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FIVE COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT DOULAS

I recently read many articles, comments on social media about who is a Doula and what is exactly her role in a woman life.

Therefore I would like to clarify with the 5 most common misconceptions about the ROLE OF A DOULA:

#1 ‘A doula is just like a midwife who is not qualified’ 
No, they’re actually not, so I thought I will get this one out of the way first. Unlike a midwife, who oversees the medical aspects of birth, a doula’s expertise lies in offering emotional and practical support, encouragement and reassurance and unbiased information. While doctors and midwives may finish their shift, a doula may stay with her client for the duration of the labour, providing her with much-needed continuity of care. The role of a doula is complementary to and does not replace in any way, a birth team of medical professionals that may include a midwife and/or an obstetrician, a GP and/or a paediatrician. Bigger your team is better experience you may have 🙂

#2 ‘I don’t need a doula because I have a partner’ 

Let’s make one thing clear: a doula is not there to replace anyone – not a midwife, not a doctor, and certainly not a partner. They are there to complement the birthing team – to help and support both the labouring woman and her partner if she has one – it’s not an either/or situation. During and prior to labour, a doula may teach a partner pain-coping strategies to better support the mother-to-be, such as breathing, massage, and positioning. For many partners, it’s their first time too and, whilst they want to do their best, they don’t always know what to do or how. A doula’s presence can help partners play a more active support role in labour and birth with greater confidence. Plus, it is not always culturally appropriate for a male partner to be present at the birth and therefore a doula provides a much-needed reassuring presence and support.

#3 ‘Doulas get in the way of hospital staff’ 

This is one that we sometimes hear from doctors who’ve had negative experiences working with doulas in the hospital environment. Doulas are there to provide an enriching and fulfilling birth experience for the labouring woman – and this sometimes means advocating on her behalf. I have likely met with the mother-to-be several times antenatally to discuss any concerns she might have and to create a birth plan. It is not the place of a doula to go against medical advice or undermine the role of the midwife or obstetrician but rather to provide non-biased information so that birthing women can make informed choices about her care. This additional continuous non-medical support and care, on top of what hospitals provide, has a significant impact in improving birth outcomes and satisfaction and may decrease the possibility for the mum to go through baby blues

#4 ‘Doulas are hippies’

Sure, maybe some are but, like all professions, doulas come from all walks of life and have varying spiritual and ideological outlooks and beliefs. They are as varied as any community group and you certainly do not have to be a barefooted, harem-pant wearing earth warrior to be a doula or have a doula! I believe that every woman deserves the opportunity to have the best pregnancy, birth and early parenting experience possible regardless of their background, religion, believes and wallet size. A Doula should give her services listening to the family needs and support it without judgement.

#5 ‘Doulas only support women who want a ‘natural birth’ 

Whether it be a planned or emergency caesarian section in a hospital, assisted delivery or a drug-free birth, me as a Doula I’m prepared to support a woman through any labour and birth. Many of the women I worked to find it invaluable to have experienced support besides them to deal with unexpected outcomes or complications that may arise. I met with the woman a few times before she goes into labour (sometimes more if required for other services: massages, aromatherapy, emotional support, birth plan preparation and much more), and so I understand and will try to help fulfil the woman’s birth intentions, and be mindful of any religious or cultural considerations. Indeed I visit the new mother antenatally according to what we previously discussed of ever more if it is required. I support women and families in all kinds of situations, who have different kinds of births planned and make a wide range of parenting choices. My services are not a “one-size-fits-all approach!” so don’t be scared to ASK!

#6 ‘A Doula is like my friend but I need to pay her to get same support’

Well it depends who is your friend! A Doula is a qualified and experienced person who researched and studied to be able to be there to help any new mother’s need, this may include helping with tiding the house, look after the older siblings but is NOT the only point! There is much more to it. I’m, for example, specialised in lactation, aromatherapy, herbalism, babywearing, Ayurvedic massages, cloth diapers, low waste solutions and auto-production of cosmetics, belly binding, placental medicine, ancestral rituals and much more. So if you have a friend who is prepared to support you 360 degrees on all maternity and family aspects let me say that you are very very lucky!

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