Do I need a doula?
My name is Lauren Mishcon, I live in north London with my husband, three young sons and an energetic springer spaniel. I’m passionate about birth and for seven years now I’ve worked as a birth doula with expectant couples, helping women achieve their own positive experience of birth.
A doula – a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant or caregiver’ – gives emotional and practical support to a woman or couple before, during and after childbirth.
We believe in “mothering the mother” and that the best way to achieve a positive birth is for a woman to feel safe, secure and informed.
Why use a doula?
As childbirth has moved from home to hospital, a vital element of care has been lost. Gone are the days when a woman would have continuous support from one carer throughout her labour. Labour wards – especially in London – are extremely busy and women are often simply left alone for much of the time. Midwives change shift and it’s likely several caregivers that you’ve never met will attend to you. Few partners have the stamina or the experience to be able to offer the help that’s required – and they need supporting too. A doula comes to the birth knowing you and your birth preferences. She provides familiar and continuous support.
How a doula helps
The services offered will vary greatly according to the needs of the parents-to-be. Before childbirth the doula will usually meet with the mother, or couple, at least twice to talk through the birth including fears and expectations. She will provide an unbiased viewpoint to help parents make informed decisions about type of birth they desire.
The doula will be on-call from the 38th week of pregnancy until the baby arrives. During labour the doula is a calm and constant presence. She’s on hand to offer comfort and suggestions on coping mechanisms such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning.
The doula’s most important role is to provide reassurance, continuous support and nurturing – something that is proven to have dramatic results on the outcome of the birth, and something the NHS often can’t provide.
After childbirth the doula may follow up with a couple of postnatal visits to help the new mum settle at home with her baby. Mothers may also opt to employ a postnatal doula – their job is to provide practical and emotional support on infant feeding, baby and sibling care and may also help with domestic tasks.
Midwives and doulas: what’s the difference?
Doulas don’t perform a medical service and aren’t employed by a hospital or the NHS Trust. Their concern is purely for the wellbeing of the mother.
Why do I need a doula if I have a partner?
Doulas don’t replace dads – we aren’t the ones telling mum how much we love her, that’s their job. We are trained to know when to be hands-on and when to step back and give the couple space to be together. This includes guiding the father on how to emotionally and physically support the mother. Or just being an extra pairs of hands to make a cup of tea, carry bags or pay the parking meter. Labour can be long and dads need breaks too. A doula provides vital continuous care.
For more information please visit my website: www.fromtummytomummy.co.uk Or call me on 07714 126 269
You can also find a doula through Doula UK (www.doula.org.uk).