“Giving birth should be your greatest achievement not your greatest fear.”
– Jane Weideman
The role of a Doula has been around for a long time, traditionally in the form of a female friend or family member. It is a relatively new concept in Irish maternity hospitals. I hope these questions help to educate you a little bit more on what a Doula does and doesn’t do.
What is a Birth Doula?
DONA international defines a Doula as
“a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.”
A Doula has knowledge on how to approach labour, birth, and procedures backed by the latest evidenced based research and best practise guidelines. As a Doula, I can also help you to prepare for birth both mentally and physically, assisting you in writing your birth preferences and understanding your choices.
What are the benefits of a birth Doula?
Research has shown that when a birth Doula is present and a mom has continuous support during labour, labour tends to be shorter and with fewer complications. Women who use a doula report having more positive feelings about the birthing experience. Doula assisted births have a reduced need for Pitocin to induce labour or any other delivery assistance, such as forceps and vacuum. There is also a reduction in the request for pain medications, epidurals and cesareans. Having a Doula can also have a positive impact on the birth partner’s experience and their involvement throughout labour.
Will a Doula take over from the role of my birth partner?
Not at all, your Doula is there to support you and your birth partner. To enhance the experience you both have at the birth. As a Doula I know about birth and comfort measures and support, your birth partner knows you. Together we can help you have the most positive birth experience possible.
What is the difference between a Doula and a Midwife?
Midwives are medically trained professionals, whereas Doulas are not and do not perform any clinical tasks or give any medical advice. Your midwife is responsible for you and your baby’s care.
Your Doula is 100% focused on you and your emotional and physical comfort needs. Your Doula does not replace your midwife but works alongside her as she completes clinical tasks and documentations.
Your Doula fills that gap when your midwife is busy with other tasks, breaks or finishes her shift. A Doula is a consistent and familiar person who will remain with you throughout your labour and birth.
What Doula’s Do Not do:
- Perform clinical tasks, such as; blood pressure, fetal heart checks, vaginal exams and others.
- Make decisions for you.
- Speak to the staff on your behalf.
Can a Doula help during Induction / Epidurals and Cesareans?
Yes, inductions, epidurals and cesareans often come with their own challenges – like restricted movement, reduced mobility, additional stresses and worries. During these times mom might feel extra vulnerable and sometimes might need that extra support that a Doula can offer. A Doula can often help you to prepare and switch your focus for these procedures, provide helpful information and stay with you as your continuous support person.
A Doula has knowledge on comfortable positions to help you with even with an epidural or drip. If you’re having a cesarean birth, a doula can help you to keep you focused and calm and be that familiar support person and help you get settled afterwards. Each birth is difference, unpredictable and regardless of the course it takes, a trained, continuous support person makes a great difference.
Will my hospital allow me to have a Doula?
Doula’s are admitted to all hospitals on a case by case basis. You will need to have your Doula approved by the Director of Midwifery in your maternity unit/hospital. This is usually very straightforward and the feedback from hospitals midwives and consultants of DoulaCare Ireland and DONA trained Doulas is very positive.
Can I meet with you first before I decide?
Absolutely, Ask yourself “Could I happily spend time with this person while stuck in a lift?”. It’s a good idea to have an initial meeting with at least 2 Doula’s so you can find someone who is a good fit for you. It is very important that you and your birth partner are comfortable with the Doula you choose. It is a very special and intimate time for you that having a good connection with your Doula is really important.