Let’s Doula This! The Power of Doula Support

Let’s Doula This – Recognising The Power of Doula Support

By Robyn @mightybirthtribe

As I sit to write this, during World Doula Week, it’s hard not to be amazed by the incredible stories of support that fill up my news feed.  Women who have been empowered to give birth on their own terms.  Women who have been emotionally held through their pregnancies and postpartum periods by someone who knows their path intimately.

At a time where NHS perinatal mental health services are stretched, and midwifery even more so, the continuity of care that a doula could provide for your journey into motherhood – also known as “matrescence” – is transformational!

How Does A Doula Help During Pregnancy?

Pregnancy – though we often don’t want to admit it for fear of seeming ungrateful – can be a time of anxiety, identity crisis and apprehension of the unknown.  A doula can be a constant support throughout this time to help to rationalise and process these concerns.  We are trained in the art of listening without judgment, without an attempt to “fix” (unless that’s what you want).  Just to hold space for your feelings.

It is also a time where we are quick to consult Dr. Google for information about every niggle.  And I’ll let you in on a secret: Dr Google spits out doom and gloom and unnecessary worry.  Having a doula on side to help signpost you to balanced and reliable information helps to ease this anxiety.

How Does A Doula Help Before Birth?

There’s a myth that doulas are only for unmedicated, home-birthing, hypnobirthing mums.  And we are for those mums… but also the elective Caesarean mums.  And the hospital birthing mums.  And the give-me-all-the-pain-relief mums.

That is not to say that doulas don’t have total, complete and utter faith in the physiological birth process.  Birth is, at its heart, a natural process that occasionally needs to happen more medically.  It is NOT a medical process that occasionally can happen more naturally.  I can help you to connect with your body and your hormones in a way that will provide the optimal conditions for you to birth your baby blissfully and naturally – if that is what you choose.  We can absolutely help you to find balanced information on all of your birth choices, whether it falls outside of your midwife’s “advice” or not.  We can also help you to advocate for yourself in the birth space as your birth unfolds.

What About DURING Birth?

In the birth space, YOU are the pro.  Your doula will just be there to remind you of that.  We can encourage, hand hold, massage, support your body to move instinctively, dance you through your contractions, remind you of the birth you visualised.  Lots of doulas are trained in hypnobirthing and rebozo and aromatherapy and lots of other wonderful techniques that can help you stay in control of your birth experience.

Paediatrician Dr John Kennell famously said that “if a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”  More powerful than opioids or epidurals, doulas’ impact in the birth room is proven: you are 39% less likely to have an unplanned Caesarean birth.  Dissatisfaction with your birth experience is reduced by almost a third.  Your baby is 38% less likely to have a low APGAR score at birth.

It’s not because of any one thing we do: it’s because of everything you know we COULD do.  A doula’s very presence will bathe you in beautiful oxytocin that’ll help you to boss your birth.

What Does A Postnatal Doula Do?

I suppose the question is what DOESN’T a postnatal doula do?  The first few weeks with your new baby are weeks you’ll never get back, so having doula support can help you to bask in that post-baby haze.

Whether it’s help to establish breastfeeding, learn about babywearing, prioritise self-care, work through those “baby blues” or relieve some of the practical burden of washing and cooking, postnatal doulas do it all.

How Do I Find A Doula That’s Right For Me?

Most people first find doula databases like the Developing Doulas directory, or the Doula UK.  But not all doulas are listed here.  It might be worth also Googling doula services in your area and engaging with some of their web pages to get a sense of local doulas and their offerings.

Not all doulas use these methods, though – many advertise themselves through their socials alone, so have a follow of some hashtags like #doula and search terms like “doula Bedford” to find some hidden gems.

Finding a doula is like finding a partner – the chemistry has to be right.  My top tip is to “interview” a couple of doulas.  After all, you are hiring them to accompany you on the most important journey of your life so far.  We won’t take it personally if you don’t choose us in the end – I promise! Don’t be afraid to probe and question to figure out if their ethos and energy fits yours.

Robyn Silkstone

Pregnancy and Postnatal Doula and Holistic Sleep Coach 

Want to know more about how a doula could help support your pregnancy and fourth trimester?  I’d love to hear from you, to talk about how I could help you, and point you towards some other incredible doulas and organisations to empower you on your journey!  Add me on Insta @mightybirthtribe or email me: mightybirthtribe@outlook.com


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