*Disclaimer: I am currently in the process of completing my Doula training with WOMBS, all information shared on this page will be as I progress in my course.
What is a Doula
The word “doula” /ˈduːlə/, from ancient Greek, means: “A woman who serves” also referred to as a birth companion or post birth supporter. It is used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to both the Mother and her partner through pregnancy, labour, birth and post-delivery.
The Role of a Doula
A doula is able to maintain an objective viewpoint and provides assistance in empowering the couple to make informed decisions. A doula is not a doctor, nurse or midwife and is not involved in any medical decisions. Through study and experience, a doula is knowledgeable of the biological processes of labour and childbirth and is trained in, and has an understanding of, the usual medical interventions that may arise. This enables her to explain to parents what is happening around them so that some tension or anxiety may be relieved. She forms a bridge between the medical staff and the parents in all aspects of the birth experience.
The doula becomes the mother’s voice during labour when the mother is unable to express herself. She makes sure that the mother’s needs and parents’ wishes are respected. She creates an environment where the mother feels secure and supported with the assurance that the Doula will remain with her throughout the entirety of labour and birth. The mother therefore feels cared for and supported in one of life’s most paramount moments.
Research shows that women who are supported by a doula in labour are:
- 28% less likely to have a caesarean section
- 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed labour
- 9% less likely to use any pain medication
- 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively
Ultimately, the experience of birth is unique to every woman but understanding your options in advance, deciding on your preferences, being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, and having someone to guide you through the ups and downs before, during and after birth, can make all the difference.
Some medical aids / hospital plans are now covering costs to use a Labour Doula. Either on their “Maternity Program” or through “Medical Savings”. Contact your medical aid to enquire about this offering.
“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” – John Kennell, M.D., pediatrician