Giving birth is an incredible event that you’ll never forget – it is a rite of passage. Doulas are passionate about birth, their ultimate goal is for birth to be a nurturing, empowering and life-changing experience… for the better.
Doulas are usually experienced women who have completed some basic training and in my case, I received my training with WOMBS South Africa, but we are not medically trained and can’t replace the clinical care you’ll get from your midwife or doctor. We provide practical and emotional support during your pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
WHAT EXACTLY DOES A DOULA DO?
A doula is trained in labour and childbirth and provides continuous support to a labouring mother. Doulas support labouring women by:
Providing continuous emotional and physical support
Giving information if asked and helping the mother find resources to research her birth choices before labour
Using comfort measures like massage, suggesting different positions and helping with relaxation breathing
Accommodating the mother’s wishes for the birth environment (low light, soft music, etc) in the place of birth
Encouraging the mother to be informed about any procedures and interventions (a doula does NOT give medical advice or interfere with the midwife)
Supporting the father/partner in the best way to support the mother.
A doula never replaces the very important role of the father/partner and a doula will help the birth partner by suggesting ways that he can support the labouring mom and things that can improve their synergy in labour. The role of the doula is never to take the place of husbands or partners in labour, but rather to complement and enhance their experience.
Today, more husbands play an active role in the birth process. However, some partners prefer to enjoy the delivery without having to stand in as the labour coach. Studies have shown that having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall cesarean rate by 50%, the length of labour by 25%, the use of oxytocin by 40%, and requests for an epidural by 60%.
So this basically sums up our role of Doula, but we are just so much more!
I started my journey to becoming a doula after the birth of my first child. I was told before I gave birth that I would never be able to give birth vaginally and that I should just have a c/section. “Have a Caesar to save your beaver.”, yes, you read that correctly that’s what she said. Having a slightly competitive streak in my soul and knowing my mother had 3 successful natural births, I thought so why can’t I? After a good cry with my husband about what my care provider had told me, we decided to do our research and to change care providers. I’m so glad we did!
Fast forward 12 weeks later, I gave birth vaginally to a gorgeous girl and that’s when I knew that I was a BIRTH ADDICT! I needed more, I wanted to experience that again and again, I wanted to educate women about their different options and that sometime you gotta trust Mother Nature and the body we are given! I immediately started to look into how I can go about this and went to a few universities to see if I can start with my nursing degree and then study further to be a midwife.
They, unfortunately, looked at my marks and well …. yea .. Maths was never meant to be my friend.
So my next best option was to become a DOULA, and I’ve never looked back. After completing my training with WOMBS in 2014 I hopped on to that birth train and I’ve been addicted ever since. Witnessing the miracle of life (as cliched as that may sound) in this often negative world is why I do what I do. I see women become mothers, husbands becoming dads and my best is their mothers and fathers in the waiting room just desperate to hear those words ” congrats granny /grandad …baby is perfection.”
Having a doula is a must if you want a knowledgeable and experienced person to give you all the love and support you need during your pregnancy, birth and post-baby. We are there to support you and your partner and to let you explore different options that will support the birth that YOU WANT.
What a better way to start your journey into parenthood? Whether it’s your first or tenth baby we are there for YOU and your partner.
Katrina Meek is a mother, a wife, a sister, an Aunty, a friend and a DOULA. I believe birth is incredibly beautiful and powerful. It is a sacred moment and quite possibly one of the most important and life-changing events in a woman’s life. I believe if women can carry the courage and strength they gain from a positive birth experience and transfer those qualities to their daily life the possibilities are endless. As a doula, I believe in supporting your strength and acknowledging the choices you make. It is a privilege to witness a birth. It is profound.
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