What Do Doulas Do?


Doula is pronounced “doola”, I know, Jaws can’t say it! It’s a Greek word which used to mean a female servant who looked after the lady of the house in childbirth.

Doulas are mums or granmas who provide emotional and practical support to women and their partners during pregnancy, birth and the early weeks with their new baby.

Birth doulas are birth companions, providing mums and their partners with consistent emotional support through labour. They do not perform medical duties, but depending on what suits you, they can support you in practical ways, helping you with an active birth, making tea, looking after siblings, ensuring your needs are met, helping dads get involved as much as they want to. This kind of support can be particularly valuable on a busy, and/or under-staffed maternity ward, where midwives won’t be able to provide continuous one to one support. If you have your baby at home, you may still not know the midwives who attend you. Because of the way birth tends to happen in hospital these days, even if you are lucky enough to have a close friend or relative to be there, she is unlikely to have much experience of labour, or offering practical comfort measures and reassurance when you need it most. Regardless of the type of birth you have, natural or medical, assisted delivery or Caesarean, your doula will aim to help make it the most positive experience possible for you and your partner. In fact, research has shown that doulaed labours result in faster births, far lower levels of pain relief required, as well as lower assisted delivery and halved Caesarean rates. In addition, parents report higher satisfaction with the whole experience.

Postnatal doulas support parents in the early weeks with their new baby. They can visit you regularly at home, support you with feeding, assist with practical tasks such as washing-up and light chores, and most importantly, they can be a listening ear, sharing tips and knowledge when needed, without judging your parenting choices. Mums who particularly appreciate this kind of support are those who don’t have close family locally, particularly if their partners work long  hours or abroad, as well as mums dealing with specific challenges, such as V I or disabled mums, mums of twins or triplets, mums with ill or disabled babies or siblings, mums with mental health problems or postnatal depression. That said, postnatal doula support can be valuable to any new mum, as she and her partner adapt to the exhausting demands, as well as the delights, which a new arrival brings!

Many doulas have additional skills or services to offer, such as massage, acupressure, breastfeeding support, birth pool hire, or providing home-cooked meals.

All Doula UK members such as myself have undergone accredited training around birth and/or the postnatal period, so that we have plenty of knowledge to share with you and a network of doula experience to tap into when needed. We abide by Doula UK’s Philosophy and Code of Conduct.

If finances are tight, DUK’s Access Fund provides doula support for couples on low incomes, so it’s always worth looking into applying before deciding you can’t afford it just now!

 

V I Parents- why hire a doula?

V I parents face the same challenges all parents do, with a few extras for good measure! I’d say there are certainly particular benefits in hiring a doula, if you are V I. Whilst I could argue the advantages of having your baby at home as a V I mum, the reality is that most of you will opt for hospital, particularly first time around. But busy delivery suites can feel quite overwhelming. Having a familiar person who knows you and your partner, is comfortable with the hospital lay-out, staff and protocols and and can help ensure your needs are met can make all the difference. Especially if your partner is V I too, your doula will be invaluable, helping you to navigate the birth room and ward, , keeping equipment out of your way, ensuring you get to the loo promptly, fetching drinks and snacks, making sure you always know who’s coming and going and what’s happening around you. On wards where partners and relatives are sent home outside “visiting hours”, your doula should be able to stay with you if you want her to.

Back home, it can be great to have a doula’s support as you get used to the new routines of feeding and changing, and getting out with your baby. Doulas are there to support you and your partner to care for your baby. We don’t try to take over or do it all for you! Our aim is to help increase your confidence till you feel happy doing things unaided. I think it’s fair to say that this approach can be a real breath of fresh air for us V I parents!

Finding A Doula

You can search for a Doula UK doula at www.doula.org.uk or you might like to contact me to find out whether there is a doula in your area with experience of visual impairment.

What I Do As A Doula

As a doula specialising in V I parents, I bring my own experiences as a blind mum, as well as of supporting dozens of other V I parents over the years. I support couples through pregnancy, as well as postnatally, and because my clients are scattered across the UK, much of my work is via phone or Skype. Obviously, this means that I’m not available for washing-up and nappy changing duties, but if you feel you could use someone with heaps of real life experience of V I parenting to listen, to offer reassurance, encouragement, and help you problem-solve practical challenges, then please do get in touch!

I don’t usually attend births, but if a blind doula’s what you’re after, feel free to get in touch about your individual situation.

To find out more, have a look at my Doula Services page or ring me for a chat.
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