A doula is a birth coach. They are trained to make you the most comfortable and knowledgeable you can be during your journey of pregnancy and birth. Generally a doula will have prenatal sessions with you to get to know you and understand your wants for birth. They will be coaching you on techniques to practice, share good resources, answer questions and give information about what to expect. A doula is not medically trained, they support the physical, emotional and mental side of pregnancy, birth and postpartum. They can share what’s normal and what to expect, but will refer you to a medical professional if anything is concerning or medically related.
During labour, a doula will stay with you, providing support in any and all ways that will assist with an easier birthing experience – physically, mentally and emotionally. This includes applying techniques to help keep you calm and at your most comfortable; providing information; and offering support to any other birthing partners you have. They assess your needs and act on them. This ranges from ensuring you’re keeping hydrated, to showing you a new position that may ease the process.
What services does a doula offer?
Typically a doula package contains 2 prenatal visits, attendance during your labour and birth, and a postnatal visit. The number of visits will vary doula to doula and, sometimes, client to client depending on different needs.
There are also postnatal doulas who do packages or hourly rates for assisting with life at home with a newborn; this might include helping you learn how to bathe your newborn safely, assisting you with common breastfeeding concerns, cooking you a meal, or watching the baby so you can shower. The activities also vary greatly depending on each doula and each client’s needs.
What can I expect from a doula?
You can reasonably expect your doula to answer all your questions from the time of hiring until well after the baby’s birth. They build a relationship with you and your family. They answer calls and messages throughout your journey, alongside carrying out in-person visits. Typically, from the 38th week of your pregnancy, they will consider themselves ‘on call’ and will be available 24 hours a day to join you for the duration of your labour.
Virtual doula care is also an option. There are prenatal courses, personal one-to-one virtual sessions and even video call services (for example, zoom) for your full labour and delivery. These packages and arrangements all vary greatly, especially now that doulas are having to shift their way of working to accommodate the rules for fewer support people in birth rooms during the COVID-19 hospital restrictions.
About the author:
Yasmin loves the beauty and power of birth and wishes for every mother to experience the journey as an empowering one. Her favourite moments as a birth doula and breastfeeding counsellor are when mothers recognise and embrace their own strength. She is passionate about birth rights for women and believes the more information a mother has and the more involved she can be in the decision making around birth, the more positive her experience will be.
Yasmin is a community activist in the United Arab Emirates and is running a volunteer Covid-19 Support group with over 20 professionals. Yasmin is a pioneer in change, she’s working on making birth centres a reality in the UAE, to shift the mindset around birth to one of empowerment instead of fear.
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She can be contacted through DeltaStrengthDoula.com.