About Doulas

Physicians and midwives are responsible for monitoring labour, assessing the medical condition of the mother and baby, and treating complications when they arise. But childbirth is also an emotional and spiritual experience with long-term impact on a woman's personal well being. A doula is constantly aware that the mother and her partner will remember this experience throughout their lives. By "mothering the mother" during childbirth the doula supports the parents in having a positive and memorable birth experience. The benefits of doula care have been recognized worldwide. The Medical Leadership Council of Washington, D.C, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the World Health Organization are among the many healthcare organizations that value the benefits that doulas provide to women in labour.

 

"I had a doula for the birth of my first child Jack in August 2006. My doula was a constant support for me in my pregnancy journey. I had a massive learning curve, starting with wanting an elective Caesar to avoid the pain of labour, because I was so very scared of birth, through to choosing to listen to my growing instincts, and follow my heart, and have a homebirth.

I had a difficult time in pregnancy choosing a midwife, I interviewed so many because I was particular about finding the right click, and in the end left my choice quite late. Then, when I did book one late pregnancy, she had to pull out a few weeks before my due date, and I was left to find another. I had a backup booked, but did not feel comfortable with her, and spent the day of labour calling a backup list I had created. In the end no one could come except my backup midwife that I had not wanted, but she ended up being utterly awesome. I had a fantastic birth at home.

My doula's role in all this was to be my constant. I had met her maybe halfway through my pregnancy, and booked her way before I booked any midwives. She proved to be my one constant strength throughout the rest of the pregnancy. As I went through all my battles, my doula was there to support me, encourage me, and be a sounding board for me. She was strong and calm.

On the day of labour, my doula took over my list, calling midwives for me, and helped me with some of that work.

On the day of labour, I had my husband there and my 14yr old step daughter supporting me for some time, before I decided to call my doula. As soon as my doula arrived, I felt relieved. I felt the female woman energy, the energy of a woman that has birthed before. She was immediately there for me, and a contraction hit and I grabbed her and rocked, and she intuitively rocked with me. She was right there, always available, never left my side.

I needed a hand pushed against my forehead in every contraction, and my doula and my husband shared this role. My doula also knew what I needed, which was silence. At times my husband trying to lighten the situation, would make a joke or make a comment to my doula, trying to engage her in conversation. She would smile at him and not reply, and seemed to know I needed silence and respect my labouring space.  She helped share the load with my husband, so that it was not all left to him to support me.

I was a vocal birther, and my doula reminded me to keep my voice low, so I could find my center. At times fear would hit me, or I would have a particularly hard contraction, and would raise my voice and lose it. My doula would talk loudly so that I could hear her, and say ‘low low low” and help me bring my voice down, to centre myself.

When I was pushing my child out, it was wild. When I actually pushed his head out, I didn’t know what had happened. I knew something had happened, but I was so deeply in labour land I didn’t quite know what happened. my doula said ‘It’s ok the head is out” and kept on saying this until I could hear her, and that was great to know, to hear, to be told what had happened’.

My doula was also invaluable after birth. Providing an understanding ear as I cried in the week after, coming to terms with the change of having a child and with my struggles. And in the difficulty I had in establishing breastfeeding, supporting me in not feeling bad when I chose to give my baby a bottle. I was beating myself up big time, and whilst my doula’s did not push me into it, she gave me the love and non judgemental compassion I needed, to be gentle on myself and to remind myself I was doing what I felt my baby needed.

Birth is womans business. Birth is incredibly primal, and something only another woman can understand. I think every woman should have a woman with her, to support her, encourage her, be ‘with her’. Whether you are birthing at home or in hospital, I think a doula is invaluable, one you have gotten to know and trust, and who knows what you want, and supports you in that."

Sue McLeod mother of Jack.