What is a doula?
A doula is a woman who supports other women and their partners in pregnancy, labour and birth. We can also be called a birth coach, birth companion or labour assistant. Some of us have qualifications to give support after the baby is born too (postnatal / postpartum doulas).
Doula is actually an old Greek word for woman servant or slave! Modern doulas obviously work differently, for money and love :-)
We are usually professionally qualified and trained (I completed my training under Susan Ross at Birth Right www.birthright.com.au). We don't usually have any medical or clinical training, but we're knowledgable about making labour and the early days of parenting easier and more rewarding.
Aside from the balanced information and insipration we provide, you gain confidence just by having someone you know and trust there for you throughout your pregnancy, labour and postpartum journey. It's called continuity of care and several studies show the significant, positive difference it makes to birth outcomes and maternal satisfaction.
What do you do as a doula?
As your doula my job is to be there for you, looking out for your wellbeing and supporting you to birth/parent the way you want to. I will:
listen to your hopes and concerns, and help you overcome your fears
answer your questions, giving you balanced, up-to-date information about your choices so you can make decisions you're comfortable with
share practical tips and resources to help you prepare for positive, gentle birth and parenting
guide you on tools to use to make labour more comfortable incl. acupressure, massage, breathing techniques, movement, visualisation ...
encourage you to trust in the natural process of labour, to trust in your body, instincts and your baby
support you 100% in the choices you make as parents
give emotional and physical support during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period
provide advice for writing your birth preferences and how to stay as close to them as possible, whilst explaining why, how and when medical intervention/assistance can be needed.
What don't you do as a doula?
I'm not medically trained and not responsible for your clinical care, so I can't do any of the following:
I always advise you to talk to your caregivers (midwives/doctors) if you notice particular symptoms.
give medical advice
take your blood pressure
monitor your or your baby's heart rate
administer any medications, homeopathic treatments etc
measure or palpate your belly to assess our baby's size or position
do internal examinations to assess your cervix
deliver your baby.
Why are you more expensive than other doulas?
It's awesome to see more and more doula's training and qualifying all the time. The cost of hiring a doula varies from $800-$2500 which puts me roughly in the middle for my Standard package.
I've set my pricing based on these considerations:
I've practised as a doula since 2012 and have supported many couples in a variety of circumstances in that time
I'm also a certified childbirth educator and this enhances my service
I only take one or two couples on per month
average I spend about 30 hours with each of my clients
I'm a mother myself with three birth experiences of my own to draw upon
I'm really good at what I do and can provide full testimonials and contacts for you to speak directly to past clients about my service (there are some brief testimonials on the
Doula page too)
What's the evidence on doulas?
Several studies have shown we significantly improve birth, breastfeeding and attachment outcomes e.g. reduced need for pain relief, less need for intervention, shorter time in labour and greater maternal satisfaction with birth and bonding. It's the continuity of care that we provide that makes the difference.
Evidence Based Birth has a great
summary of the evidence showing how doulas help. They conclude:
"Of all the ways birth outcomes could be improved, continuous labour support seems like one of the most important and basic needs of birthing people. Providing labour support to birthing people is both risk free and and highly effective. Evidence shows that continuous labour support can significantly decrease the risk of cesareans, NICU admissions, Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin to induce/augment labour), and medications for pain relief. Labour support also increases satisfaction and the chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth. Although continuous support can also be provided by birth partners, midwives, nurses and even some physicians, research has shown that on some outcomes, doulas have a stronger effect than other types of support persons. As such, doulas should be viewed by parents and providers as a valuable, evidence-based member of the birth care team."
That's why the World Health Organisation recommends doulas!
Cochrane Review of 22 trials involving more than 15,000 births -
Continuous Support for Women in Childbirth, Hodnett et al
Safe Birth Checklist and
Companion of Choice evidence-to-action brief
What are your qualifications and how experienced are you?
I trained as a birth and postnatal doula in 2012 with Birth Right (www.birthright.com.au). Susan Ross, Director of Birth Right is a very exerienced doula, midwife and childbirth educator and has written books on the role of doulas and your rights/choices as a birthing mother. I loved my training with her.
I continue to keep my skills and knowledge up-to-date with reading, following research on pregnancy, birth and babies, and attending workshops / conferences / training e.g. Spinning Babies, Emergencies in Childbirth, Birthing from Within Heart of Mentoring.
I also teach childbirth education having trained to become a certified Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner in 2015.
I've supported many couples across Sydney since 2012 and attended births in hospital delivery suites, birth centres and at home. Water births, 'land' births, completely natural through to emergency caesarean. Long and short. Premature and 'overdue'. Inductions. VBACs. All different scenarios. Every birth is as unqiue as the woman and baby themselves. And, all such a privilege to bear witness to.
How do you work with partners?
To the birth partners,
This is the birth of your child (or that of someone you love) and your loving support is paramount. I'm there to support you equally. With me there you can relax and focus on her, taking whatever role you feel comfortable with. No worrying about remembering everything you learned in the classes, what to do when, or is everything that's happening normal.
I'll help you prepare for your role as birth partner, giving you encouargement and guidance on how you can help.
Having me there also means you can park the car or take a break knowing she's still supported by someone you both trust.
Do you have back-up?
Yes. I always have an experienced back-up doula with a similar approach and values to me lined up for you, in case:
I will advise who your back-up doula is before you engage my services. Jacki Barker and I often back each other up (www.lovecherub.com).
I also advise you of any prior committments during your on call period, including my teaching dates.
When I'm able to and if appropriate given where you're at in your labour, I will join you and relieve the back-up doula.
If you choose not to be supported by the back-up doula, I will partially refund your doula service fee.
I'm unable to attend due to unforseen circumstances like severe illness or an accident
I am teaching a childbirth education course (dates advised prior to booking me)
two of the couples I'm supporting are in labour at the same time (although I only take on two per month and don't take clients with estimatd due ates close together).
Can you take photo or video during my labour and birth?
Yes, absolutely. I'm not a professional photographer but I love to capture any special moments I can while making my phyiscal and emotional support for you my priority.
I will use my phone (and send you the images soon after) or your camera (set by you to a mode that's best for low lighting, so I can just 'point and shoot').
I know how much my daughters love looking at photos from their birthdays, so I'll try to take as many nice shots of you in labour, the birth and the three of you together after the birth.
We can talk about what you would/wouldn't like photographed in one of our prenatal meetings.
What specific support do you provide as a postnatal doula?
With a young family of my own, I work primarily as a birth doula. My capacity to provide postnatal support is mostly limited to evenings and weekends. However, with a teacher for a husband, I have greater flexibilty in the school holidays.
The needs of each family vary greatly in the postpartum period and my services are very much tailored to your situation; in terms of both the time spent and what I do while I'm with you.
Given the more adhoc/bespoke nature of postnatal support, I tend to charge on an hourly basis at $65/hour. However, we can also discuss a package to suit you.
provide advice and assistance with establishing breastfeeding, settling and bathing baby
show you infant massage
give tips on setting up your sleeping arrangements/nursery space
share online resources, books and DVDs for guidance and balanced information
debief your birth experience if you need to talk about it
do some light house work / tidying up
prepare snacks and cook nourshing meals
even double as a nanny, looking after the baby while you shower or have a nap, or play with/care for older siblings while you're with the baby.
Can you provide client testimonials?
Yes. There are snippets from a handful of past clients on this website and I can provide full testimonials plus contact details if you'd like to speak to any of my past clients directly.