This is a question that I know crops up for lots of birth partners as soon as mum mentions wanting to hire a birth or postnatal doula.
Rightly so- you’ve gotten this far without support from a complete stranger, right?! A common misconception of a doula is that they replace the role of the father or birth partner, when actually, our main aim is to make the mum/birth birth partner team even stronger by taking the weight of the unknown and general organisation that comes with meeting a baby off of your shoulders.
To give you a very quick background, doulas have been around for years, but are becoming a popular addition to parents’ birth teams in our modern day world. Traditionally, mothers, aunts, sisters, even neighbours would be around to support a new family during and after baby’s birth. But in recent years that community dynamic has changed dramatically. Our health system is more stretched than ever and doulas are providing more families with emotional and practical support everyday.
It was in 1973 that the term “doula” became an official ‘job’ description- it’s a shame they didn’t pick a name that was a bit more self explanatory!! The word doula comes from ancient Greece and means female slave (lovely!). In this context, it’s someone who assists before, during and after childbirth.
A 2013 Cochrane study found that the presence of a doula during pregnancy and childbirth resulted in a wide range of positive outcomes, including reduced risk of Caesarean and instrumental birth, reduced need for painkillers or epidural during birth, shorter labour, increased parental satisfaction with the birth experience and increased likelihood of initiating breastfeeding.
So what can you, the birth partner, expect from a doula?
In the lead up to the birth, we spend a good amount of time teaching you and mum about the how’s, what’s and what-if’s about birth. Informed parents are confident parents, and we love to see parents take control of their decisions knowing they are doing the best for their newly formed families. This would normally be over 2-3 antenatal sessions in the comfort of your own home in the months before birth.
We help you to write your birth preferences (what you can control) and think through navigating unexpected turns (what you can’t control).