Giving birth can be an extremely emotional time that requires a lot of emotional support and love.
Some mothers may not have the strong support network that they need to get them comfortably through labour and delivery. This is where the work of a doula can play a massive role in a pregnant woman's childbirth experience.
If you're looking for information on doulas, read on to find out everything you need to know about the benefits and costs of hiring a doula, and how to find one, right here.
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What Is A Doula?
While doulas are fairly popular in the United States, they are pretty new in the UK so you might be wondering what is a doula?
A doula is someone who provides support and guidance to women during childbirth and after the baby is born.
While doulas may sound similar to midwives, they do not have any medical training, although they usually have some form of obstetric training. A midwife provides health advice during pregnancy, while a doula acts more as a coach and gives support during childbirth to mothers who need it.
Doulas are often used by women that may not have a strong support network to help them through childbirth. This can include single mothers, women whose families live far away, and women whose partners are unable to provide consistent support. A doula may also be helpful for some pregnant women who simply feel that they may need the extra level of support.
There are two types of doulas, a birth doula, and a postnatal doula. A birthing doula provides emotional support during labour and delivery, while a postnatal doula focuses on supporting the mother and newborn baby in the months after birth. One doula can cover both birth and postnatal support.
How Can A Doula Help You?
Most doulas are women who have given birth themselves, which means their own experiences help them to better care for and support their clients.
Doulas will see clients around two to three times before the woman gives birth which allows both the mother and the doula to see if they are the right fit for each other. The mother-to-be will be able to contact their doula to discuss any concerns they may have. As the woman gets closer to the birth date, at around the 38 week mark, the doula will be on call and immediately available when the woman goes into labour.
Whether the baby will be born at home, in the hospital, with a Cesarean section, or by water birth, the doula will work with the pregnant woman to suit their birth plan and offer emotional and practical support from there. A doula-assisted birth can help women get through delivery without an epidural or a Cesarean section and can relieve a lot of stress in the process.
Both postpartum and birth doulas work with midwives and doctors to support pregnant women with maternity care decisions. Rather than advising the client on medical decisions, they support them to make choices that work best for them and their families.
During labour, birth doulas help comfort the woman by offering emotional and practical support based on their needs. Their goal is to make the woman as comfortable as possible by giving suggestions on breathing, movement, positions, and relaxation techniques that help her feel reassured and supported. A doula can also help a birth partner feel more comfortable about supporting the pregnant woman through childbirth by offering tips.
After birth, the doula stays with the family until they are comfortable and settled. Birth doulas will visit their client at least once in their home to discuss the childbirth experience with the mother and provide support with adapting to their new life as a mother.
A postpartum doula will usually work with mothers in the first few months of the baby's life, but some also work with families who have older babies if they need support. The support doulas provide can make a world of difference for a new mother.
Finding A Doula In The UK
Doulas first started getting popular in the United Kingdom in the '90s and today there are over 1000 doulas working with pregnant women across the UK. The best way to find a doula for your pregnancy is to contact one through Doula UK.
You can find a professional, accredited doula through Doula UK, an organisation created to connect pregnant women with doulas to provide support to a family no matter their circumstance. Doula UK also allows you to put in preferences for your search so you can find a postnatal or birth doula that speaks your preferred language and lives near you, making the search process super simple.
The cost of a doula is usually anywhere between £250 to £2000 and doulas usually make around £250 to £500 per birth. The price varies depending on how long the doula is hired for and their level of experience. Birth doulas usually charge a lump sum while postnatal doulas charge an hourly rate. Keep in mind that doulas who are still being mentored usually charge less.
Make sure to consult your doctor or midwife before hiring a doula so the two can work together to help you through your pregnancy and delivery.
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