What is a Doula?
A Doula is a woman who gives support, help, and advice to another woman during pregnancy and the birth of her child and were traditionally servants that were skilled in attending women in labour. Modern day doulas are often mothers themselves, who offer continuous physical and emotional support to a pregnant woman and her family throughout gestation and the birth of the baby. Doulas see the value in having continuous, one on one support and connection during this time and the difference it can make to the birthing mother’s experience and outcome.
Birth is a highly emotional journey for most women and their partners, and to have someone dedicated to supporting that aspect through the entire journey is invaluable. The care, respect, comfort and information that a doula provides is a role onto it’s own and cannot be replaced by other health care providers.
Doulas are fast becoming a must-have companion for birthing women, particularly in the hospital setting, who want a natural or vaginal birth and need assistance navigating the hospital system of medical procedures and protocols. Surprisingly to some, there is a big difference between a vaginal birth and a natural birth, and it will vary on your own interpretation of what natural birth means to you. For some women, a natural birth is a baby born vaginally. This can include the use of drugs, instrumental delivery and episiotomy’s. For others, it is a vaginal birth without any intervention. Completely uninterrupted and unhindered birth, sometimes even free from vaginal exams during labour.
In Victoria, there are a variety of situations in which people choose to give birth: for example at home with a Private Midwife, a public hospital labour ward under Midwifery care, or a private hospital under the care of an Obstetrician. A doula can support you anywhere you choose to be.
A doula is an ambassador for natural birth, they see the link between an empowering birth and a smooth transition into motherhood; and ultimately a nurturer of the future generation for this planet. A doula will also support you to have an empowering caesarean should it be necessary. Giving a birthing woman options through the whole process no matter what path your birth takes is extremely empowering.
Doulas are not Midwives, Obstetricians, or Nurses. But together with these professionals, doulas work to support a woman through her birth. While the focus of the medical team involves safeguarding the physical health of both mother and baby, a doula focuses on the holistic well being of the mother. Doulas offer comfort measures, loving touch, encouraging words, and serve as a spiritual support at a most transformative time in a woman’s life. Doulas work from a place of gentleness and calm through any situation to provide women with an anchor on her birthing journey.
Doulas know how the birthing body works, and have a tool kit of positions, movements, touches, techniques, and endless ideas on how you can engage with your natural birthing powers.
A doula has usually undertaken specific training either in a face to face setting of a training course, or an online course which are becoming more popular. There are also women who have given birth several times themselves who know enough about birth to offer support to other birthing women without having completed the actual training. If the type of training your doulas has done is important to you, it is a good idea to ask where she completed her training and with whom, before you employ her as your support person.