MWhat is a doula?A doula is a person, usually another woman, who supports a woman during birth or post-birth. She can be any age and currently British Doulas has women in their early twenties up to those in their 60's and 70's. However, she must be physically fit, kind, caring, supportive and wise.
Where does the word 'doula' come from?
The word 'doula' means 'handmaiden' or 'servant' in Ancient Greek. The term was coined in the US by Dana Raphael, a medical anthropologist, in her book 'The Tender Gift', which promotes the benefits of women teaching other women about mothering.
Are doulas of any practical benefit in the birthing room or do they just make the mother feel happier?
A recent report in the United States (Mothering the Mother by Kennel, Klaus and Kennel) showed that caesarean births could be cut by half, labour could be reduced by 25 per cent, the odds of a forceps delivery reduced by 40 per cent if more women have the support of a doula during labour.
What is the difference between a doula and a maternity nurse?
Maternity nurses are baby-centred while doulas are mother and family-centred. A maternity nurse will give you 24-hour care for six days a week and will get up at night with the baby and set a routine for him or her. A doula will help the mother to do the mothering. She will give advice and help with breastfeeding, help calm her fears, encourage her and help with housework , and encourage the mother to care for herself and the baby. (N.B. if you would like to hire a maternity nurse ring our sister company, Top Notch Nannies, on 020 7937 7762 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
What is the difference between a doula and a midwife or a health visitor?
Doulas are not medical professionals (although some may have been nurses or midwives in the past) they are usually mothers themselves. They do not offer medical diagnosis, treatment or advice but, just as importantly, they can offer reassurance when parents are worrying needlessly about a baby that would not settle or sleep or if the mother is anxious. Doulas are not part of a medical team, but if they are supporting a woman in labour, in the hospital or in the home, they can help to strengthen the woman and act as her advocate and constant companion. However, they cannot challenge medical or midwifery advice given to the woman or persuade her against a course of action or treatment suggested by the medical team. Doulas also act as a 'recorder' of events for the mother. Most women forget what happened during the birth so if, later on, they want to know about it, the doula will be able to tell them in a way that does not traumatise them. The skill of the doula is to keep the mother's outlook balanced and positive.
What training do doulas get?
All doulas from British Doulas undergo a special three-day training course run by the agency . The sessions are taught by midwifery trainers, specialists in family issues, and an experienced working doula. The training also includes follow-up workshops and training days weeks, months and even years after the original course.
Who can become a doula?
Ideally, we would like our prospective doulas to be mature women who have had children themselves. They should be interested in supporting women and their families around childbirth and especially in the immediate postnatal period. They should be able to offer women and their families skilled support, be sympathetic and good listeners. They should understand the issues that families face after the birth of a new baby and be able to help women resolve some of these issues such as support for breastfeeding and enabling women to recover physically from the birth. Doulas need to be able to do this without being intrusive, prescriptive or promoting dependence. In short, a doula is someone who is kind, caring and non-intrusive but who is also strong, wise and supportive.
Who can benefit from having a doula?
Doulas are ideal as support for mothers who want to look after their babies themselves and will welcome the help and advice traditionally offered by their own mothers or experienced sisters in the days when extended families lived close enough to be constantly on hand.
What hours does a doula work?
Post-birth doulas can work full-time or part-time, depending on the mother's needs. Some mothers find that they only need help for a couple of weeks, while others value their doula so highly they want her with them for months.
How much do doulas cost?
Doulas working in the UK typically earn around £12-18 an hour. They do not work for fewer than 4 hours a day. A birth doula usually charges a rate ranging from £250-600 per birth depending on the area and the doula's level of expertise (plus our agency fee)
How can I find out more about doulas?
You can contact Jean on 020 7937 7762 or at email@example.com. You can also read books on the subject such as 'Mothering the Mother' by Kennel, Klaus and Kennel (available through online bookshops or by post from British Doulas).