Wherever you are in your baby journey, whether you’re trying to conceive, or are due any day, you might have heard about the benefits of having a birth doula. Just recently, Amy Schumer sang the praises of Domino Kirke, a birth doula who helped deliver Amy’s baby boy, Gene, earlier this year.
“I was lucky enough to get to have a doula,” says Amy in a recent Instagram post. “Her name is Domino Kirke at Carriage House Birth. What do doulas do? I don’t totally know, but what she did was make me and Chris feel totally secure and supported throughout my pregnancy and the birth process. I really recommend getting one if you can.”
So exactly what is a doula birth partner and should you get one for your delivery?
What is a doula?
What does doula mean? The word “doula” is a Greek word that means “female servant”. Back in ancient times, a maidservant would assist a pregnant woman in the delivery of the baby by getting her whatever she needed to be comfortable.
She would provide back rubs, get water, wipe her forehead, and generally support her and be there for her emotionally.
So, in today’s world, what is a birth doula? In the 60s, when the natural birthing movement started to gain popularity and women began looking into a more holistic, natural approach to labour and delivery without medication and with low intervention, friends, relatives, and other female acquaintances would aid one another in this process, with great success.
There is a common misconception that a birth doula is a replacement for a midwife or a birth doctor. This is in no way true. A doula birth partner isn’t a substitute for your medical birthing professional, but rather, a support system for the mother.
“We have no specific medical training and will not give medical advice or instruction during birth,” says Samsara Tanner, a birthing doula of over 25 years and a certified member of Doula UK.
“A midwife’s job is to focus on the safe delivery of the baby, whereas a doula’s job is to support the mother emotionally.”
Women around the globe have been raving about the birth doula benefits for years. Dr. John H. Kennell, the doctor of pediatrics, researcher and advocate of infant bonding, said of doulas, “If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”
Here are just 10 of the awesome reasons why hiring a doula for birth is a decision you won’t regret.
During your prenatal doula visits, your doula will take the time to listen to you and find out your wants, needs, and desires for your perfect birth. During labour and delivery, she will be your tough advocate and see to it that your needs, requirements, and personal preferences are met throughout the entire procedure.
2) Your birth doula will make sure your birth plan is followed down to a T
She will have spent enough time with you to know your birth plan completely and know what you like and don’t like, and what aspects are especially important to you.
“I can be there to gently remind the partner about aspects of a birthing plan that’s important to the mum,” says Samsara, who has four children of her own and has attended over 200 births. “For example, if you don’t like needles, doulas can speak up for you.”
3) You’ll feel prioritised and listened to
Especially if it’s your first birth, being in a hospital with doctors and nurses running around all over the place, and being in an inordinate amount of pain at the same time as possibly feeling petrified of what’s happening to your body, with people prodding and poking you like you’re some kind of lab rat, can be incredibly daunting.
even noted “the growing recognition of neglectful, abusive, and disrespectful treatment of women during childbirth in health facilities.”
This is the last thing you need during what is potentially one of the scariest times of your life, but you can forget all about that if you’ve got a birth doula by your side. She’ll be there for you and will go above and beyond to make sure that you are listened to and cared for and that all your needs are met.
When in labour, you’ll need help. Help getting up, help sitting down, help switching sides on the bed, help getting to the loo, help on the exercise ball, assistance in and out of the birth pool… Your doula will be your physical human crutch the entire time.
4) You’ll have a helping hand and physical support when you need it most
She’ll give you water, and ice chips, and make sure you’re not too hot or cold, and she’ll create a calm and soothing environment for you based on your personal preference, whether it’s having candles or music, or even dim lighting. She knows what you want and she’ll do her best to make sure you get it.
“Everyone deserves to have a doula,” Samsara says. “We help women during childbirth in a number of ways, which can include talking to them calmly during the labour or giving a massage.”
5) You’ll have your own personal masseuse
This needed to have its own bullet point. Massage during labour is proven
to ease pain and discomfort and your doula knows all the right points to rub to make you feel better. She’ll massage your back, and even your swollen feet.
You can almost think of it like a mini-spa day. In addition to it feeling good, one study found
that massage therapy during labour leads to “shortening of the first and second stage labour duration” and that “by shortening the duration of labour, pregnant women tend to have more normal vaginal delivery.”
8) Birth doulas are advocates for natural births
The concept of a birth doula is a fundamentally holistic approach to labour and delivery. Doulas believe in the power of intuition and listening to and trusting your body. If this method is something you aspire to for your delivery, a doula is the way to go.
She will help guide you to stay in touch with your body during this time. In addition, many people who want to go au naturel opt for a home birth
, mindful birthing, or a doula water-birth as a lot of doulas have experience in these techniques. Having said that, even if you want an epidural and all the drugs possible, your doula will, of course, make sure that all your wishes are adhered to.
9) A postnatal doula can support you even after the baby is born (fourth trimester)
Most doctors and midwifes disappear shortly after the birth, but for a lot of mothers, that’s exactly when they feel the most vulnerable
, overwhelmed, and alone.
Your doula could still be around to help you through this process and to answer any pressing questions or queries. Most doulas have expertise in helping mothers in the critical fourth trimester
, but if not, she will surely be able to refer you to a postnatal doula/postpartum doula to help you through this difficult transitional period.
Benefits of Doula: Summary
What a doula WILL do:
- Provide emotional support to help you through the process
- Provide physical support, often massaging and helping you stay comfortable
- Help your partner through the process also
- Get you whatever you need, be it water, music, pillows, etc.
- Listen to you and your wants/needs, and be your voice
What a doula WON’T do:
- Provide medical advice
- Provide professional medical assistance
- Get in the way of your doctor or midwife
- Make any decisions for you
Here are some helpful resources when looking for a birth doula in the UK: -
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