As a doula working full time in Northern Ireland since July 2015, I have supported hundreds of families as they prepare for the birth of their little one(s), and also in the early days of adapting to have a newborn join the family. A doula is a person who provides impartial, continuous, consistent, emotional and practical support to a family throughout pregnancy, birth and in the early days of parenthood. A doula takes time to get to know the family, to listen to them and ensure they have the confidence to birth the way they want. As a doula I don’t give advice but I support women to make informed decisions specific to their own individual circumstances. I can also advocate for them in the birthing room if they wish. There is research to show that having a doula with you continuously through childbirth:
- can reduce the length of your labour
- decrease your risk of interventions and assisted birth
- increase your chances of breastfeeding
- increase your overall birthing experience.
- reduce the occurrence of post-partum depression (references below).
I work with families from all walks of life, but one thing that is important to them all, is having a positive and satisfying birthing experience. It is important as a doula to provide a safe space for parents to chat about previous births, to unveil any fears, to talk about why their birth unfolded as it is, and to discover what is important for this birth. We discuss their birthing preferences and consider what they want to happen if birth takes an alternative path. It’s important for birthing women and people to have the confidence to ask questions, and to understand why their birth happened the way it did. Feeling powerless, not being listened to, not understanding what is happening and feeling out of control can contribute to birth trauma, which is exactly what we are striving to avoid for the mental health and well-being of the whole family.
Brigstocke S. MIDIRS Midwifery Digest, vol 24, no 2, 2014, pp 157-160
Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Saskala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art No: CD003766.