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For World Doula Week: A Top Doula Answers Your Birth Questions

Missed our Wednesday Lunch Club with doula Mars Lord? Don’t worry, you can read all of the advice she shared here

Every week at Mother&Baby we bring you the Wednesday Lunch Club – a chance to get brilliant advice for your fertility, pregnancy and parenting questions from a top expert. 

This week, top doula Mars Lord was on board to answer your questions to raise awareness of #worlddoulaweek.

If you missed the chat, here’s what happened…

As well as having been a doula for eight years, Mars is also a doula mentor and vice chair of Doula UK. She’s passionate about birth and women having access to informed choices, and is a mother of five (including twins).

I've booked a doula but not sure how much I can call/bother her for support! What's the right doula 'etiquette'?

Mars: Your doula is always at the end of the telephone and just an email away. She is there to support you and won't mind you being in touch. Between you both, you will work out how much you can contact her. A lot of our work is done during the antenatal period when we really get to know our ladies, and we are able to really work out the best way of supporting her (and her partner).

Your doula is always at the end of the telephone and just an email away

I don't really know much about doulas. Are they there for you once the baby is born, in the first few weeks, or is it just during labour itself? And do they have medical experience?

Mars: Postnatal doulas are there to support mothers in the first few weeks (sometimes months) of the baby's life. Some doulas are both birth and postnatal doulas and so can support you throughout. No, we doulas don't tend have medical experience. We do not act in a medical or clinical way. We are there to encourage you to listen to yourself and make informed choices.

Do you use a doula as well as a midwife? There are so many people involved in pregnancy and birth and I’m finding it quite confusing as a first time mum!

Mars: Yes, you can use a doula and a midwife. One of the reasons women like to use a doula is because they will already know her when it comes to the day of the birth. A doula does not do anything medical or clinical and so does not replace the midwife. She is there to complement the support that you get from your midwife.

Your doula will be mindful of both you and your partner. It may be that your partner needs a bathroom break or to take a quick walk (just examples, don't worry ladies, we're not sending them away). Your doula will be there to support your partner and keep them going. No matter what the shift patterns, your doula remains as long as you want and need her.

Your doula will be mindful of both you and your partner

I always thought I'd like a doula but I can't afford one. How do I get the same level of support?

Mars: Doula UK has an Access Fund, which is just for women like you. The level of care that you get will not change. We are committed to all of our ladies, whatever their income.

Are water births dangerous? Read the headlines this week and now panicking about my birth plan.

Mars: No, water births aren't dangerous. Your midwife should be experienced in water birth and will encourage you to fully submerge your bump in the water so that your baby is born into water before being brought up to the surface by you (with the midwife's guidance if needed). It is a wonderful way of managing pain during labour and for allowing the labouring woman some space. Did you know that your partner can join you in the birthing pool should you wish?

I've heard about labour mantras and, because I love yoga, really want to try it. But how do I go about finding a good one!

Mars: As with all things, it depends on what fits for you. There are some lovely yoga groups and classes out there, but when it comes to mantras, I think that you should use the phrases that resound with you. So if you feel silly using your group's standard phrase, turn it around and make it yours.

I'm in my second trimester with my first baby and considering hiring a doula for my birth. What 'extra' services does a doula offer that a midwife doesn't provide? Is it worth the cost (and how much normally does it cost to hire a doula)?

Mars: A doula provides consistent emotional support. You’ll meet your doula during pregnancy, at least twice, and you will be able to talk through your hopes and fears about birth. Your doula is there to support both you and your partner.

While midwife shifts might change, your doula will be with you for the duration. Is it worth the cost? Well the women who have used doulas tend to think so. The price ranges from £300 to £2,000. It depends on where you are geographically and the experience of the doula that you use. I would suggest that you book a doula according to how you feel they fit with you.

You’ll meet your doula during pregnancy, at least twice, and you will be able to talk through your hopes and fears about birth

We are having our second child at home and just wondered about involving two year old. We are worried about how she might be affected by her mother’s distress?

Mars: Children are really rather amazing people. We often worry that they will be distressed because we, sometimes, think of birth as a distressing event. In days gone by our children would wander in and out as we birthed. You may find that your firstborn takes up a protective stance and 'guards' the birth space. She might want to find ways to be involved, i.e. pouring water on her mummy's back, welcoming the baby etc. She may well sleep through the entire experience.

If you worry that she may get distressed or that your partner would feel easier without her there, then think about who you might like to either have in your house to watch and entertain her, or have someone who can come and take her away. You may be surprised at how well she takes it in her stride and has no issue with it at all.

Which topics would you like covered in our Wednesday Lunch Club? Let us know in the comments box below.

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