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Role of a doula/birth attendant

The following is a summary of our ideas on the role of a doula/birth attendant/ support person during pregnancy, throughout labour and birth and after the baby is born.

Why consider a birth attendant/doula/support person?
The benefits of support are considerable: It helps you feel more comfortable and confident in your ability to give birth. This can mean: a shorter birth, less intervention, that you view your birth experience more positively (even if there are real difficulties or if it is long and hard)

Who to choose as a support person
It’s important to choose people because you want them, not out of duty or others’ expectations of being invited. They need faith in birth process and willingness to support you in what you want. You may have relatives or friends who meet your needs or you might think about contracting a birth attendant/doula for your birth support.

What we do as your doula
We get to know women during pregnancy, which leads to a trusting relationship. This leads to the woman feeling greater confidence in her ability to give birth and increases her trust in birth process. We stay with a woman throughout her labour and birth – providing a continuity of care, which may not happen otherwise. We maintain contact in the following weeks and can talk over the birth experience, offer practical or emotional support.

What we do as basic elements of birth support

  • Help create or protect a woman’s space to give birth.
    • Supporting a woman’s own emotional/psychological readiness and confidence to accept and go with birth experience ( before and during birth)
    • Eliminating or reducing environmental stresses. Creating a ‘safe’ environment.
    • Protecting the woman from negative influences eg other people’s anxieties or issues. Before labour: increasing awareness of people you are comfortable/not comfortable with. No duty to perform for anyone else. During labour: reducing sources of anxiety, being a calm presence, modelling support roles.
  • Provide practical, physical support.
    • Hot nappies, massage, drinks, toilet, food, face, ice, positions etc. All help a woman to be energised and focussed. Able to deal with letting go, with letting the baby out. Able to get through pain herself more effectively
  • Support woman to fully enter (go with) birth process
    • Before labour: exploration of fears, debunking myths, working out informed wishes, increasing faith in self and in birth process.
    • At labour: verbal encouragement, use of affirmations. Endorphine-stimulating massage
  • Advocate for woman.
    • Before labour: work together what woman wants/hopes for
    • At labour: ask Q’s / raise issues/ clarify recommendations/ seek info
    • At labour: Let caregivers know of woman’s ideas and wishes.