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Doula Support During Pregnancy, labour and Early Motherhood.

What is a Doula and what do they do?

The word Doula comes from the greek language and means ‘woman’s servant or caregiver’. Traditionally birthing was a woman’s job and often the birth was attended by another female such as a mother, sister or friend. This inspired the formal training of a Doula (also known as a birth attendant) in order to have someone present to emotionally and physically support the woman but without the emotional attachment (so they don’t get caught up in the pain like family and friend’s tend to). A Doula believes in ‘mothering the mother’ and giving that woman the support she needs to have an amazing and enjoyable experience during pregnancy, through labour and into motherhood.

In more recent times it is almost expected that the father or partner will be there. A Doula is also a support the for them. Having someone that is experienced with childbirth and has an understanding of the female physiology and stages of labour is very comforting for for both the mother and her partner. It also means that the partner can have a break and keep their energy up, knowing the laboring woman is in great hands.

The earlier you meet with your Doula the better. They are there to help you plan and prepare for the labour too including birth plans, talking over fears you may have, educating you on what to expect, giving you ideas for how to have the birth place set up so its the ideal environment and not to mention she will be at your side as soon as you need her when pre-labour begins. 

A Doula is not present to provide a medical role, that is the job of your midwife or doctor. If there are decisions to be made she will liase with the medical staff and give you all options. As long as it is safe for you and your baby she will often buy you time and empower you to birth naturally. Should a complication occur and medical intervention be required she will remain by your side as long as you need her. This is often handy if the baby needs to go to NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) as it means the partner can stay with the baby and the woman has an emotional support as well.

Types of Doulas – many doulas are trained in both roles

  1. Birth Doula: The role of a birth doula is to prepare the woman for labour, support her through pre-labour, be her advocate through-out labour and ensure she has adequate time to debrief post birth.

  2. Post-Natal Doula: The role of a post natal doula is to nurture the mother at home after childbirth. This included roles like assisting with establishing breastfeeding, helping out with cooking and chores, looking after the baby so the mum can get some things done and even babysitting other siblings so she can have time to bond with her baby.

The Promise of a Doula

  1. You cannot hurt my feelings during labour

  2. I won’t lie to you during labour

  3. I will do everything in my power so you don’t suffer

  4. I will help you feel safe

  5. I cannot speak for you; but i will make sure you have a voice and i will make sure you are heard

What is the Research behind having a Doula?

There are many documented studies that support that having a doula present at the birth has many benefits including decreased labour time, less pain, less use of drugs, less chance of tearing, less chance of intervention such as ventouse, forceps or caesarean, less anxiety, greater satisfaction, less chance of post natal depression, better self esteem and easier breastfeeding. Check out the statistic below, the benefits of being supported are amazing!

  • Caesarian sections decreased by 50%

  • Reduction of the use of forceps by 40%

  • Decreased requests for an epidural by 60%

  • Reduction in inductions by 40%

  • Reduction in use of pain medications by 30%

  • Decreased labour time by 25%

  • Increased rates of breastfeeding at 6 week post birth – 50% versus 29%

  • Increased self esteem at 6 week post birth – 74% versus 59%

  • Decreased anxiety at 6 week post birth – 28% versus 40%

  • Decreased PND (post natal depression) at 6 week post birth – 10% versus 23%

The studies above were not affected by a woman’s economic status or whether she was a public or a private patient. Over-all with a doula on the the birth team, male partners reported greater levels of satisfaction after the birth and mother’s also reported feeling more satisfied with their partner role at birth too!

Doula’s at Health Space

We are very lucky at Health Space to have 2 qualified Doula’s to work with our clients. Maggie is an amazing fertility and pregnancy acupuncturist and Kate has many years experience as a chiropractor, massage therapist and kinesiologist. They work as a Doula solely for Health Space clients.

Maggie Godin – click here for her biography

Kate Wood (McMaster)- click here for her biography

Find a Doula:

For all other inquiries regarding how to find a doula visit the Birth Right Website – click here

Author: Kate Wood

Kate has represented Australia as an 800m runner, winning five Australian titles and competing on the international stage. She also lectured track & field at the Australian College of Physical Education. After being forced into an early retirement due to injury, Kate turned to helping others with their health and wellness, with a special focus on families, pre-conception, pregnancy and paediatrics.

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