What does a doula actually do?
The simplest answer to this is that I do whatever you need me to. I can go to antenatal appointments with you, assist you to write your birth plan, and be with you throughout your labour.
Perhaps one of the most important things I will do is to provide you continuous support during your labour and birth. For some women this consists of being a quiet, gentle presence for them in the birthing room; for others it means hand holding, massage, encouragement and so much more. I will provide what you need. What I won't do is be overbearing or a cause of stress. I won't try to influence your decisions or make your mind up for you, but I will always be there to provide information and loving support, as much as you need.
It is an incredible honour for me to be asked to support a woman and be present with her during the wondrous experience of childbirth and I never forget how privileged I am to be walking beside you on your path.
Why do I need a doula?
There are so many benefits to having a doula! The Scottish Doula Network provides the following information on their website:
"Research indicates that mothers who had a doula present reported their birth as less difficult and painful than mothers who did not have doula present.
Here are some further statistics highlighting the potential benefits of having a doula (Klaus, Kennell and Klaus, 1993) :
* Shortens labour by an average of 2 hours
* Significantly reduces the use of synthetic pain relief
* Decreases the need for oxytocin to induce labour
* 50% less likely to have a caesarean birth
* 40% less likely that forceps would be used to assist delivery
* 60% less likely for epidural to be requested
* Increases success with breastfeeding
* Encourages fathers to feel more confident and involved."
Still unsure? Have a read of this article by doula Cori Gentry!
"I found Helena to be very helpful and supportive throughout labour, as well as being supportive before and after. During labour she helped me make decisions about interventions and pain relief by asking questions that would help me make up my own mind without pressuring me to any particular decision. She also had good suggestions for positions and things my husband could do to help (e.g. pushing on my lower back during a contraction)."
Rebecca Carter, Polmont
Why does my partner need a doula?
I'm not just there to support the mother, I can support your birth partner too, if appropriate. I can keep both of you supplied with food and drink; field telephone calls and doorbells if you're at home; help to control the temperature by fetching blankets or fans if you're in the hospital; be in charge of the cd player and all these minor little things that would otherwise cause your partner to leave your side.
Sometimes partners can be sceptical, in which case you may wish to point them in the direction of this blog post by new dad Isaac James Baker, 'Hire a Damn Doula' (he doesn't mince his words!)
My presence allows your partner to take a break from time to time, without worrying about leaving you.
And sometimes the one you love is unable to be there with you. Perhaps they're away on business? Perhaps they're trying to get to you but their train is delayed or they're stuck in traffic. Perhaps they really hate hospitals and can't cope with the sight of blood. Perhaps you don't have a birth partner.
I am the one who will always be there. As your doula I am wholly committed to you.
When should I contact a doula?
You should think about contacting me in your fifth or sixth month of pregnancy, or earlier if you would like support with planning a VBAC.
I always have a busy diary, so it's worth contacting me as soon as you can to ensure my availability.