What, or who, is a doula?
Some of you may be reaching for the dictionary app, or Google, to find out what a doula is. Let me help. A doula is actually quite an ancient ‘art’. It essentially means woman servant, and her role is to help other women as they progress through their journey of womanhood.
The most common doulas today are birth doulas and postnatal doulas with many doulas being trained in both, so they can be hired for either or both services.
A relationship of trust and mutual respect
When you hire a birth doula, the two of you develop the most amazing relationship of trust and mutual respect. She helps prepare you for birth and adjust to life with a newborn. Essentially she does this by helping you make informed decisions and supporting your choices. She provides you with evidence-based information, hands-on techniques, and tips, to enable the transition to motherhood with confidence and assurance.
A doula will give you support through your labour, which has been proven to reduce interventions and increase breastfeeding rates. After the birth of baby, your doula will remain with you for a couple of hours.
A doula will give you support through your labour, which has been proven to reduce interventions and increase breastfeeding rates.Nicola
How a doula can help get breastfeeding established
If you have chosen to breastfeed, a doula will help ensure the initial breastfeed is successful. She will help with positioning and attachment to ensure the correct latch is achieved, all the while gently guiding and assisting you and your baby as you navigate breastfeeding together.
Walking into any situation well-prepared sets you up for a positive outcome. Working with a birth doula will most definitely prepare and equip you through pregnancy, birth, and the fourth trimester.
A helping hand when you need it most
Hiring a postnatal doula can be an incredibly worthwhile investment. She essentially comes into your home for a minimum of three hours a day to help you adjust to the new journey of becoming a mother – be that the first, second, or fifth time. She will be prepared to meet your needs of the day.
For example, perhaps you had a night of cluster feeding and need to catch up on some much-needed sleep. Your doula will enable this by watching over the baby and possibly preparing a nutritious meal for you and your family. Or perhaps the laundry basket needs some attention – your doula will help out here too. All those everyday obligations can be taken care of while you and your baby get to know each other.
‘Mothering the mother’
“The way women become mothers profoundly affects the way their children awaken to this world. When you take care of the mother, you take care of the child.” Heng Ou (Excerpt from The First Forty Days)
It is so important to remember that a mother nurtures her family, but that is difficult when you try to give from an empty cup. Some doulas like to be thought of as mothering the mother, nurturing them so they can be filled up and nurture their family. Helping mum out with basic, hands-on help; signposting to resources, and holding space as a mother emerges and chooses HER style of parenting.
Things are often overwhelming in those early days as hormones settle, you get used to disturbed sleep, and you recover from birthing your baby. If there are breastfeeding struggles, as there often are in the beginning, a doula will be able to correct basic concerns and issues. She can help with minor adjustments and recommend assistance if required.
If there are breastfeeding struggles, as there often are in the beginning, a doula will be able to correct basic concerns and issues.Nicola
Finding the right doula for you
If your interest has been piqued about hiring a doula, then let me encourage you to reach out to your community to find these amazing, servant-hearted women. I do believe everyone who wants a positive birth experience and easier transition (and who doesn’t) should have a doula. But not every doula suits every person.
For this reason, there is normally a free ‘Meet and Greet’ where you can see if you ‘click’ or not. Don’t be afraid to meet two or even three doulas before committing. There should be no obligations or expectations from the doula’s side.