WHAT IS A DOULA?
Essentially a doula is a trained support person who helps you through emotionally charged and sometimes physically demanding times. One of the most common forms of a doula is as a professional labour support, most commonly referred to as a Birth Doula. This is the form of doula support we provide at Perinatal Wellness.
WHAT DOES A BIRTH SUPPORT DOULA DO?
A birth support doula will meet with you during pregnancy and get to know your wants and desires for the birth of your baby. Many of the maternity care systems in Australia can not guarantee a birthing woman will have a pre-existing relationship with those with her during her labour and birth of her child. In contrast, a doula is someone who can provide you with continuity of support. She will assist you in working towards your desired birth along with overcoming fears you may have about the birth.
During antenatal appointments she can teach you comfort techniques for labour and remind you of these when you are in labour. She can provide physical support during labour in numerous ways from applying counter pressure, giving a massage or running to fetch heat packs – the list of ways she can physically support you is endless. She is an emotional rock in the room for both you and your partner.
A doula is not a medical professional and does not give advice, although in her role she may provide you with unbiased information at your request. A doula is nurturing and will tailor her services to meet your needs.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A BIRTH
There are several studies conducted researching the positive effects of birth doula support. Some of benefits to a mother and baby include:
- Shorter labours
- Reduced likelihood of requesting medical pain relief
- Reduced likelihood of giving birth via caesarean
- Increased rates of breastfeeding
- Increased satisfaction with the birth experience
- Reduced rates of postnatal depression
Ultimately mothers who choose doulas are motivated to work towards achieving a particular type of birth experience although what this birth looks like will differ from family to family. Some hire a birth doula with the hopes of having a natural birth, others choose a birth doula for the practical and emotional support she can provide, others may choose a birth doula to ensure they have a skilled professional present to assist them to manage potential triggers and flashbacks to a previous trauma such as sexual abuse or a stillbirth.
A birth support doula can not promise you that things will go to plan – the one thing we know about birth is that birth is unpredictable. What a doula can do is support you to work with the factors within your control and assist you to flow with those that aren’t.