What is a Doula?
You might never have heard of a doula before, and you may not even recognise the word. Doulas have existed for ages and can be traced back to ancient Greece when it meant ‘helping woman’. Professional doulas have existed for many years but have been developed into its current form in the 1980’s in the United States of America. In the Netherlands, doulas are referred to as pregnancy or birthing coaches. A doula is part of the birthing team which is comprised of the midwife, partner, and ‘kraamhulp’ nurse; but is not medically responsible. When giving birth at home, the midwife is medically responsible; when giving birth at a hospital, the medical staff is.
Who needs a doula and why?
Whether you are giving birth to your first child and are apprehensive about that, or you are giving birth to a second or …… child; a doula can provide you support, understanding, and up-to-date labour information. Perhaps your first birthing experience was not a positive one and you want a different approach this time. Maybe you’ve fears about the upcoming labour which you can’t put your finger on. As your doula, I want to get to know you, your story, and help you think through you and your partner’s options.
A doula never judges you for the choices you make. It is your body and your baby. As your doula, I trust that you will make the best possible decisions yourself. I’ll suggest solutions to problems, enumerate your options, and support you when you’re afraid or feel overwhelmed. I’ll be there for you when you cry, get angry, or are unreasonable. I will help you celebrate in your happiness. Whatever the case may be, I’ll be there for you.
A doula assists at both home and hospital deliveries. She is your one consistent face and will never leave your side. As your doula, I’ll encourage and motivate you to ask for what you need. Of course, I cannot guarantee you that the birth of your child will be easy. Labour is hard work, whether you hire a doula or not. It can be unpredictable, even if you’re prepared for every eventuality. As your doula, I will help you make your own empowered decisions while ensuring that you don’t lose your own values in the process. Together we will aim for a happy delivery, whatever route it takes. When a mother feels satisfied about her birthing experience, the family has a better foundation from which to move forward together in their new structure.
Call or send me an email for a free consultation to see if we might be a good fit!
What does a doula do?
Typically, a doula looks after her client starting from about the 20th week of pregnancy until a few weeks post-partum. Every expectant mother has different needs and I strive to have a made-to-measure approach. The following topics will be covered for sure:
• Your wishes and expectations surrounding birth by writing your birth-plan and having several meetings with eachother.
• Explaining you what to expect from a routine check-up at your midwife, gynaecologist or a tour around the hospital or birthing centre. In depth knowledge of the Dutch midwifery system and hospital L&D protocol.
• Optimal Fetal Positioning through Spinning Babies techniques for prenatal preparation during 3rd trimester.
• What to do with a breech baby (traditional Chinese moxa treatment, polarity massage, Spinning Babies techniques, Birthlight yoga-exercises) starting from week 35.
• Overdue treatment (starting from week 41) with massage and acupressure combined with aromatherapy, homeopathy, Birthlight yoga exercises and relaxation techniques.
• Physical and emotional support during labour, pain management, birthing positions.
• Massage, acupressure, aromatherapy, homeopathy during labour.
• Giving birth at home or the hospital with or without pain medication and alternatives for it.
• Support before, during, and after a planned or emergency caesarean.
• Post-partum birthing log with timelines and pictures if included in your package or topped up with.
• Yoga postures and breathing exercises according to the Birthlight yoga method.
Scientific research has proven that the presence of a doula shortens the length of the labour and lessens the likelihood of medical intervention. Continuous support during labour results in a higher oxytocin level. This helps, among other things, to strengthen contractions and make them more effective. The results prove and underline the importance of both qualitative and quantitative care during labour. If you want to know more about specific studies, I’d be happy to send you articles which discuss them. Just send me an email or call me!
Difference between a doula and a midwife
Whether or not to request the support of a doula, in addition to your visits to a midwife or a gynaecologist, is different for every woman. It is your own decision, to make you and your baby the centre of attention. A doula is your single point of contact and caters exclusively to your needs, she won’t leave your side. Both hospitals and midwifery-practices work in time shifts with different people on call; that will not likely happen with a doula. This is your birth which should not be influenced by the schedule of a midwife or doctor. You are the centre of attention and the most important person to a doula. Within hospitals or midwifery-practices, there are different interests at stake. A doula protects only your interests and those of your partner.
A doula is curious about your most heartfelt hopes and/or anxieties. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answer to a question, only your answer. A doula helps you to keep your labour as close to your expectations as possible. She’ll help remind you about your own beliefs and wishes and can help you with pain relief if you’d like to have a non-medicated home birth. But she’ll equally be there for you if you decide you want to give birth at hospital with all the forms of medication available there. Should an urgent medical intervention be necessary, then a doula can help you to understand what is going on, in clear language, and the reasons why the medical staff feels they need to make that decision and she’ll explain your options to you. Even though you might like to be in control, you can only control a part of your own birth. Your doula can help you to let go of your fears and can be the connecting link between you and your partner and/or you and the medical staff.