Your hubby’s promised to be on hand to help you with those all-important breathing techniques, so why would you want to hire a doula? Well, as any woman who has had a baby will testify, giving birth is one of those times when a bit of extra support goes a long way, especially when it comes in the form of a doula. Doulas are trained in childbirth and unlike midwives, whose role is to physically deliver babies, they provide emotional and physical support to expectant mothers before, during and shortly after birth. We caught up with antenatal/postnatal doula and breastfeeding counsellor, Andrea Allen of The Doting Doulas, to pick her brains on why you might want to think about hiring a doula. Here is what she had to say…
Reasons to hire a doula #1: Doulas can help lower birth risks
There are a number of reports that show that the rates of interventions, epidurals and C-sections drop quite considerably when doulas are involved . There are a lot of potential reasons for this. For example, mum might feel a greater sense of safety because she has an established relationship with her doula. It’s also likely that because she feels more supported, she will feel less pain and ask for fewer interventions. From a scientific perspective women give off more Oxytocin (the hormone of love) than men, and therefore having continuous female birth support raises your levels, which in turn helps with your body’s natural pain relief.
Reasons to hire a doula #2: Doulas are your own personal resource guide
Since qualifying as a doula seven years ago I’ve attended well over 100 births, so I’ve gained a lot of knowledge. When I’m working with a mum-to-be I like to have two antenatal meeting before the birth, as well as the odd coffee or two in order to help us get to know each other. As a doula it’s my job to offer support and evidence-based information that is specific to that pregnancy.
Reasons to hire a doula #3: Doulas are all about you
Birth is probably the most intimate thing a woman will ever go through and having someone in the room who you know and trust is vital. This is particularly true in this part of the world where so many of us don’t have family living close by and have husbands who travel frequently. The role of a doula is very similar to the kind of support you might get from a mum or sister. We are there to provide physical and emotional support during labour and birth, without doing anything medical.
Reasons to hire a doula #4: Dad can lean on your doula too
Our help isn’t just for mum – it’s also for dad. Where dad is concerned we are there to help him feel empowered to help mum and to make her feel safe and secure. Admittedly, a lot of the time when I first meet dads they are usually a bit skeptical, but they tend to come round and I actually get a lot of testimonials from fathers saying how much they appreciated me being there.
Reasons to hire a doula #5: Your doctor might be grateful for the help
For the most part doctors and midwives are very supportive and understand the benefits of what we do. In fact many of my mothers have come to me because they were pointed in my direction by their OB/GYN.
Reasons to hire a doula #6: A doula will advocate for you
Whether a mum wants to give birth in a birthing pool, or squatting on the floor, we will do our best to give her the confidence to stick with that, which can be quite hard during childbirth because it’s an overwhelming experience. That said, it’s not our job to stand in the way of doctors and if circumstances take a different turn, mum must be prepared to go with what her doctor recommends to ensure a healthy outcome for all.
Reasons to hire a doula #7: Hiring a doula is more affordable than you think
The going rate for a doula varies widely, but the average cost is Dhs5,000 and that usually includes two antenatal sessions and two postnatal sessions, as well as the actual birth experience.
NOTE: Andrea Allen trained with Nurturing Birth, which is the UK’s leading doula training organization, as well as DONA International, the US equivalent. However, it is important to note that in the UAE doula practice is not regulated and, unlike the UK and the US, doulas here are not required by law to qualify before practicing. With this in mind Andrea recommends always checking qualifications and level of experience before engaging a doula.