A Doula \DOO-luh\ is someone (usually a woman) who offers emotional, practical and informational support to a woman, or couple, before, during and after childbirth. Discover more about Doulas and the vital role they play below.
A Birth Doula is a valuable one-to-one support during the antenatal period and throughout the birth itself, enabling parents to make informed choices, signposting research-based information and providing a continuity of care.
- She will provide a number of sessions antenatally to prepare for the birth and discuss expectations, fears and options.
- She will go on-call from an agreed date (often 38 weeks) and will be present during the birth, providing whatever support the family needs, from practicalities to advocacy.
- She will be well-equipped to provide comfort measures such as basic massage, suggest optimal birth positions, teach breathing techniques, encourage visualisations, offer food and drinks, warm compresses and cool flannels.
- She will enable the woman’s partner to be the best support they can be.
After the birth the doula will visit the couple once or twice to debrief the birth and offer any further signposting/support.
A Postnatal Doula is able to provide the support that women used to expect of their extended families and community in times gone by.
- She can raise self confidence in the new mother as she learns how to respond to her baby/babies’ needs, helping her to recover from the birth and find her feet.
- She may support the family practically with some domestic help such as cooking, running errands and general tidying.
- She might well be able to offer feeding support as well as many other sources of parenting information.
Ultimately, she is there to support the transition into parenting and the emotional challenges ahead. A doula believes in “mothering the mother”, enabling a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered time that she can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new parent. This type of support also helps the whole family to relax, adapt to and enjoy the experience. A postnatal doula will usually charge by the hour and may come in daily, or every few days, as the parent requires.
All doulas listed on the Nurturing Birth Directory have completed a Doula Preparation Course.
All doulas are expected to keep their knowledge up-to-date and attend study days/courses/workshops/conferences annually. Doulas generally have a close-knit support network and will be able to provide a back-up to cover dates when they are unavailable. The fee a doula charges will depend on her experience, mentored/recognised status and additional skills. This can be as low as £200 and up to £2000, depending on region and experience.
It is recommended that you meet several doulas before deciding which is the best person to support you. The right doula is a very personal choice and should be someone you feel entirely comfortable sharing personal moments with.