What Does a Doula Do?

Doulas are awesome and amazing magical women scattered throughout the world quietly going about the business of supporting women to plan and experience a positive birth.

A common misconception is that doulas only attend home-births but as doulas are concerned with empowering women they usually attend all types of birth, home-birth, hospital birth, elective c-section and any others.

There are different types of doula roles, this post is about birth doulas.

Doula Profile

How do I hire a doula?

If you are in the U.K. you can go to Doula U.K. and search Doula profiles to find one that is in or willing to travel to your location. Lots of doulas are willing to travel. You can view doula profiles and see if there is anyone in particular you think you would get along with before making initial enquiries.

Get asking around, sometimes word of mouth recommendations come from where you least expect them.

What Does a Doula do Practically?

  • Ante natal support & information.
  • Opens space for any questions birth partners may have in confidence.
  • Provides time to just talk/think about baby as a family (especially useful if 2nd or more baby)
  • Be on call (usually) 2 weeks before & after due date.
  • Attend in birth however you need. Can make drinks, set birth space, words of affirmation, support birth partner, massage.
  • More likely to be aware of your birth plan & wishes and gently encourage everyone to follow it.
  • Post natal visit. Debrief about birth.
  • Post natal care visits to help with caring for baby if pre-arranged.

How Much Does it Cost?

On average from £400+ can expect up to £1,000. Depends on location, (London prices likely to be higher for example) services offered, (a doula may include things like book buying or mileage in their costs) and the individual. Being a doula is a vocation but for the majority, it is also their business and you can expect to find a wide variation in how people price the skills and support they offer.

One thing is for certain though, you may expect them to be clear about their cost from the outset so you are able to make a good decision. Some doulas are happy to split the cost into payments over the pregnancy some prefer upfront payment, as long as it is clear. Be sure to check what you are agreeing to before signing the contract between you and your doula and that you are happy with what is being agreed upon regarding services and pricing, and when payment is due.

How Will I Know Which Doula to Choose?

Meet a couple and then decide taking all factors into account. All good doulas would expect you to do this to see who you connect with and will be used to inital meetings with prospective clients. They are in it to support birth not to make excess cash so want you to be comfortable with them.

Jot down some ideas before your first meeting of what you think would be some of the most important things to happen at your birth. Would you like a calm and peaceful atmosphere, where would you like to give birth, what kind of things may help to make you feel safe and in control. A good ice breaker is to talk about why you sought a doula.

What a Doula Isn’t.

A medical professional. A doula is there in a supportive capacity. Even if they happen to have a medical background, the support of a doula cannot replace the advice and expertise of a qualified midwife.

Infallible! Most doulas will stay with you throughout your labour and birth but doulas also have their own families and commitments. Check your doula has a contingency plan in place should she not be able to attend you due to emergency or illness. A lot of doulas on the doula UK website know each other locally and will ‘back-up’ for one another in this (uncommon) instance.

I would really recommend seeking out a doula to support you in birth, whatever type of birth you would like to plan for yourself. Before the birth the cost of a doula seems expensive, after the birth it doesn’t seem anywhere near enough.

Advertisements

A Community of Women

Seeking support as a new mum.

Time and time again this last week the word ‘community’ has popped up in my daily life.

For instance, the Vegan Supper Club I went to was held in a community building; an old building that would have been knocked down or left derelict had someone not decided to put the time in and make it a community cafe. The school we visited this week to have a look at for Beg is a community school which means it is open to various clubs like football and Tae Kwon Do after school hours – I didn’t even know there were such things as community schools. This word keeps cropping up and it got me thinking about the community of women I became a part of when I became a mum.

mountain goat
Me trying to work out my mum.

My relationship with my own mum has always been ‘unique’. Have you ever seen goats on the side of a mountain? They scale sheer rock faces – with hooves not claws- and make it look easy. It seems if they stopped to think about it they would probably fall off. That is just the conditions they are used to and that is kind of the best way I can concisely explain my relationship with my mum. I try to honour her especially for Beg’s sake. Point being I don’t have the luxury of the close knit support that a lot of my friends seem to have with their mum’s. Now before you get the violins out, it’s really fine, remember the goats? This is my normal. BUT it came to be that I had to seek out my own forms of female peer support which is why this post is actually going to be very positive.

When my girl was born 6yrs ago I went to approximately 102 baby groups. Happy hands & twinkly toes, tots play, baby massage, ti-a-fi (that’s a welsh language baby group called you and me *I think*) my local breastfeeding support group (where I did the breastfeeding peer support course) and my local La Leche League group to name a few off the top of my head. Beg had a very busy social schedule. But I didn’t get it. I would go to these groups but not make an effort with any of the other mums. I told myself I was there for Beg’s development and socialisation and the rest of it didn’t matter. I met a few other mums through these groups that I am still friends with now (yay for mummy friends) but it was more through their effort than mine (thank you!).

When my baby boy came along, I knew things were going to be different. In hindsight I realised I got so much out of all those little groups, most of them entirely run by volunteers, that I was excited to join them again this time around. I didn’t sign up for ante-natal classes with Beb’s pregnancy so instead I got in touch with other friends who were pregnant too. That was great because we had a right old moan about our differing pregnancy ailments! Not only that, I hired a doula who was a great source of support for me throughout my pregnancy and during Beb’s traumatic birth. My doula invited me to the home-birth meet she facilitates where I met other mums who were planning a home-birth and through that I also met a lady who hires slings and I hired one which helped no end with Beb’s silent reflux. My doula also helped me tap into my ready and waiting support network-my friends- by organising a Blessingway. The work of a doula is often referred to as ‘mothering the mother’ which is exactly what I needed.

20160609_115829-1.jpg

Now Beb is here and at home I am still consciously seeking out woman to woman support. I realise the importance of hearing other mums’ experiences and being able to share mine if I want to. The La Leche League is my top favourite group for this. I am really fortunate that my local LLL group has been run by the same leaders for years so when I went back recently, they remembered me. The leaders happen to be very well regarded locally having each done lots of training, however, the emphasis is that the group is ‘mother to mother support’ and the leaders are there as mums to support other mums. I love that we’re all there to help each other brand new or 5 kids in; I love the whole ethos of mums helping other mums. There’s definitely a power in it when women support each other so open heartedly.

You may assume that actively seeking out support means I have been buzzing about meeting lots of people at different groups, but actually I have been a lot more selective this time round. I know which groups are likely to be most beneficial to me personally and so have prioritised getting to those ones over other things. For me this has included prayer meet at church (even though I’ve only made it once so far). Not just as some consumer type person who turns up gets what they need and leaves but also contributing my experiences and a listening ear to other mums there too. Some days I might be having a difficult day and don’t have much to say, some times I might not make it because I didn’t make it out of the house, but that’s OK too.

I have also accepted (and asked for) help a lot more this time from hubby’s family, which they are happy to give 🙂 When I had a tummy bug, my mother in law did 3 or 4 school runs that week. When I couldn’t face Beb’s first injections my sister in law came with me and took him in for me.

There is support out there but you have to be brave and go and actively seek it! Most groups have facebook pages now so you could introduce yourself on there first. I sent one message that said “I’m visiting your group on my own for the first time today please do say hello!” It feels funny to do but we’ve all been there and most of us know what it’s like to be a bit nervous going to a group for the first time.

I find these days I’m much more social and will chat to other mums wherever I am. I feel like we all have our different challenges and parenting styles but essentially we’re in the same kind of life stage. I might not know your story and you might not know mine but a smile to say we’re doing it, we’re here in Tesco, doing the stuff that needs doing, can make all the difference in a day.

20160609_120037-1.jpg

Wondering about hiring a Doula? Check out Doula UK

Breastfeeding? Any age…check out La Leche League to find your local group.

Admissions Of A Working Mother

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday