How can Doulas nourish your soul?
From the early days of conception through to the first few weeks after birth, women and their families require support through every step of their pregnancy and birthing experience. This is the role undertaken by a Doula, a non-medically trained professional offering practical, emotional and informational support during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
Derived from the Greek word meaning “women’s servant,” the primary role of a Doula is to facilitate a positive and empowering birth. By instilling confidence in the mother-to-be, listening to fears and managing expectations, Doula’s develop a trust-based relationship with women and their families to provide an optimum birthing experience.
Importantly, a Doula’s role is to work alongside obstetricians and midwives, complementing the clinical advice of medical professionals by ‘filling the gaps’.
In Australia, Doulas are becoming an increasingly popular choice for mothers navigating their way through this life-changing period.
Benefits of Doulas
A Doula-assisted pregnancy and birth offers a plethora of benefits.
Notably, women receiving trained Doula support approach birth with positivity in both how they view themselves, and what they can expect from the birthing experience.
In addition, the care and support received from a Doula has been shown to provide women with a favourable birth experience, with some of identified benefits including a decreased likelihood of having a caesarean or an epidural, shortened labour, and reduced use of oxytocin and pain medication.
It has also been demonstrated that Doula care is associated with healthy birth outcomes, such as improved breastfeeding and less likelihood of having a baby with a low birth-weight.
Doulas may assist in relieving symptoms related to:
- Childbirth and labour
- Pregnancy, birth and antenatal support
What to expect from a Doula session
The purpose of a Doula is to establish a relationship with you as the mother-to-be. As such, support is provided on a more long-term basis, and across the stages of your pregnancy, birth and postpartum period.
During pregnancy, a Doula may provide ongoing informational support, helping you make informed decisions and discuss any birth or post-birth expectations.
During labour and birth, a Doula will remain by your side once labour has begun and until the baby is born, using non-medical techniques such as massage, heat therapy and positioning to create an optimal birthing environment. In addition, a Doula will facilitate effective communication between you as the mother, the midwife and/or the obstetrician.
Importantly, as Doulas are not clinically-trained professionals, their role is not to diagnose, provide medical advice or interpret tests and scans. They provide an additional support framework offering emotional and practical care as an adjunct to the medical treatment provided by doctors and midwives.
In Australia, a Doula can provide their services in any birth setting, including at home, a birth centre or in a hospital setting. These services are not covered by Medicare, and the cost of a Doula will depend on who is providing the service. Find a Doula is a comprehensive online directory providing information and resources about Doula services in Australia.
If you are considering using a Doula during your pregnancy, please discuss this with your obstetrician and medical team who will be able to advise you on your individual circumstances. If you have any concerns at all, do inform your Doula who will be happy to address them and tailor the approach to your situation.