Doula (pronounced 'doo-la') is a Greek word meaning 'woman servant or caregiver'. Through pregnancy, birth and postpartum, a doula provides emotional and physical support to women, partners and families. To be a doula is to 'mother the mother', supporting the family with education about the physiology of labour and comfort measures she may like to draw from, debriefing any previous births, providing tailored support and advice and helping them create a birth plan or preference list if they so desire. She will attend their birth from home to hospital- holding a calm, joyful and confident space while providing massage, heat packs, hip squeezes and uplifting words. She believes in the mother's ability to give birth in perfect time, in her perfect way and supports her to make conscious, informed decisions to ensure that she feels satisfied and empowered along the way.
Doulas are growing in popularity fast here in Australia, as a result of positive word of mouth referrals and the need for increased support. As our hospitals become more and more stretched for staff and resources, families are realizing what a wonderful asset a doula can be for their support team. Midwives and obstetricians take care of the clinical side of things, while a doula provides continuous support and reassurance. The way a woman is treated during her birth stays with her for the rest of her life. The proven benefits of having continuous support during birth from a person outside the mother's family or social circle is associated with reduced mortality rates, improved overall health of the mother and the baby, shorter labor time and a lower need for medical intervention or pain relief. In addition, a doula's support provides a solid foundation for their new lives going forward, improving the entire family's mental, emotional and physical health.
In addition to pregnancy and birth support, a doula may also offer in home postpartum support visits. During these visits she will check in on the mother's emotional and physical well being, offer feeding and settling advice if needed, debrief the birth with her, look after her baby or older children for her while she sleeps, showers, bathes or enjoy a home massage and perform light housework duties. If desired, a postpartum doula may also source ingredients and cook meals for the mother that are specifically designed to promote healing after birth and increase breast milk supply. This enables the mother to rest, sleep, feed and enjoy her baby. She may like to follow the principles of the '40 days of rest' observed by women in traditional cultures in order to recover well and replenish her energy after pregnancy and birth.
Here in Canberra you can learn more about us and find a student or graduate doula to support your family on the links below. We are a large, growing community offering a wide range of additional services and we wholeheartedly encourage you to connect with a few of us in order to find the perfect doula for you!
Author- Kellie Hermes, Adorabirth
Learn more about Kellie's unique services here: http://kelliehermes.wixsite.com/adorabirth