How Can a Doula Support Us?
A doula is a constant source of support and information during your pregnancy, birth and beyond. A doula works only for you, tailoring their support around your specific needs. Every family, every birth, is unique – and a doula is there to help you navigate the path, whichever way it takes you.
Having a doula helps to prepare you for a positive birth experience, equipping you with the knowledge and skills to be an informed, empowered and active participant in your birth rather than “going with the flow” (see The Pitfalls of Going with the Flow).
Doulas are not just for mums, either! And they are certainly not there to “take the place” of the partner. In fact, a doula will often support partners just as much, if not more, than the birthing woman herself! It is my belief that this is a sacred experience that should be shared between two people who love each other, and the child they are bringing into the world, with their support team facilitating and assisting only when necessary. Sometimes, your partner may be a little uncertain of what to say, what to do, how to best support you – and this is where a doula can help, both preparing throughout the pregnancy and during the birth itself, so that it is a positive experience for both of you!
From August 2017, our own family is travelling Australia, which means I am able to offer Doula services to families all over the country (subject to dates and locations)! I also offer “Virtual” Doula services – phone and email support throughout your pregnancy, birth and postnatal period.
Some of the things that I am able to offer my doula clients are:
- An obligation (and cost) free “meet and greet” to discuss your birth plan and ask questions about having a doula to support you
- Antenatal meetings, based on your unique needs. Generally, this will include information and practical activities covering pain relief/comfort measures, birth options (including the benefits and risks of common interventions) from early labour to third stage, breastfeeding and parenting preparation, birth planning, planning for VBAC, debriefing previous birth experiences, preparing siblings for birth and communication and negotiation skills.
- Phone and Email Support
- Attendance at your Birth, from whenever you feel you need (generally this is from “active labour”) until 2-3 hours post-birth, once you have showered and dressed, and baby has been fed. For those planning hospital births, I am happy to attend you at home before transferring to hospital.
- Postnatal Visit, in the first two weeks, to discuss the birth and any questions you might have.
- Postnatal Doula Support, as an additional service in which I am able to support with settling, feeding and other baby care, as well as supporting the new mother/family by assisting with light household chores and allowing them to rest.
- Bereavement Services, for families experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, or who have babies in NICU.
How is a doula different to a midwife?
A doula is a non-medical birth support person. They do not provide any clinical services (such as Doppler checks, blood pressure, etc) or make any diagnoses (though they are often familiar with pregnancy-related conditions and will be able to refer you to an appropriate care provider). They are hired by you, for you – to give informational, emotional and physical support throughout the journey.
Do you attend births in any setting?
Absolutely! I have attended in births in numerous settings, including home, birth centres, public hospitals and private hospitals across the Toowoomba, Ipswich and Brisbane regions. I believe that all families are deserving of the support a doula can give, wherever they choose to birth.
What if I have a cesarean?
Having a cesarean, planned or unplanned, doesn’t mean a doula is unnecessary. A doula will still be able to support you during the pregnancy, and this includes preparing for the event of a cesarean birth and how to make that as positive and family-centred as possible. A doula will be there for you before and after the cesarean, to help you navigate not only the choices that you need to make, but the emotions surrounding them.
When do we call you for the birth?
Whenever you need me. I don’t go by numbers (how dilated you are, how long contractions are lasting) as much as I go by instinct and feelings. If you feel that you need extra support, and you are ready for me to join you, I will.
How long do you stay?
As long as it takes – there is no “one size fits all” with birth, and some will take longer than others. In the event of a very long birth, I may take breaks to eat and rest, so that I’m able to continue being the very best support I can be. I then stay until the mum has showered and dressed, and baby has had a feed and everyone is settled in.
What happens if you miss the birth?
This will be discussed in more detail in your free consultation, however the general idea is that if I miss a birth due to my own error (not answering phone, taking longer than agreed time to arrive etc) then a refund will be offered. In the case of a fast birth or something else out of my control, fees can be transferred to postnatal support or photography services.