Introducing
Doulas


About Doulas

A Doula is someone who offers emotional, practical and informational support to a woman and her family before, during and after childbirth. A Doula will support whatever birth a women chooses to have, from home-birth to elective caesarean. She provides non-judgmental care.

When you have suffered the loss of a baby, you may find it helpful to enlist the support of a Doula – in particular for help in coping with any future pregnancies – to provide practical support and much-needed emotional reassurance.

Doulas have always been around – in days gone by they were the experienced women of the ‘village’ who supported new mums and families – who knew how to help a woman prepare for birth and parenting, how to work with her body during labour, and how to ride the rollercoaster of emotions that come when new life comes in to the world. Doulas have a long history of ‘mothering the mother’, to provide nourishment, reassurance and sometimes a shoulder to cry on.

In the United Kingdom a doula needs to have completed an approved course in order to join Doula UK, the main organisation for doulas. On a preparation course an aspiring doula will look closely at the role of the doula, how to best support families, birth and parenting options, infant feeding, how to run a doula business, as well as debriefing her own experiences of birth, feeding and parenting. On completion of a course a new doula will normally start a period of mentoring, getting support from an experienced doula.

It is incredibly important that a mother and her partner choose a doula they feel really comfortable with, and they may meet several different doulas before they find the right person for them. When looking for a doula, it is also worth considering in advance what length of time you think you would like her help for.

 



How a Doula can help when you have a Stillbirth

If your baby dies during pregnancy, a doula can be an incredible support to your family as you deliver your child.

The doula can hold, reassure, encourage and support a mother as she labours, give her information to help her make choices about what she needs, and then ensure that the family have time and space to bond with their baby.

Doulas also have lots of information at their fingertips which grieving parents may find helpful – they can signpost support networks, other families who have experienced similar situations, charities that will provide help for you to find ways to honour and remember your lost baby.

After your baby is born, a doula can provide emotional and practical support as a family grieves for their missing baby. This support may come in the form of lovely meals, walking the dog, sitting and listening to how someone is feeling, helping with other children and family commitments, being an extra pair of ears at appointments, helping to make formal arrangements for your baby or facilitating donation of breastmilk to the local hospital milk bank, if that’s something you would like to do.

A doula can provide you with intuitive emotional and practical support at a time of deep grief; the list of things she can do to help you is endless.

 

Help
With Later Pregnancies


How a Doula can help with Later Pregnancies

Anxiety levels can be high in any pregnancies you have after you have lost a baby. Having the support of a doula through subsequent pregnancies can be invaluable, both for expectant mums and for their partners.

During a subsequent pregnancy a doula can provide emotional support to a mother and her partner; doulas are never afraid of hearing stories and are really good at listening.

Doulas can help the family prepare for the upcoming birth and signpost options and research so the mother can make an informed choice about her care. A Birth Plan or a document outlining birth preferences can be put together with your doula’s help, so that the care providers are fully aware of your needs, wishes and history.

The doula is there to support partners too, and she will work to enable the couple to have the most positive experience possible, despite their anxieties and concerns.

During the birth the doula is a constant – she stays with the couple for the duration and remains until the parents are settled with their new baby. She can give emotional, physical and practical support throughout. In preparation for bringing the new baby home, the doula will help the parents consider what further support needs to be put in place, and signpost resources, groups and information.

Doulas are there to serve the needs of the family. For a family who is still grieving the loss of a baby, a doula is able to adapt their support to best fit the people they work with. They are warm, loving, nurturing women who are able to provide you with much-needed emotional support and practical help if you are feeling anxious about delivering another child, following a stillbirth.

 
 




For help finding a doula, and other resources relating to pregnancy and birth, see www.nurturingbirthdirectory.com

You can also search for a doula in your area at www.doula.org.uk