What is a Doula and what do they do?
After much searching the concept of a Doula appears to have originated from Africa, where female slaves served their mistresses through childbirth and for the weeks that followed. The actual word Doula, is the feminine version of the old Greek word “doulos” and again meant slave. The idea behind the word was that the mistress of the house would pick her favourite slave and allow her to assist and provide support during and for weeks after the birth. What is very obvious is that throughout history women have looked to other women to support them.
Every mother remembers the birth of her child. Years may pass, but her memory of birthing her baby remains strong. These memories should be ones of joy and unconditional love, unspoilt by recollections of trauma or helplessness.
A birth doula’s role is to support a woman or couple through pregnancy and birth. She will offer you practical and emotional support, empowering you to make your own decisions, respecting and supporting your choices. A doula will give the baby’s father space and courage to participate in the birth at a level at which he is comfortable. She is not there to replace a midwife, but rather to work positively alongside all medical professionals. One of the greatest advantages of having a birth doula is that you have the guarantee of continued support from the same individual throughout the birth of your baby. This provides enormous peace of mind, if you are considering a home birth and/or a water birth or if you have fears from previous births.
The role of a postnatal doula is to support a family for the first few weeks following the birth of their baby. Her role includes practical and emotional support for the family, including help with light household duties, such as laundry, cooking and school runs if needed. A postnatal doula will support you with breastfeeding and if necessary, she will be able to point you in the right direction to receive professional breastfeeding support. She will encourage you to rest and can look after your newborn, whilst you catch up on some sleep or take a shower. Having a postnatal doula gives you the chance to spend special time with your newborn and bond without interruptions or any stress. Above all, your postnatal doula will aim to leave you empowered, confident and rested.
Doulas, birth or postnatal are self-employed and their fees reflect the services they offer and the experience they have. Geographical location also influences the fee. For a standard birth package you can expect to pay between £200 to £800 and postnatal doulas usually charge an hourly rate of £10 to £20.
Most doulas are mothers themselves and have first-hand knowledge of what you need and know how to support you and your family through this period of transition and change.
By: Badrunnisa (Nisha) Patel
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Tel: 07841 703 978