What is a Doula?
A Doula \DOO-luh\ is an experienced person who offers emotional and practical support to a woman (or couple) before, during and after childbirth.
A doula believes in “mothering the mother” – enabling a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered time that she can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new parent. This type of support also helps the whole family to relax, adapt to and enjoy the experience.
How is a doula going to support a family during pregnancy and birth?
As birth becomes ever-more medicalised there is far less continuity of care. A doula is a valuable support during the antenatal period and through the birth itself, enabling parents to make informed choices about their care, signposting relevant research-based information and being a reassuring presence.
Postnatally, she is able to provide the support that women used to expect of their families and community in times gone by. She can give confidence as the new mother learns how to respond to her baby/babies’ needs, recovers from the birth and finds her feet.
You would make a great doula if:
- You have a passion for knowledge about pregnancy and birth
- You are a great listener
- You are empathetic
- You want families to feel empowered
- You are great at drinking tea and eating cake
- You want families to start their journey feeling supported and loved
- You are the person women turn to when they need help or suggestions in pregnancy, infant feeding or parenting
- You are warm and loving
- You want to make a transition to a job where you are in charge of your work load.
A survey of birth doulas conducted by Nurturing Birth showed:
Percentage births which ended in caesarean section
Only 12.5% of births supported by doulas ended in caesarean section, just under half the national rate of 25.5%
Percentage women who had a home birth
26.3% of women had a home birth with doula support, compared with the 2.4% national rate.
Epidural uptake was less than 15%, compared to a 62.9% national average (49.3% spontaneous births).
Breastfeeding at six weeks
96.4% women who gave birth supported by a doula initiated breastfeeding, and of those 81.4% were still exclusively feeding at 6 weeks (as compared to 73.9% and 47.2%.)