We are delighted to launch a film featuring several of our doulas explaining more about the Nurturing Birth Doula Course. So, for anyone who is interested in becoming a doula, or knowing how the Nurturing Birth Doula Course works, please visit https://vimeo.com/138516966
We are delighted to have our article “Mothering the Mothers” in the current issue of Juno magazine (http://www.junomagazine.com/out-now-issue-41/). In it Sophie discusses the role that postnatal doulas fulfil, particularly now that most of us no longer live in communities or villages where there is extended family to support new parents. Sophie talks about the different ways in which postnatal doulas can support new mothers – providing emotional, practical and information support to empower and nurture families.
For your copy visit Juno Magazine’s website where you can subscribe for digital or paper copies.
By Sophie Brigstocke
In Monday’s Independent (20th April 2015) Hannah Fearn discussed how more women are employing doulas to support them during birth due to the fear of not having support from midwives. Whilst we welcome positive reports of doulas in the mainstream press there are a few comments that need clarification.
It is certainly true that the use of doulas is increasing in the UK, and internationally, as pregnant women and people empower themselves and take responsibility for their birth experiences. However, doulas are not a new concept – there is much evidence to show that experienced local women have supported those giving birth since time began. Research consistently shows that having a doula present at a birth decreases the length of labour, reduces the number of caesarean sections, medical interventions and/or need for pain medication. It also shows that women and people have better breastfeeding/chestfeeding initiation rates with a much higher percentage continuing to breastfeed/chestfeed at 6 weeks plus.
It is imperative though, that a doula be recognised as a non-medical support. A doula does not undergo a medical training and never replaces the role of the midwife. She or he is there to provide emotional and practical support and to empower a woman or person to make informed choices. This is something that has been recognised by the charity Birthrights as being key to a woman or person’s positive mental state after birth. It is true that the current NHS provision for the majority of people means that they are not supported by a named midwife through their antenatal, perinatal and postnatal experience. Often they meet the midwife who is going to be at the birth of the baby on the day itself. Having someone by their side who has heard their concerns, hopes and expectations in advance of the birth can certainly allay fears and promote a positive environment for birth.
Doulas aim to work alongside midwives, supporting them in their challenging role and enabling everyone to be their best on the day. Many doulas work hard to establish positive relationships with their local midwife teams, becoming members of the MSLC or Maternity Forums at their local hospital trusts, and setting up mutually beneficial events.
The subject of cost came up and the implication seems to be that doulas are looking to charge exploitatively. There are doulas who charge between £1000 and £2000, but the vast majority charge less than £1000, with many new doulas charging significantly less than £500. The birth doula role typically involves several meetings with the client antenatally, being available on the phone or email, going on call for up to 5 weeks, attending the birth (however long that may be), then returning to visit the clients postnatally a couple times to ensure that all is well. It requires a doula to ditch their day-to-day life at a moment’s notice with no idea of when they are able to return home.
Sadly, the benefits of the postnatal doula were not discussed. This is the invaluable support that a doula can bring to a new family, helping them to settle in to their new parenting roles, providing information, supporting feeding, taking on some of the domestic responsibilities, making food, helping to look after other children etc. This cannot be overlooked, and goes far beyond the midwifery remit.
For information about the Doula Preparation courses provided by Nurturing Birth please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07305 044482.
We are delighted to be working with Jane McCrae, a birth photographer based in Sydney, Australia. In the hunt for images for our new website we looked at a lot of photographs and we felt that Jane captures both the beauty of birth, but also how doulas can support women during birth – with a hand on the shoulder, a flannel on the forehead, a calm presence and with soothing words. Her images have an incredible sense of calm, serenity and peace about them. We encourage anyone with an interest in pregnancy and birth to check our her website.
And, we offer Jane our congratulations on the recent birth of her daughter, the story of which is beautifully written on her website.
Nurturing Birth is delighted to have undertaken some research in to the value of doulas in the UK in 2013.
This has been published in MIDIRS, the midwifery journal, in June 2014, and it was taken to the International Conference of Midwives in Prague.
To read the full research article click here.