What is a Doula?
Put very simply, a doula is a professional birth partner!
Doulas are trained childbirth professionals who are non-medical and provide continuous emotional and practical support to parents, before, during and after childbirth.
As a doula, I will always be:
Providing emotional, physical and practical support during pregnancy, labour and in the initial postpartum period
Providing you with comfort measures to use during labour including breathing, relaxation, movement, positioning, massage
Signposting information on the maternity system or any queries that arise during your pregnancy and labour
Informing you on your birth choices and options so you can make the best decisions for you and your baby
Protecting your birthing environment
Supporting your partner, enabling them to participate more comfortably and confidently during labour
Why have a doula?
There are SO many proven researched benefits to having a doula (a birth partner who is experienced in childbirth, but who is not a family member or medical professional) support you during your birth experience.
Here are just some of the findings from the research:
Research shows that when women have continuous support from a doula, there is:
a reduction in caesarean birth (women with a doula are 39% less likely to have an unplanned C Section)
reduction in instrumental birth
reduced need for painkillers or epidural during birth (9% reduction in use of ANY pain relief)
reduced rate of induction of labour (31% less women using syntocinon)
reduced rate of induction
reduced rate of post-natal depression
an increased likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth (12% increase)
women with a doula found to have shorter labours (by 41 minutes)
increased parental satisfaction with the birth experience
increased rate of successfully establishing breastfeeding
The 2017 Cochrane Review found that:
"Continuous support in labour may improve a number of outcomes for both mother and baby, and no adverse outcomes have been identified. Continuous support from a person who is present solely to provide support, is not a member of the woman's own network, is experienced in providing labour support, and has at least a modest amount of training (such as a doula), appears beneficial"
- Cochrane Review 2017
The researchers at Evidence Based Birth have analysed the latest evidence on doulas. They conclude that:
"Of all the ways birth outcomes could be improved, continuous labor support seems like one of the most important and basic needs for birthing people. Providing labor support to birthing people is both risk-free and highly effective. Evidence shows that continuous support can decrease the risk of Cesarean, the use of medications for pain relief, and the risk of a low five minute Apgar score. Labor support also increases satisfaction and the chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth. Continuous support may also shorten labor and decrease the use of Pitocin. Although continuous support can also be offered by birth partners, midwives, nurses, or even some physicians, research has shown that with some outcomes, doulas have a stronger effect than other types of support persons. As such, doulas should be viewed by both parents and providers as a valuable, evidence-based member of the birth care team."
- Evidence Based Birth
"On questionnaires the day after delivery, 100 percent of couples with doula support rated their experience with the doula positively"
- McGrath, S K, Kennell, J A
What if my birth partner is unsure?
A doula’s role is very different from that of your birth partner, instantly dispelling the myth that doulas replace or push aside the partner. Birth partners come in many varieties - they may have little or no knowledge about birth, medical procedures, or what goes on in a hospital. Asking your partner to be your sole provider of emotional, practical and physical support during labour and birth is like asking them to be your tour guide in a country they have never been to before and where they don't speak the language.
As your doula, I will work alongside your birth partner, providing support for them too, helping them to understand what may be going on, and reassuring them along the way. As your doula, I will look after the practical side of things, allowing your partner to concentrate on just being there for you!
When it comes to birth, planning who is going to be in your team us key. A doula and a birth partner will give you all of the support, encouragement, strength, knowledge and love from all sides, helping you to achieve a positive birth experience.
We will meet either during your hypnobirthing course or at an introductory meeting before you commit, at which point we can happily discuss questions such as these and ensure we are all very comfortable with the different roles we will play.
What does the service include?
Before looking into having a doula, you may think you are just hiring someone to be at your birth and support you "on the day", as such.
In fact, the service and support you will receive from your doula extends far beyond the day of your baby's arrival.
Here a breakdown of what my doula service includes:
From the time you book me as your doula, you will receive my continuous support via phone and email. You can contact me with any questions or concerns from the time of booking, until your baby is 6 weeks old.
You will receive a full 8 hour hypnobirthing course with me - you can chose whether to attend a group course or have a private course
You will receive additional private antenatal preparation meetings (1 or 2 depending on needs), where we will run through the logistics for your labour, your birth preferences, comfort measures and relaxation tools we will use on the day.
You will be able to attend my Hypnobirthing Refresher and Pregnancy Relaxation Workshop (when you are 36+ weeks pregnant)
I will help you with planning and writing your birth preferences (visual birth plan session)
You will have access to all my birth related books and digital resources
I will be on call for you, 24/7, from week 38 until week 42.
When you are in labour, you will let me know and I will come to your home when you are ready. I will stay with you when are in labour, helping you to feel calm and comfortable. I will come with various supplies to help your labour progress efficiently. I will set up the space for you, provide you with comfort measures, helpful reminders - however more than anything, I will be there for you physically and emotionally.
I will remain with you throughout your labour, birth and during the initial bonding with baby. If you transfer from home to hospital or within the hospital I will do my very best to stay with you at all timesI will work with your care providers and birth partner so that we are one teamI will help you to feel comfortable, safe and relaxed
I can support you with practical comfort measures, massage, breathing and effective calming mindset techniques
After your baby has been born, my support and care continues! I will stay with you after your baby has been born during the initial bonding period and until you feel ready for me to leave
I will provide you with guidance and support with baby’s initial feeding
Once you are home, you will receive 1 x 2 hour postnatal visit (usually within 10 days of the birth), where I can help you with feeding, bonding, preparing some meals for you and signposting information if needed.
You will have continuous phone and email support until 6 weeks post birth
As a birth doula client, you will also have preferential access to my postnatal doula services
Please note that doulas do not give medical advice nor undertake examinations or perform any other clinical task. I cannot make decisions for you, however I can signpost information to you and explain your options. I can only act as a spokesperson for you in the absence of your partner if this has been clearly stated in your birth plan.
Hypnobirthing + Doula Package
1 x full 8 hour hypnobirthing course, 2 x 90 minute antenatal preparation meetings, 24/7 on-call period from week 38-42 of your pregnancy, continuous support in pregnancy, labour and birth, birth attendance, 1 x 2 hour postnatal visit, continuous phone and email support postnatally until baby is 6 weeks old
Birth Doula Package
This is the package for you if you have already taken the Birth Bubble hypnobirthing course and would like my support as your doula. This package includes; 1 or 2 x antenatal preparation meetings, 24/7 on-call period from week 38-42 of your pregnancy, continuous support in pregnancy, labour and birth, birth attendance, 1 x 2 hour postnatal visit, continuous phone and email support postnatally until baby is 6 weeks old
Please contact Elise for further details on either package.
Attendance to antenatal appointments and extra preparations meetings can be added to packages if required
I work with a small collective of doulas so there will always be a back-up in place in case of an emergency.
If you like the sound of the above packages, please contact me to arrange an initial, no obligation meeting, where we can have a chat in person about the services and I can answer any questions.
If you are happy to proceed, you will then receive a contract and we will book in your hypnobirthing course &/or antenatal preparation sessions.
If you would like to receive details about my postnatal doula services, please get in touch
I look forward to hearing from you!
My labour started earlier than we had expected and meant Elise received a last-minute call from us asking if she was possibly free to meet us at hospital asap. She was instantly calming, helped us set up the room, brought Doula 'tricks' for further relaxation and stayed with us throughout the process. But it wasn't really the 'tricks' that helped - it was Elise's positive and intelligent nature. She was made to Doula! She understood where my body was in the birth process, asked sensible questions where appropriate to the medical team, and was there emotionally and physically for us both throughout the arrival of our daughter.