help the rest of the world recognise it too.
What is my Birth Philosophy?
“… is to provide you with unbiased, evidence based information, that will allow you to make the informed choices that work best for you.”
My own experiences, and experiences of those around me, have really highlighted that pregnancy, birth and beyond has become a process, of which women and birthing people are merely a part of.
Factors include staffing levels, blindly applied guidelines and a need to achieve government set targets. This isn’t a process that easily lends itself to your pregnancy and birth being the personal, positive experience that you had hoped for.
I feel passionately that all women should understand the choices available to them, rather than just being made to feel that they must follow a predefined path.
What is my Postnatal Philosophy?
“… is to support you, in any way you need, that will allow you to settle in to the role of ‘Mum’ to your new baby/babies.”
My focus is firmly on you and what you need. All too often, the focus is almost entirely on the new arrival and this can leave a new mum feeling unsure of herself.
I want to support you to be the best mum/parent you can be, so I focus my role on doing the tasks around you that take up your energy and headspace, which in turn frees you up to spend time with your baby.
I will, of course, provide baby care, if you need a time out for whatever reason, but ultimately, I am successful when you no longer need me!
What support do you offer during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, I provide 2 antenatal sessions, which typically last around 2 hours. We discuss any previous pregnancies and/or births and cover a comprehensive antenatal programme, tailored to suit your birth choices.
I also like to check in regularly with you by phone or message, just to keep to date with how things are progressing and I welcome contact from you to update me after appointments or to ask any questions or request information you might need to better understand your choices.
I go ‘on-call’ for you from 38 weeks, which means I’m available 24/7 to be contacted when your labour begins. (If there is a medical reason why you may be at increased risk of giving birth before 38 weeks, we can agree on a different or exended on-call period.)
Can I still hire a doula if I am planning a caesarean birth?
Absolutely, yes! I have supported a good number of caesarean births. We still cover an in-depth antenatal programme, which focuses on all your choices around caesarean birth, your recovery and how to care for your baby post-op.
What is not included in my doula support?
I am not medically trained and do not give advice, instead I will provide you with good quality, evidence-based information to support your decision making.
I do not:
- Carry out any kind of midwifery tasks such as vaginal exams, foetal monitoring or assessment of scan reports
- Diagnose conditions
- Make decisions on your behalf
- Work with a personal agenda or try to convince you to do what I consider to be the best thing
- Take over your partner’s role
Are you insured?
I am fully insured.
What evidence based research is there that doula’s support better birth outcomes?
A Cochrane qualitative evidence synthesis carried out in 2019, which complements a previous Cochrane review published in 2017, explored the effect of continuous support for women during childbirth. The results of these reviews concluded that if a woman/birthing person has continuous support during childbirth, which means having someone there the whole time, both mothers and babies are statistically more likely to have better outcomes.
The Cochrane review was able to look at six outcomes and document the difference a birth partner made in these areas: use of any pain medication, use of artificial oxytocin during labour, spontaneous vaginal birth, caesarean births, the baby’s admission to special care nursery after birth, and negative birth experiences.
The researchers found that overall, women or birthing people who have continuous support during childbirth experience a:
- 25% decrease in the chance of a caesarean birth; if the birth partner was a doula it was a 39% decrease
- 8% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth; if the birth partner was a doula 15% increase
- 10% decrease in the use of any pain medication
- Shorter labours, on average by 41 minutes
- 38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five minute Apgar score
- 31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience; mothers’ risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience was reduced with continuous support provided by a doula or someone in their social network (family or friend), but not hospital staff
There is a lot more research and studies on this website too.
POSTNATAL DOULAS: Research by experts tells us what many have long suspected, that those new parents who have support and feel secure and cared for during this time are more successful in adapting than those who don’t. Studies have shown that cultures in which women are cared for by others for a defined period of days or weeks and are expected only to nurture themselves and their babies during that time have superior outcomes in postnatal adjustment. We know that women who experience support, compared to those that don’t, have:
- greater breastfeeding success
- greater self-confidence
- less postnatal depression
Coming into the home during the fourth trimester following birth, the doula’s role is to provide education, non-judgmental support and companionship; and to assist with newborn care and family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tasks. Postnatal doulas offer evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and can make appropriate referrals when necessary.
The doula can serve as a buffer for new parents who receive a great deal of unsolicited and possibly outdated advice. The doula can help friends and family members to foster and support the parenting decisions of the new parents by modelling deep respect for the wisdom and decision-making abilities of the new parents. By dedicating themselves to the family in this way, doulas validate and enhance the parents’ intuitive ability to nurture and this encourages them to develop and implement their own parenting style.
(From the DONA Position Paper on Postpartum doulas)