So, the other day while at Indulge Maternity Spa, I discovered that they actually have doulas available. I had heard about doulas before but never expected to find them at my doorstep. If you have no idea what I am talking about, a ‘doula’ pronounced ‘doo-la’ is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant or caregiver’.
More recently, it refers to someone who offers emotional and physical support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. This is the person entirely responsible for ‘mothering the mother’. Because of the complex needs during labor and childbirth, women need consistent, continuous reassurance, comfort, encouragement and respect. A doula provides this individualized care based on their circumstances and preferences.
Doulas have been actively supporting women in labour for a very long time, well before it was the formalised role that it is today. As a result of positive word of mouth (and the need for increased support), doulas are fast growing in popularity.
Who Is A Doula?
Doulas are trained and experienced in childbirth and are usually mothers themselves. While they have good knowledge and awareness of the birth process, a doula does not support the mother in a medical role. That is the job of the midwife or doctor.
Many women consider doulas to be an absolute must, especially for those giving birth in a hospital. Due to the over-medicalisation of birth, inductions of labour have skyrocketed, and are partly to blame for the babies now born via c-section.
One of the biggest bonuses of hiring a doula is the fact that she is a professional birth support person. Doulas are trained in the art of birth support, and have a keen eye and intuition on what a labouring mother needs. Things which a hospital midwife unfortunately does not always have time for (as much as she may want to). Things which your partner may not pick up on or situations he may not know how to deal with.
When we’re stressed, we don’t make the best decisions, and in hospital, that may make your partner, mother or other, completely agreeable to what’s being put on the table. They may feel out of their depth, uncertain or scared. Because of their training, a doula can help guide you to make the right decisions because while they care about the mother they also remain emotionally unattached and level headed.
Types of Doulas
There are two types of doulas, birth doulas and postnatal doulas, with many doulas performing both roles. The major difference is that the role of the post-natal doula is to nurture the mother after childbirth. This may include breastfeeding support, baby wearing assistance, light home duties, massage, emotional and physical support for the mother and so on. Postnatal doulas are particularly in demand as support for new mothers has reduced in modern society. Needless to say, studies have shown that postnatal doulas make a huge impact on the wellbeing of mothers.
A doula may provide some or all of the following services, dependent on her training and skills. Often doulas are also qualified in other therapies too, so it always helps to ask.
Birth education and preparation
Massage and other comfort measures
Optimal fetal positioning
Suggest positions and changes to help ease pain and facilitate a smoother, more effective labour
Provide reassurance and encouragement
Talking through emotional blockages which may come up during pregnancy and in labour
Keep your ‘environment’ going – aromatherapy, music, candles etc
Assisting you with negotiation of your preferences
Photography and/or video of the birth itself, as well as those precious first moments as a family
After the birth of your baby, post-natal doulas are worth their weight in gold. They come into your home and help you out with a huge range of things that will make your days easier and more relaxed. What a post-natal doula offers is varied so you need to check with them what they offer, but here are a few things that may be included:
Infant massage techniques
Settling/sleep help with baby
Overnight doulas will stay with you and help out overnight. Packages and prices vary depending on what’s on offer. For more go to www.indulgematernityspa.com