What is a Doula?

The word Doula is a Greek word, and is thought to mean ‘to mother the mother’, or ‘womans servant’

What are the benefits of having a birth doula?
There are many studies from around the world which have demonstrated that having continuous doula support can make for a better birthing experience.
These benefits include –
  • 50% less caesarean sections
  • Reduction in the use of forceps by 40%
  • 60% less requests for epidurals
  • 40% reduction in the use of synthetic oxytocin for inductions or augmentations
  • 30% reduction in use of pain medication
  • 25% reduction in labour length
  • Increased rates of breastfeeding at 6 weeks post-partum (51% vs 29%)
  • Higher self-esteem (74% vs 59%), less anxiety (28% vs 40%) and less depression (10% vs 23%) at 6 weeks post-partum
(Klaus, M.H.; Kennell, J.H.; Klaus, P.H. The Doula Book: How a trained labor companion can help you have a shorter, easier and healthier birth).

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For a better understanding of how a doula can support you through your birthing experience, see my Sweet Words page and read feedback from some previous clients.

 

What is the difference between a Midwife and a Doula?

Midwives are responsible for all the medical aspects to birthing, as well as of course offering support.

A doula has no medical training and performs no medical procedures. A doula provides support and guidance and makes sure you have all the information necessary to make informed decisions. A doula provides consistency of care from the one person.

Doulas work alongside midwives to provide you with the best care and support possible.

My partner is apprehensive about hiring a Doula. Aren’t you ‘taking his place’?

My role is to support you and your entire birthing team, whomever that may be made up of. I see my job as doing whatever I can to enhance the birthing experience for you as a team.

Often partners, or mothers, can feel emotional, helpless, or even overwhelmed witnessing their loved one in labour. I can offer suggestions as to how they may provide support to you at a level they are comfortable with, help explain procedures or offer reassurance, or simply even tag team with them to ensure they are well rested and hydrated and nourished.

Do you have insurance?

No. As doulas do not perform any medical procedures, nor make decisions on a clients behalf, we are not required to have personal indemnity insurance.

Can we claim your fees as a Medicare or Private Health Cover Rebate?

At this stage no. However we ask that you please take a few minutes to call and discuss this with your Private Health Cover provider, or at least send them an email. The hope is that with enough lobbying they will realise the benefits a doula can provide, and understand that covering the cost of a doula will in fact save them money, as they will be paying for less unnecessary birthing interventions.

I am planning to have a caesarean. Can you attend my birth, and what support can you give me?

Hospital policy and your individual circumstances dictate how many support people may be allowed in theatre with you, so it’s best to make your wishes known to your health care providers prior to the birth.

However a doula can provide support to you and your partner in the event of a planned (or even unplanned) caesarean. A doula can help you prepare for the surgery, inform you of all your options, and try to ensure your wishes are respected. I will support you after the surgery, encouraging skin to skin with your baby if possible, and breastfeeding if that is your wish. I can also support you in the coming days, debriefing the birth experience with you, helping you with general baby care, and if employed by you on a longer term, can offer practical support such as basic housework and some meal preparation if needed (separate fees apply for postnatal care).

Can I hire a doula if I’m giving birth in hospital? Don’t doulas only attend homebirths?

Of course you can! In fact at this stage I have only attended hospital births, as current legislation makes homebirth an impractical choice for many women in Australia. Doulas work alongside the hospital caregivers to ensure you have an empowered birth experience. As a doula I will support your decisions no matter where the birth takes place (and would welcome the opportunity to support a homebirth one day). In fact, most women find the support of a doula even more beneficial in a hospital setting, as we are a ‘constant’ presence. Often the midwives have more than one patient to attend to, and will be busy and frequently popping in and out of your birthing environment. There may also be shift changes. As your doula, I will stay with you for the entire birthing. Of course there may be times where I will leave you and your birth partner for a short time to give you some privacy and allow you to enjoy a quiet moment together, and in exceptional circumstances I may take a short time to refresh myself and rest, so I can provide you with my best support.

What training do you have?

I graduated from the Australian Doula College in 2011 as a Birth and Postnatal Doula. The comprehensive course covered topics regarding many aspects of pregnancy, birth, and the postnatal period, and required me to successfully complete 20 modules of study, and attend three births as a trainee doula.

I have also graduated from Stillbirthday University as a birth and bereavement doula, Supporting Birth Diversity.