What is a Doula?


What first made you become a Doula and how long have you been doing it for?

During my pregnancy I suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (severe sickness), which was really debilitating and depressing, coupled next with the birth of my son being extremely traumatic. The whole experience had a profound impact on my life and was certainly an education! I learnt that if I had been more self-empowered and more knowledgeable, many things could have been different, and I would not have felt so confused and let down by the care I had received and the decisions that were made about my care. This impacted the early postnatal period for me and my son so, although my experience was negative, I was fortunate enough to have the care of my husband and family. All the while, in the back of my mind, I would think what would I have done had I not had this level of support; what do women do who don't? Once I had healed and worked on myself, this became the inspiration for my work with pregnancy, birth and beyond supporting women, babies and fathers.


I developed my Pregnancy / Postnatal Massage practice in 2007 and named it Mother & Bump. I then organically moved into working as a Doula in 2009, after often being asked by clients to help keep them calm for early labour so they did not arrive at the hospital too soon. I officially trained with Nurturing Birth and then began the recognition process with Doula UK
I love my work at Mother & Bump. I love the variety that I can offer my clients many different things; it also keeps my work fresh and interesting and is my passion. My pregnancy based work naturally led me into working with babies, teaching baby massage to parents and carer’s in a one-to-one setting or in groups, working with parents supporting as a Postnatal Doula.


Can you explain the role of a Doula? Are you there only for the birth?

A Birth Doula is a trained Birthing and Postnatal Companion that provides the Mother and partner practical and emotional support in the final weeks of pregnancy, during labour and birth and in the early postnatal period.
We support mamas to be to make informed choices about things such as where they wish to have their baby, such as a birthing centre, at home or in a hospital, their birth preferences and to help work out any concerns that might arise antenatally. We are then on call for each mother normally from the 38 weeks of pregnancy until 42 weeks sometimes longer. We are continuity for the mother, so as soon as the labour begins and the mother wishes for the Doula to be by her side, she will remain a continuous support until her baby arrives earth-side.
A Birth Doula will visit the mother normally a couple of days after birth to check that things are going well and if there are any issues, the Doula can sign post the mother to the appropriate resources. It is also an important time for the mother as she can ask questions or go back over her birth story.
I also work as a Postnatal Doula. Here, I work with the mother hours, days or even months after the birth of their little one.
Postnatal Doula support is also about emotional, practical and informational support. The tasks I carry out vary from family to family, from helping around the house, looking after baby while mum and partner nap, helping with older siblings, making meals or light housekeeping.  My role is to help so that the family relax and have a positive experience of adjusting to their new life with their baby.
I am sometimes booked to be both Birth and Postnatal Doula or either role.


It must be such an emotional job, what do you enjoy the most about it?

I am a witness to miracles! Watching the births of babies, interacting with mothers and fathers, supporting families and knowing that your presence made a difference. Helping mothers grow in confidence to birth their babies, as well as growing into their roles as a mother.  I love supporting choice and treating my clients as individuals with brains. I could go on and on. All of the above really fills my cup.


Many people have a real fear about giving birth, what advice would you give to them?

Advice is a red flag in the Doula community and this is something that we strongly do not do! We do however offer unbiased information, so that parents get to make informed choices about what feels individually right for them. We can however, sign post parents to the appropriate experts.

As a Doula we have to always look at the individual mama to be, she may carry fear because she has grown up hearing negative birth stories and this is where this fear has come from. It may be a second time mum that had a horrendous first birth, so she may need to prepare for her birth firstly by debriefing with an expert. It is really important to always look at each mama to be as a individual. The information I would provide for my client would be different types of Antenatal education programmes. This could be anything from the NHS antenatal session if the trust in my clients area runs them to a privately run Hypnobirthing Antenatal Programme; again my role is to offer the information and for my client and partner to work out what is best for them.



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