Being a birth doula is very important to me – it is such a privilege to be able to provide ongoing support for a labouring woman and her partner often from those early milder contractions, through to holding their baby in their arms.
It could be for a couple of hours, it could be for a couple of days.
As a doula, I am a trained birth professional, I am there to provide ongoing support and reassurance for a labouring woman and her partner to help them feel safe, comfortable and calm. I absolutely do not replace the need for a medically trained midwife and I do not tell anyone what to do. At births, I have worked alongside some wonderful midwives some of which have been able to provide one-to-one care.
So why have I been needed?
I am often called before my client needs a midwife, when she needs reassurance and support in early labour with those milder contractions, before she is ready to call out the midwife or go to hospital. I am there so she doesn’t feel alone or scared as the contractions intensify and she gets used to the new sensations in her body.
I am a consistent presence as my client gets used to her midwife or midwives if they need to change over.
My client knows me so she trusts me – eye contact can head off panic and help a labouring woman stay calm.
I can be firm (but gentle) with my client and to help her stay calm and focused when she needs to be – as I am not emotionally involved, my clients tend to respond better to me than if their partner was to say it.
I can do practical things such as making sure drinks and the gas & air are available, I have taken labouring women to the loo, I have held bed pans in place, I have held fetal monitors in place, I have told partners to take a break if they look overwhelmed or there is some tension.
I provide physical support to get my client into more comfortable and beneficial positions, which is important when she is tired.
As a trained birth professional, I know what birth and labouring women look like, I know what is normal and what isn’t, I know when to be concerned and reassuring.
I am completely focused on my client – on keeping her safe, calm and capable. On helping her achieve a positive experience, even if it feels tough and challenging. I am there to remind her to breathe, to keep going, to relax her shoulders, to trust her instincts, to ask her what she wants to do, what feels right for her.
I am also there for birth partners – to make sure they are also informed, reassured and support. If birth partners are calm, their partner who is in labour will also be calmer. Having a doula can ease the pressure on them.
Attending a birth is a privilege and one of the most amazing experiences, I don’t think I will ever tire of seeing a woman bring her baby into the world. Birth is raw, it can be challenging, it can be tough going at times but women are amazing.
Birth is about beauty, strength, instincts and love. It’s about going with the flow, keeping going if it is tough and making the right decisions for you and your baby. Birth can be unpredictable so ongoing support can be vital to keep you calm so you can do what feels right and make decisions if they are needed.
Booking a birth doula could make a huge difference to you.