A Doula serves and supports a woman in her journey to motherhood. They work with a woman and her family during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
Often Doula’s within the UK have undergone a foundational level of Doula Specific Training.
They are certified, insured and are often registered with the Doula UK, a national non-profit association body. The objective of Doula UK is to offer women and their families a level of professionalism and quality assurance from the Doula community.
Doulas are not necessarily medically trained. They do not take a clinical role. They do not give advice medically or otherwise, but instead give a balanced view. They will flagpost information and resources so that a woman feels empowered to make informed decisions about maternity care for herself.
Beyond their foundational training, each doula offers their unique life experience and are passionate about women’s wellbeing.
In my view, a good Doula wour draw upon traditional birth wisdom from cultures around the world. This is because there is so much ancient birth wisdom which has been lost and needs to be reclaimed.
A doula can be the thread that restores the age-old tradition of healing birth and postpartum wellness. through doing so, they can connect a women to their own intuition and inner wisdom.
There is a rich diversity in the experiences and skills that doulas have. This means that no two doulas nor their services are ever the same.
A doula could have expertise in a variety of other complimentary healing modalities. You can find a doula that has expertise in things such as yoga, massage, cooking, reiki, physiotherapy, or even a previous background in practising as a midwife.
Doula During Pregnancy
You can get to know your doula throughout your pregnancy to build that rapport of trust, but most people tend to hire them specifically just for the birth and onwards.
Doula During Birth
Studies have shown that support from a Doula can result in a positive birth experience. There is an association with reduced mortality rates, improved overall health of the mother and the baby, a shorter labour time, a reduced risk of a C-Section, and a lower need for medical interventions such as instrumental delivery or pain relief.
A postpartum doula service involves support for the mother baby and family. They could be considered as a “mother to the mother”, and nurture the entire family as they adapt and transition into life with a newborn. This includes doing things to help new parents feel more confident in their role, sharing education on family adjustment and tending to the unique needs of a postpartum mum.
Postpartum Support Services can include:
- phone and email support
- breastfeeding support and lactation referrals
- pumping and bottle-feeding support
- sibling support
- postpartum care & womb care
- Mum & newborn care
- running errands
- household organisation
- Food shopping
- light cleaning and meal preparation
- listening to and assisting in processing of birth story
- helping to establish a support network
My experience with a Doula
Personally I was interested in exploring and connecting to the energetic and spiritual aspects of pregnancy and childbirth.
The Doula that I chose was a wonderful woman called Eva Greenslade. I chose Eva because she is a Shamanic Practitioner that has an interest and specialism in ceremony, ritual, shamanic drumming, rebozo and energetic healing. Also she has knowledge of birthing positions from spinningbabies.com
Eva offers several packages with different levels of support. I chose her Sacred Motherhood Journey Support. This involved support all through pregnancy, during birth and postnatally. It also included additional support from a secondary Doula called Jemma.
For me this was a fantastic service because Jemma had a different set of specialisms and skills including pregnancy and postnatal massage and nutritious cooking.
During pregnancy, Eva and I would meet around every new moon. She would help me focus on my pregnancy and set an intention that aligned with the energies that a particular moon carried.
For example I recall the moon in Virgo related to organising your physical environment which corresponded wonderfully with me preparing my home for a home birth.
Each session with Eva was different. She adapted and responded to whatever I needed at the time. Sometimes she helped me with practical issues, other times she helped me unpackage and process emotional concerns.
In addition to holding space for me practically and emotionally she also worked with me energetically and spiritually.
During sessions, we would pull tarot cards and she would hold a shamanic drumming meditation for me and my baby. This was amazing because it was a wonderful opportunity for me to feel connected with my pregnancy and my baby which was important to me because I struggled to connect due to feeling so nauseous, exhausted and anxious during my pregnancy.
I also met with Jemma several times for pregnancy massage.
Eva and Jemma together held a birth preparation ceremony for me where they facilitated me in creating sacred birth art. the birth art allowed me to create a visual depiction of my birth plan. I found this to be a really unique, clarifying and powerful process.
Eva was also on call for 2 weeks prior to my birth and would have been on hand if I needed her for the actual labour. However for the actual birth it turned out I randomly had 4 midwives, my sister and husband at my home birth so I didn’t call upon Eva. You can read my birth story here.
Postnatally my sessions with Eva were invaluable.
She was very instrumental in facilitating my healing and recovery.
Again her support was practical, emotional and spiritual in nature. I suffered excruciating pelvic girdle pain postnatally and could barely walk for 2 weeks. I slept downstairs for the first week because I couldn’t make it up the stairs! But Eva’s support helped make this time manageable and positive.
Eva helped my husband tidy the house and she cleared the clutter around me.
She would bring me lactation boosting snacks
She prepared my umbilical cord and prepared it as a keepsake
She listened to my birth story and helped me process it.
She carried out Robozo treatments that were amazing and so beneficial.
(Robozo treatment is ceremonial in nature and helps to create closure of the birthing process. It’s an energetic and physical treatment involving gentle massage and rocking of my belly and pelvis being wrapped in a sacred scarf. This is sometimes more commonly known as ‘closing the bones ceremony’ but Eva does not call it this as she was taught Sacred Robozo from indigenous practitioners from South America and prefers to honour the treatment in the original way that the wisdom was passed onto her.)
Furthermore, she prepared my placenta into a healing tincture and into smoothies which I drank.
Also, she prepared me ceremonial grade cacao for mood boosting, golden milk for healing and lactation boosting herbal teas to drink.
Jemma also came with some delicious homemade postpartum foods, her bone and vegan broths and lactation cookies and energy balls were divine.
She gave me wonderful postnatal massages that included special abdominal fascia treatment which helps heal and restore the stomach and abdominal organs after birth.
We concluded our time together with my mother and baby blessing ceremony which Eva and Jemma held for me and my baby in my home space.
This was a magical and powerful ceremony that honoured me as a mother and welcomed my baby into the world.
The Process to finding and working with a Doula
First of all, reflect upon the kind of support that you envisage receiving. The kinds of areas of expertise that appeal. I’m a strong believer of manifestation and I feel that if you reflect upon and are clear on your intentions and desires for your pregnancy, birth and postpartum, you can attract the right Doula for you.
You could either seek out personal recommendations from others or conduct an online search starting with Doula UK and then examine a doula’s website.
The next steps would be to make an enquiry and arrange to interview the Doula.
This is usually set up as an informal and unpaid meeting over coffee where you get to know the Doula.
The interview does not mean that you are obliged to take them on as a Doula. It all depends on if you felt it was a good fit for you.
Remember it’s your maternal care and you need to feel secure and comfortable and confident with your Doula.