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Pregnancy | Planning & Preparing

What is a Doula and Do I Need One?

Pregnancy, childbirth and mothering are some of the most amazing, life-altering and mind-blowing accomplishments that a woman can experience. Even though many expectant moms enjoy the support of their partners, some may appreciate or need the support of other women, especially someone experienced or older that can provide comfort and valuable input.

How ideal would it be if we could get back to basics and have most moms experience natural birth the way it was intended to be! With the high caesarean rate, natural births have taken a back seat. The reason for this may, to some extent, be due to fear and a lack of knowledge. Some busy-busy-busy moms also find it more convenient to schedule the birth date in order to get on with life. All that’s needed is a tick in their diary to show that the task as complete and then life goes on as planned. Although we respect every single mom’s choice of birth, we’d like to encourage you to try and go natural. From our side we’ll offer support in the form of solid information to help you decide what birth option will be best suited for you.

So, what exactly is a doula?
Mommy’s little helper

Origin: Doula is a Greek word and means ‘woman caregiver’.

The short and sweet is that a doula is an assistant that provides non-medical support. The support may be during your prenatal period, childbirth or postnatal, depending on your preference and her experience and background. Most importantly, she provides emotional support and an objective viewpoint, something any woman can appreciate!

What does a doula do
What doesn’t she do?

  • She offers continuous physical, emotional and informational support during your pregnancy, birth (home, hospital or clinic) and postpartum period.
  • She understands the birthing process and general medical interventions and can keep you posted on what’s happening at all times, which usually relieves some tension.
  • Provides emotional support throughout your pregnancy, birth and thereafter.
  • Gives tips and advice on physical fitness to ensure a more comfortable pregnancy and birth.
  • Assists in preparing the birth plan; Acts as the your voice during labour and makes sure that the parents’ wishes are respected at all times.
  • Provides massage and other non-pharmacological pain relief measures.
  • Suggests different birth positions and assists with the birth.
  • Provides support to the partner so that he can in turn encourage you.
  • Helps to avoid unnecessary medical intervention where possible.
  • Assists with breastfeeding.
  • Is present during the birth and afterwards for as long as you might need her.

Questions to ask a doula
Her pedigree

  • What is your education for providing labour support?
  • Are you certified by a labour support training program?
  • How long have you been in practice and how many births have you attended?
  • Do you have education and experience in any other type of care such as childbirth education, midwifery care, nursing care, breastfeeding support or postpartum doula support?
  • What is your philosophy with regards to birth? How do you view your role at the birth?
  • Can you supply us with recent references?
  • What services do you provide during labour and birth? What do you bring with you?
  • How do you help women cope with labour pain?
  • At what stage would you be with me in labour? How long would you stay after the birth?
  • Do you offer any postpartum services? Breastfeeding advice and assistance?
  • Are you available by phone? In person?
  • Where would my husband fit in?
  • What is your fee, what does it include and how is it payable? Any hidden costs?
  • Are you available at all times and if not, what is the back-up plan? Can I meet the back-up individual?
  • Do you know of anything that may cause you to be unavailable?
  • Do you have any other clients that are due around the same time as me?
  • What is your relationship with midwives, medical caregivers, hospitals etc.? Have you ever worked with my caregiver of choice?
  • What do you expect from us?
  • If you were looking for a doula to assist at your birth, what would you look for?
  • How do you feel about……. (list any concerns).

Interesting facts
Did you know?

A world wide study involving more than 1500 women found that moms that made use of doulas were the ones with the shortest labours (can life get any better?!) More interesting stats with regards to doulas:

  • Greater than 50% drop in caesarean births
  • 30% reduction in the mother’s need for medication
  • 60% reduction in epidural requests
  • 40% reduction in forceps delivery

There you have it. It’s important to be informed so that you can make an educated decision when it comes to choosing a winning pregnancy and childbirth team.


“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”
- Suzanne Arms ‘Birthing the Future’

Click here if you want to list your services as a doula on our website

References:
Doula.org
Wombs.org.za

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