Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Doula's role?
A doula is a professional support provider who trusts and understands the physiological process of childbirth and respects the psychological and social impact a birth experience has on the whole family. Doulas provide practical, emotional and informational support and have no agenda of their own. They know that everyone will birth and parent in ways that are right for them and that, to be able to make informed choices, expectant parents need access to evidence based information.
5 Common reasons for choosing to have a Doula
1. A doula is a comforter.
A doula is there to support the labouring mother in many different ways; pep talks, massages, labouring positions and relaxation techniques, to name a few. She also makes sure the birth environment is what the mother wants (dim lighting, soft music, and so on). She is experienced and can offer reassurance and guidance during what can be a stressful time.
2. Having a doula often means a decreased rate of interventions during labour.
(I explain more on this under Evidence for Doulas below)
Studies show a decrease in the cesarean rate, the use of forceps, vacuum extraction, and episiotomies. The grounding presence of a doula alone can bring a tremendous amount of relief.
3. A doula can bring peace of mind to dad or birth partner too.
Doulas allow dads and birthing partners to take a step back, to rest and refuel, without any guilt attached. Knowing that their partner is being well-cared for and won't be alone can help the father focus on the momentous occasion of becoming a new parent. Having an extra pair of hands makes a big difference to a mother's or birthing person's comfort and pain levels.
4. Doulas know your birth experience matters.
A doula also acts as an advocate, helping the mother follow her birth plan so she can have her desired birth outcome. She works for the mother, not the hospital or the midwife. She will be with you every step of the way because she's taken the time to really get to know you. The goal of a doula is to help the mother experience a positive and safe birth.
5. A doula can mean a better postpartum experience.
New mothers have significantly less anxiety and don't experience the "baby blues" as severely when they have a doula caring for them after the baby is born. Just having someone to talk to and help those first few days after giving birth can help a new mother in so many ways. Have a look at www.evidencebasedbirth.com for all the science.
What does a Birth Package usually look like?
Two antenatal visits, approx. 2.5hrs/3hrs each. This is to go through birth physiology, birth preferences and concerns/questions that you may have. We would also cover some practical aspects of getting ready for birth and the early postnatal period.
As much support via telephone and email as you wish throughout the pregnancy.
24 hour on call support from 10 days before the due date until the baby comes.
Support throughout your labour until after baby is born, you are settled comfortably and baby has fed.
A postnatal visit giving you the opportunity to debrief following the birth, help with infant feeding and go through any questions that you may have.
I work closely with a group of amazing like minded Doulas who act as back ups for me, giving you complete peace of mind that you will be fully supported even in the very rare case of an emergency where I cannot make your birth. Have a look at our Doula Hub website to find out more.
What a Doula doesn't do
Doulas are not medically trained and do not give any kind of advice. They do not:
Carry out any midwifery tasks such as vaginal exams or monitoring the baby’s heart tone
Make decisions on behalf of their clients
Pressure or try to convince their clients to do what they consider to be the best thing
Take over the partner’s role but instead offers support to them too
Leave after a certain number of hours
Are Doulas evidence based?
A Cochrane qualitative evidence synthesis carried out in 2019, which complements a previous Cochrane review published in 2017, explored the effect of continuous support for women during childbirth. The results of these reviews concluded that if a woman/birthing person has continuous support during childbirth, which means having someone there the whole time, both mothers and babies are statistically more likely to have better outcomes.
Two out of the six outcomes showed the best results when the support was provided by a doula – someone who was not a member of the hospital staff member and who was not part of the woman’s social network.
Well known paediatrician & research Dr. Kennell said “If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”
How does having a Doula affect Birth outcomes?
The Cochrane review found that overall, women or birthing people who have continuous support during childbirth experience a:
39% decrease in the chance of a caesarean birth if the birth partner was a doula
15% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth if the birth partner was a doula
10% decrease in the use of any pain medication
Shorter labours, on average by 41 minutes
38% decrease in the baby’s risk of a low five minute Apgar score
31% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience; mothers’ risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience was reduced with continuous support provided by a doula or someone in their social network (family or friend), but not hospital staff.