• What does a doula do?

    I'm not sure that there is a simple answer to this but heres a jumble of ideas....

    Doulaing can be more about being then doing the support a family needs might be as simple as a hand to hold, a smile or a few kind words. However many doulas i meet and read about are doing alot, making sure Mum and Dad understand what birth might look, feel and sound like and that no birth is normal. To inform the family of the choices they have, to birth in hospital, at home, in a birth centre, in water, on a bed or on the floor. Also that they can choose who looks after them and choose which medical procedure to have during pregnancy and birth.

    Doulas help the family plan their preferences in birth and empower then through access to knowledge. A doula can get across the intensity and joy of early breastfeeding and if the family decides to formula feed help them make positive choices here too.

    Doulaing is about listening to families, truly trying to hear what they want. Its also about waiting, being on call for labour to start and being prepared to abandon that family dinner, sneak out of the kids play and drop everything to be with the birth family as they have called and it is time.

    Doulaing is holding that birth space, protecting those preference made by Mum and Dad and honouring their way of doing things. During a labour a doula might support Dad and the other kids, make tea, prepare the birth pool, massage an aching back, smile, dance with Mum, turn off the bright lights and turn on the music. After birth the doula will check all is well and that the baby is feeding and then exit from the birth bubble hopefully with joy in her heart at the arrival of a new soul( and go and get some sleep!)

    She will go back when needed to give support with feeding and talk through what happened in the labour. She will check that everything is going smoothly and signpost any extra support needed.

    If a doula works with the family postnatally she will be with that family for the first 6 - 12 weeks a few times a week doing a wide range of jobs. This might include holding the new born, playing with older kids, taking the dog for a walk, giving parents a rest, a chance to eat, a chance to go to the loo, helping prepare food, tidy up and giving feeding support.

    All of these things she does not for money or status or power but from love and to bear witness to the grace and intensity that is birth and early parenting.

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