Expert tips by Samantha Birch (Doula)
The word Doula is Greek and means “woman caregiver”. Usually, but not always a woman who has given birth herself and studied to provide sensitive, caring support and knowledge continuously during child labour, is a Doula.
Most Doulas however take the role further with other complimentary services. Offering such things as Breastfeeding guidance and advice, aromatherapy, massage, bowen therapy, yoga and many more natural therapies. A Doula offers information for you to make informed decisions regarding your pregnancy, birth and care of your baby. She supports your decisions and never makes them for you.
The practice of women helping women give birth is an ancient idea that is becoming very popular here in Australia. Our maternity system here is under pressure. We are becoming more and more limited in our choices and midwives are restricted, birth is becoming a “medical event” rather than the magical natural family experience it ideally should be. Of course birth sometimes turns into a medical event and the obstetricians are a true blessing in these situations, and some quick thinking and knowledgeable doctors have saved many a life of mothers and their babies. Until there is a problem we should think of birth as a natural process that requires no, or little intervention.
A Doula helps you to come up with the best birth plan regarding your beliefs, health of both you and the baby and your family situation, it should always have back up plans. Birth rarely goes exactly as we want it to so your Doula will go over possible outcomes so she is familiar with your views and choices if things stray during birth. That way there are few times that you will have to make difficult decisions at crucial times.
A Doula is your voice when you have none. She will convey your wishes with respect of your health, the position of the medical staff and get you the best experience she can following your birth plan. She will also help you to negotiate with them if you are not happy with their plan.
After several meetings during pregnancy and even some meetings with the midwives/doctors, she knows your feelings about all of the options available to you and helps you to achieve them. A Doula never leaves your side through labour and talks you through each contraction with calmness and patience, being sensitive of your wishes and vulnerability. At the same time giving support to your partner so he/she can be the support you need. She will individualize your care. This takes away most of the fear and stress of being left alone in the labour room for long periods of time. And the professional talk can be relayed in terms you will understand.
Having a Doula
• Reduces the need for an emergency caesarean section
• More likely to have shorter labour
• Less likely to require epidural, vacuum extraction or forceps
• Less likely to have episiotomies
• Decreases the need for pain meds
• Enhances bonding and breastfeeding
A Doula is a personal guide to take you through labour, prepare you for it and be there for you afterwards. She is knowledgeable, caring and is there for you during the birth.
Are there areas that you wish you had better support in your labour?
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