What is a Doula?

by | Apr 8, 2020 | News

What is a Birth Doula: And why are they so important?

Searching the internet for ‘what is a doula’, you will find answers like – a professional support person trained in childbirth education and the needs of a family during pregnancy and childbirth. They provide evidence based research, guidance, hands-on support and a helping hand during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum time. The word Doula originated from the Greek word meaning woman servant.

Over my years of experience I see there are so many more facets to the work and support a Birth Doula provides, including sister or mother figure, counsellor, therapist, someone they have total trust to share their fears, secrets and private matters with. Often we are debriefing with mothers who have experienced trauma and abuse during a previous birth or feel their bodies have failed. We help birthing people be empowered to know and understand their rights, and share the physiological process of birth where they see the system failed them, not their bodies. 

The maternity system has many gaps, outdated policies and procedures and fear of litigation. Because of this, many birthing people can feel unsupported, uncomfortable, misunderstood, disempowered and belittled about their choices if a health care provider disagrees. A doula can help fill these gaps, create bridges, not judge you, respect your decisions and support your choices to help you achieve your ideal birth. 

A doula is independent of the maternity system, and not bound by policies and procedures – they work for you. The system is all about the delivery of a healthy baby, but in who’s eyes and from what perspective. Everyone has a different upbringing, cultural background, religious and spiritual beliefs and different life experiences, which are a huge part of their decision-making process. A doula will make sure both the mother and the baby are considered when looking at the risks and benefits and help you to have the hard conversations that many won’t because it is an ethical issue, religious issue, cultural issue or moral issue, and help you feel confident with the decisions and choices you make. 

The pregnancy and birthing journey into parenthood is a life transition and one that has many emotional, physical and spiritual changes that a woman must go through to become a mother she was born to be. To achieve this she must be supported and nurtured, listened to and valued so she feels safe to let go of her old self (the maiden) and step forward with confidence and empowerment to become a MOTHER! Having a positive and empowering birth, however that looks for that mother, allows her to reach her highest potential and expand beyond what she ever thought was possible. 

A doula helps to reduce your fears and worries, helps you feel excited, assured and empowered during the birthing journey, so you can step into parenthood with confidence.

A couple of the mothers I have supported shared their vision of a doula:

“A loving, trustworthy and generous friend that has nothing but the best intentions for you and your family. An extremely well educated person who is empowered by seeking out information with intention of serving others. A highly intuitive woman who encourages others to live by there own unique intuition to trust themselves fully. A doula is a person able to hold space for another without judgement, she is emotionally capable and equipped to support you through birth, life and death. A doula is strong in physicality, heart and mind. If you ask her to she will be your voice in times of stress or challenges”. ~Sam

“When people ask me what is a doula? I explain, she was my birth personal trainer. So many women are passive participants in birthing their babies. A doula empowers you by giving you tools to be physically and mentally prepared to face the profound, confronting and transformative experience of childbirth”. ~Nickola

In the ‘Happy Healthy Child a holistic approach’ series, in part II Happy Health Birth, you hear what some medical professionals including a midwife, GP, obstetrician, gynaecologists, Neonatologist and a doula educator have to say about Doula’s. Click here to learn more.

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