What are the benefits of having a doula?
A 2013 Cochrane Review by Hodnett et al. which looked at trials involving over 15,000 women, found that when continuous labour support was provided by a Doula, women experienced a:
· decrease in the risk of a caesarean
· increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
· decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
· decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with their birth experience
Women supported by doulas were found to experience shorter labours, were less likely to need an epidural, less likely to need an instrumental birth with vacuum or forceps and the babies to have higher Apgar scores at birth.
Interestingly, the research found that continuous labour support from a doula produced better outcomes compared to support from a hospital employee.
Will hiring a Doula mean that my husband or partner will be left out?
It is wonderful if your husband or partner will be supporting you for your birth. Even better to have a Doula supporting you both! Doulas recognise that your husband/partner is likely to know you best, and that you may turn to them for reassurance and strength. Meet your Doula in advance to find one that you are both comfortable with. An experienced Doula will want to find out what kind of role the partner intends to play during the birth and then work out how she can enhance this, for example teaching the partner some effective pain relief techniques, or helping the partner understand the different emotional states that they will see in the mother during labour. There are times when your partner may need a rest, and the Doula can step in until they return. The Doula has the experience of attending numerous births and is current on the latest obstetric and breastfeeding research, allowing her to provide reassurance to both mother and partner during labour and to help the mother and partner to advocate for themselves during the birth.
I plan to give birth in a hospital with an epidural – can I still hire a doula?
Absolutely! Doulas are not just for homebirths or non-medicated births. Doulas will support you in the birthing environment of your choice. They will also respect your choice to labour with or without pain medication. If you wish to give birth without pain medication then a Birth Doula will fully support you, but equally if your needs change during the labour, your Doula will listen to you and ensure that you have the right information in order to make informed decisions.
Can I afford a doula?
If you are in financial hardship you can apply for funding through the Doula UK Access Fund or you can find out from your midwives if there are any local organisations offering doula support. Alternatively, consider telling your friends and family that you would appreciate a contribution towards the services of a Birth or Postnatal Doula. The Doula UK website offers vouchers which can be used to pay for doula services. These would be a wonderful addition to your baby shower gift list: https://doula.org.uk/product/doula-gift-voucher/
What training do you have?
I undertook my initial Birth and Postnatal Doula training in New York with DONA International. I went on to take workshops in acupressure, Spinning Babies, labour comfort techniques, babywearing and Mexican rebozo. I draw on a variety of these skills as I support you during your birth.
I am a Certified Lactation Counselor in the US with Healthy Children and have since completed a year-long IBCLC preparation course with Breastfeeding London. These courses have enhanced my ability to support breastfeeding mothers during the postnatal period.
If you are interested in natural childbirth, I highly recommend reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Natalie Meddings' new book How to have a Baby is also a lovely read.
A wonderful breastfeeding book is Breastfeeding Made Simple. It explains clearly the fundamentals, which will help you have a strong start to breastfeeding.