Long ago, in just about every culture, women have always supported women during childbirth. And most women appreciate and value the experience of having childbirth assistant or most commonly known as doula. A doula is someone that is knowledgeable, experienced companion who stays with their pregnant client through labour, birth and weeks after birth. The support of you partner, family and friends continues, but today, lots of pregnant women are returning to the past and seeking out these specially trained women to add to their birth support teams.

Pregnant woman talking to Doula

What Is A Doula?

Doula (Doola to pronounce) is a word that has become related with a woman who provides non-medical support during labour and birth, and also the postpartum period. This is a Greek word that means ?woman who serves?. This person is also called ?A Trained Labour Support Specialist? and sometimes referred to as labour companion, labour support professional, labour support specialist, labour assistant, and birth assistant. This person will help a woman at home in the days and weeks after childbirth. Despite doulas being fairly unheard of in Australia, they have been seriously assisting pregnant women for a very long and are fast growing in popularity after much positive testimonials and the need for increased support.

What Does A Doula Do?

In most cases, doula and client relationships start a few months before the baby?s date of delivery. During the woman?s pregnancy, they establish a relationship that give the mother complete to ask questions about childbirth, express fears and concerns, and take an active role in creating a birth plan. They have knowledge in the medical aspect of labour and delivery that is why they can help pregnant women get a better understanding of procedures and complications that may arise in late pregnancy or during delivery. However, it is important to know that doulas do not provide any type of medical care.

This person can help during childbirth because a doula:

  • Understands that birth is an important and life changing experience to the parents-to-be.
  • Is educated in the physiology of a birthing woman.
  • Helps the couple in creating and carrying out their birth plan.
  • Stays with the labouring mother throughout the entire labour providing moral, emotion and physical support.
  • Facilitates communication between the mother along with her partner and the health care providers.
  • Explains medical procedures and provides information on interventions and pain medications.
  • Provides information in order for the mother to make informed decisions and choices.
  • Make themselves available to the mother by phone to answer questions or explain developments that may arise in pregnancy.
  • Uses soothing words, touch and encouragement.

What Are The Types Of Doulas?

Antepartum doulas ? This person provide help and support to the pregnant woman who has been put on bed rest or is experiencing a high risk pregnancy. They also give educational, physical, emotional and practical support in a situation that is often stressful, bewildering and emotionally draining.

Postpartum doulas ? This childbirth assistant is there to support you in your first weeks of being a mother. The role of the doula here is to provide information about breastfeeding and other caring procedures for your baby. A postpartum doula also gives informational, emotional, physical and practical support in a situation that is often stressful to you. They also provide physical support like cleaning, cooking meals and filling in when mom needs a rest.

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Doula?

  • Reduces the incidence of caesarean section
  • Less occurrence of post-partum depression
  • Reduces use of oxytocin
  • Reduces the use of pain medication
  • Reduces the amount of septic workups performed on newborns
  • Reduces the number of days newborns spent in NICU (Neonatal Infant Care Unit)
  • Reduces the length of labour
  • Reduces incidences of maternal fever before and after child birth
  • Resulted in higher rates of breastfeeding
  • Resulted in more positive maternal assessments of maternal confidence
  • Resulted in more positive maternal assessments of maternal and newborn health
  • Increases positive feelings about one?s childbirth
  • Continuous emotional and physical support for the family
  • Supports the father, which increases his confidence in his role
  • Knowledge and experience in the birthing process

How Much It Cost To Have A Doula Service?

Doula cost anywhere between $400 to $1500 to support a birth, depending on their experience, the amount of time they will spend with you before and after birth and other services they offer such as prenatal massage, aromatherapy or even birth photography. It is a good thing to choose a doula carefully. You can interview a few doulas and go with the doula you feel most comfortable with.

The Common Questions To Ask To Your Doula

When you are interviewing a potential doula, the following list of questions may be a useful reference. A personal rapport with your doula is important, since she will assist you during an emotionally and physically intense process.

  • Are you certified? By what organization? What kind of training have you had?
  • How long have you been working as a doula? How many births have you attended?
  • How many home births have you attended? Have you attended hospital births?
  • Tell me a little bit about the births you have attended.
  • What is your child birth philosophy? How do you support women and their partners throughout labour?
  • Do you work with one or more backup doulas (for times when you are not available)? May I meet them?
  • What is your fee? Is any part of your fee refundable if, for some unexpected reason, you do not attend the birth?
  • Can you provide references?

According to research, women who have a support of a birth doula have shorter labours, less possibility of a caesarean section and intervention during the delivery of their babies. Another study shows that a doula provides continuity of support through hospital shift changes, and those with a doula?s assistance report better bonding and breastfeeding experiences.

For more information on choosing a Doula in Australia see link

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