DOULA

Birth doula covering Sligo, Leitrim, parts of Donegal, Roscommon and Mayo

I'm a birth doula with Doulacare Ireland, Ireland's leading Doula Agency,

 

Me, I’ve had one homebirth, and one birth in hospital. One really long, one really short. Both challenging and amazing in their own ways. 

I think birth is the start of the greatest adventure.  For some it’s empowering and beautiful. For others its daunting and challenging. Sometimes it's all of those things at the same time. For all of us, it’s really hard work!

 

As mothers we go into it alone, us and our baby. But the circle we surround ourselves with can help us feel confident in our own strength and our decisions around birth and motherhood. 

As your doula, I'm there to form part of that circle. To provide the support you need to feel confident and calm around the pregnancy and birth.  Confidence to ask the questions you need to and to make decisions that feel right for you and your baby. Calm to manage the strong emotions and feelings of pregnancy and birth. 

Always surrounding you and your family with positive support in this very special time.

See www.doulacare.ie for more information

Common questions about doula support

What is a doula?

The word doula comes from the Greek word meaning “woman caregiver”. Put simply, a birth doula is a person (usually, but not always, a woman) who provides non-medical care to a woman in labour. A doula is trained to provide emotional support, suggest and demonstrate comfort measures including breathing techniques, massage, and positions to make labour more manageable.  Doulas may also help with information gathering during pregnancy. A doula can act as a sounding board for questions you might wish to ask your midwife or doctor. When labour begins, while a doula can't speak for the labouring woman or the couple, but they are able to remind them of the discussions during pregnancy so that they can make an informed decision on the day. 

Why might I want a doula?

A recent Cochrane (a gold standard for assessing evidence in medical research) review of doula support (which encompassed reviews of 26 studies involving over 15,000 women) found that some of the potential outcomes of continuous presence of a support person include shorter labour, reduced likelihood of interventions including instrumental delivery and caesarean birth, less need for pain analgesia and greater satisfaction with the birth experience.  

Women and their partners often report feeling a sense of comfort and reassurance from the doula’s presence.

Isn’t a doula only for homebirth?

Not at all. Doulas accompany women in various birth settings. Doulas have accompanied births in maternity units throughout Ireland.

Won’t the hospital staff be there to provide the support I need?

Depending on several factors, the staff providing your medical care during labour may not be able to provide continuous support (in the review above it was the continuous aspect of care that made a significant difference to outcomes). A midwife may be looking after multiple women in labour and or there may be shift changes to deal with. The hospital staff will have as their primary focus the health and medical care for the woman and baby and may not always be able to give the emotional support they would like to. A doula is 100% focused on providing this emotional support.

Crucially, a doula will come to your home in early labour and/or be available on the phone to provide support (as well as in the hospital). In your ante-natal classes, you will likely be given an indication by the hospital as to when you should come in (usually based on the pattern and length of contractions). The work of labour usually begins long before that, and it can be enormously helpful to have a doula at hand to support you during that period.

I’m worried a doula would “take over” from my partner and make them feel left out.

During the pregnancy, a doula can meet with you and your partner to discuss both of your expectations around the birth. This can be helpful to allow you and your partner to explore your feelings and support needs for the birth and ensure you are both ‘on the same page’ regarding birth preferences.

A doula  will help your partner to provide support at their own comfort level- the doula may, in advance, demonstrate comfort measures, talk about massage, positioning and other measures that neither of you may have experience of. The doula can also remind and demonstrate these in labour.

Having a doula can allow a nervous partner to relax a little, knowing they and their partner have an additional support person present. The doula can explain the process of labour and reassure the partner when they are concerned – it can be very distressing to see the person you love in pain and discomfort.

And in a long labour a doula can ensure the pregnant woman is never without the emotional support she needs, even if the partner needs a break.

I’m planning to have an epidural or caesarean birth. Why would I need a doula?

If you are planning on having an epidural,  you may wish to delay the epidural until you are in active labour. In that case a doula can still support you at home during early labour, providing reassurance and comfort measures. Your doula can also help facilitate position changes on the bed when you have your epidural to reduce the likelihood of having an instrumental birth. In the event your epidural doesn't work 100% your doula can help you stay focused and calm.

In the case of a planned caesarean birth, a doula can still help to provide support during pregnancy, helping you to prepare emotionally, assisting with formulating your caesarean birth plan and acting as a sounding board for questions you might like to discuss with your midwife or obstetrician. The doula may also be able stay with you and provide reassurance immediately after baby has been delivered, assisting with skin to skin and breastfeeding.

 

The doula may also provide important practical and emotional support for your partner.

Wouldn’t it be weird to have this complete stranger there when I’m giving birth?

The reality for most of us is that there will already be complete strangers there (the clinical team ). The doula will be someone you have chosen and with whom you have developed a relationship and trust with, in advance of labour.  They are trained to be sensitive to your needs, and to support your relationship with your partner. They will have familiarised themselves with your birth plan, and your needs and remind you gently of any divergences from that. They will reassure and explain and empower you both!

 

For more information see:

https://www.cochrane.org/CD003766/PREG_continuous-support-women-during-childbirth

https://www.doulacare.ie/birth-testimonials/

https://www.dona.org/

https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/lifestyle/features/and-doula-makes-four-a-look-at-the-growing-birthing-trend-923942.html

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