The term ‘doula‘ was originally used to describe an experienced woman who would assist the mother in breastfeeding newborns. Gaining popularity in the 1980s, the role of a doula would be expanded to include more coaching aspects during the pregnancy to help women avoid caesarean sections, increasing the likelihood of being able to have safe, natural births.
While this is still a major part of a doula’s responsibility today, the modern doula is a childbirth professional who gives emotional, physical, and educational support to a pregnant woman, a woman in labour, as well as women who have recently given birth.
Their goal is to make pregnancy, delivery and post-natal a safe, memorable, and empowering experience for women.
What does a doula do?
A doula is, in short, your pregnancy and birth welfare support. Beginning the relationship anywhere between when the pregnancy is confirmed to a few weeks prior to the birth, doulas act as a coach, educator, advocate and friend to expecting mothers. The primary role of a doula is to provide particular labour-support skills, tactics, and strategies, as well as to provide direction and encouragement. They are not an alternative to medically trained nursing staff, but instead, promote communication between the patient and medical caregivers, and aid the mother in filling in the gaps in her care.
Doulas may provide support throughout the entire pregnancy, birthing and postnatal experience in many different ways.
Physically, doulas can aid an expecting mother via massage, repositioning, breathing techniques and counter pressure. This hands-on support not only relaxes but educates expecting mothers on how to make the whole experience more comfortable. Physical support such as massage has also been shown to increase the natural production of oxytocin; a hormone released from the pituitary gland that can aid with bonding, pain relief and anxiety relief during labour.
Doulas also offer emotional support by being there no matter what for you and the family. Doulas are able to make your journey a much more personal one by offering verbal support, a calm environment, reassurance and soothing music to help make you and your family more positive, relaxed and in control.
Partner support should also not be overlooked. Doulas are not intended to replace your birth partner. On the contrary, part of a doula’s role is to empower and compliment them to ensure they feel more confident and positive about the whole experience.
Doulas are also tasked with offering educational and evidence-based support. Much like the role of birth partner, doulas are not intended to replace the role of medically trained professionals. Doulas work alongside doctors and nurses and support them by offering comprehensive emotional and physical support in key areas that they simply do not have the time to provide. By working with a doula, you will learn real, scientific backed skills to help you to enjoy a more positive, healthy and natural experience.
Benefits of hiring a doula
Multiple studies have shown that women that choose to work with a doula during and after their pregnancy are far more satisfied, confident and positive about their experience than those without. These women are far less likely to require caesarean sections, epidurals and other pain relief medications, and enjoy a longer increased length of labour.
Keep in mind that it is not the doula’s place to tell you how to choose your birth. If you prefer to have a medicated birth or caesarean section, your doula will of course also support you in these decisions with tailor-made practices.
Pregnancy can be a daunting experience, but with the support from the right doula, you can expect to feel far more content and in control of this incredible journey.
Doula services with Nicola Wilson
Nicola can assist you with any support you require throughout your entire magical experience. I believe this should be the most memorable and phenomenal experience of your life and am passionate about helping you achieve this goal.