This article is re-posted from Bloom Your Birth website. Check out the original publication here.
A little bit of history
The notion of having a supportive companion providing to a birthing woman is as old as the prehistoric times, evidenced by some archaeological findings such as statues and stone carvings from all around the world.
The term Doula would have derived from modern Greek meaning "servant-woman", or ‘female slave’ from Ancient Greek during Aristotle's time. Not a pretty one though, so let’s stick with the ‘modern Greek version’, sounds kind of better to the ear.
That being said, women have always birthed among and with each others. A labouring women would have never been left alone, being always surrounded by her mother, grandmother, sisters and other females from the neighbourhood etc.
What is a modern Doula?
A Doula is this person close to your heart who's here to provide continuous physical support, and emotional support throughout your pregnancy, labour, birth and during the post-partum. She is there to advocate for you, respect and support you with and into your birthing choices and beliefs to enhance your overall birthing experience. She is and stay by your side and ensure you feel safe, respected, understood, listened to, and comfortable no matter which path your birth may take.
She becomes part of your birthing team and work alongside you and birth partner(s) as well as your health provider (midwives and/or Obstetrician)
Since they are many Doulas offering their services in town, it is down to the future mother and her birth partner(s) to interview and choose someone based on their connection and ‘gut feeling’, intimate conviction that they found the right person to have by their side.
Why you may need a Doula?
I, myself, regrettably didn't find the right Doula to be by my side for my pregnancies and births and profoundly missed this feminine and vibrant energy. Up to this day, I strongly believe a Doula could have brought this tiny little plus I needed despite having had very satisfying births.
Nevertheless, I have decided to also become a Doula myself to passionately and genuinely provide support, love and strength to women the way I would have loved a Doula to support me.
But, you may say to yourself: OK, I’ve got a great birth team already, is it necessary to have a Doula?
In fact, you may have a great doctor, heard the midwives will be great in the hospital and you also probably got an amazing husband. You’re planning to even have your sister(s) and mum, your pets by your side and all while you’re labouring at home. So here you are again wondering why would you need to use the help of an ‘extra’ person in such an intimate moment?
Well, the answer is a VERY personal one. The choice to have a Doula is before all a strong desire to connect with and rely on a birth professional on a more personal level. Doulas are usually hired by women aiming for a natural non-medicated birth experience. But not always. In addition to provide emotional support, your Doula has followed a proper training and will be able to provide you with great physical support by using some pain/discomfort management techniques and tools needed during contractions and all stages of labour.
Having a Doula joining your family into this precious time of your life can also ease the pressure off your ‘official’ birth partner’s shoulders to allow you and husband to fully relax and embrace the birthing experience not to have to worry about timing your contractions, surges or worrying on when to leave home. Taking rest, eat and drink, keep in touch with loved ones or simply breathing it out for a bit if things gets overwhelming are all of the things your birth partner could do while your Doula remain by your side.
As a matter of facts studies have shown how important and impactful the presence and support from a Doula is to many women.
Having a Doula has indeed been associated with significant improvement for both birthing women and their babies. With shorter delivery, fewer c-sections and complications, reduction of the use of medications and fetal instruments, strong positive psychological benefits and overall more satisfying birth experiences while associated with a smooth and successful start of breastfeeding.
What could a Doula do:
- Feed you during labour
- Reminds you to use the bathroom regularly
- Help you to stay active if you wish to
- Prepare a relaxing environment
- Play music, sing, even play an instrument
- Use of Hypnobirthing techniques
- Support you physically and emotionally during and between contractions/surges
- Guide you when to head off to the hospital
- Be your advocate to ensure your birth wishes are respected as best as possible
- Guide/coach you in active labour and birth with your breathing
Be a backup in case if your birth partner(s) encounter any kind of issues (fatigue, illness, fainting, feeling overwhelmed)
What could a Doula use during Labour:
- Rebozo (Mexican scarf)
- Tens Machine
- Music, dance
- And more!
The feminine energy and connection is sacred and have and will always be welcomed into the birth room to support mothers but also enhance their transition into motherhood and beyond.
About the Author:
Anne, Bloom Your Birth founder, is a happy mother of 3 children and a passionate advocate of hypnobirthing and decided to share it with all women willing to take control over their pregnancy and birth. This is when she founded Bloom your Birth. To educate, enrich, and empower future parents. Check our partners page for more