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Pregnancy 101: Doulas

16 July 2014

At first glance you could say that a Doula is simply a birth attendant, but any doula will tell you that there is a lot more to it than that.

A doula is a labour coach who may help women in the months of their pregnancy, during labour and in the weeks that follow. The term doula comes from the Ancient Greek term that means female servant, and this is essentially the role a doula plays to her clients. The relationship between a doula and her client is often very close and is generally fostered in the months leading up to the birthing experience, and may be maintained for years after.

The doula aims to make her pregnant client feel as comfortable and calm as possible during both pregnancy and labour, and may also be a constant source of emotional and physical support in the postpartum period. Many doulas aim to make their client feel empowered about their pending labour, rather than viewing this event with fear or trepidation, and many doulas will offer comprehensive support to their client during the postpartum period, which for many new mums can be so stressful.

Women, who are experiencing a difficult or high-risk pregnancy, including those who may require specialised medical treatment such as a C-section, may also access a doula, and while a doula has no formal medical training, they often work as a complimentary addition to the more traditional medical team. Research has suggested that constant support by a doula, along with the other members of a birthing support team (i.e. partner, friends, family) and a medical team (i.e. doctors, nurses, midwives) has been associated with improved outcomes for both mothers and children.

Hiring a doula may not be for everyone, however if you are feeling very stressed about your pregnancy, it is your first time or you don’t have a strong support network around you, a doula may be a great tool to help you feel more confident and secure during this life-changing experience.

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