FAQ

So what is a Doula anyway?
What areas do you cover?
Why hire a Doula?
What kind of births do you attend?
Why would I want a Birth Doula when my partner is going to be my birth companion anyway?
What’s the difference between a recognised and a mentored doula?
I’d like to hire a Doula, but can’t afford one!
I’d like to hire a Doula, but want to find others as well/am not in your area. Where can I look?

So what is a Doula anyway?

It’s someone like me who supports families during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal time after baby arrives. Some Doulas only do postnatal work, some concentrate on births, others, like me, support families right through their journey of becoming a parent (or parent of 2/3/4/…).

For more information about what a Doula does, see more about my Doula services here or see ‘What is a Doula?’ on the Doula UK website.

What areas do you cover?

Roughly a big circle of central southern England, centred on Newbury. I will travel up to 45 minutes (by car) for a birth client, or up to 1 hour for a postnatal client. This encompasses Winchester, Marlborough, Swindon, Oxford, Wallingford, Reading, Maidenhead, Basingstoke and all of West Berkshire.

But if you’d like to talk to me about whether I could help you and you’re not sure if you’re in “my area”, get in touch: exactly how far or long I will travel is flexible.

Why hire a Doula?

When asked this, I always think “well, why not if you know about them?”. A Doula can benefit almost any family.

Sadly, with the modernisation of childbirth and the centralisation of care in much of the UK, a vital element of support for pregnant or birthing parents, and new parents, has been lost. Gone are the days where a woman would have continuous support from one carer throughout her pregnancy and labour. It also used to be the case that the womenfolk within the immediate and extended family (mothers/sisters/grandmother etc…) would be on hand to provide a nurturing role for the new mother, to guide by experience and provide practical help before, during and after a woman gives birth. Now, we tend to have small families, often move away from our immediate families, rarely grow up around lots of pregnant women, new babies or breastfeeding mothers and may well also have friends, sisters, mothers or even grandmothers who had highly medicalised births and did not receive the support they may well have needed themselves during pregnancy, labour or with a new baby.

Research has clearly shown that women who receive continuous support during labour:

  • are more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth
  • are less likely to require an instrumental delivery (forceps or vacuum)
  • are less likely to require a Caesarean section
  • may have a shorter labour
  • are less likely to need painkilling drugs
  • are less likely to have a baby with a low 5-minute AGPAR score (a measure of how well the baby is doing 5 minutes after birth)*.

In addition, research suggests that having a Doula – someone experienced in birth, who is independent of the hospital or medical providers and who is not there as a family member or friend – providing continuous support during labour and birth gives the best chance of a good outcome.

A Doula is likely to have helped her clients prepare for birth and will be there during the labour for however long it takes. A Doula can provide reassurance that the normal progression of labour is normal and nothing to worry about, especially helpful for first-time parents or those who have not been able to have the birth they wanted with previous babies. A Doula is also likely to know tricks that may help the labouring mother-to-be progress better and encourage labour. And as a mother-to-be, father-to-be or family member, it can be hard to make balanced decisions when the mother-to-be is in pain or scared or there is a potential risk to the mother-to-be’s or baby’s safety. A Doula does not give advice, but can help make sure that the parents are as informed as possible at every stage and are supported to make balanced decisions, not pressured into doing something they do not want to do through being given one-sided information.

What kind of births do you attend?

Any kind! From home birth or hospital birth, drug-free vaginal birth to Caesarean section, I can be there for you.

Why would I want a Birth Doula when my partner is going to be my birth companion anyway?

Note – this also applies if you will have your mother/sister/friend as your birth companion as well.

As a Doula, I would not want to and should not be taking the place of a father-to-be or partner during a birth, unless parental choice, circumstances or cultural pressures mean that the mother’s partner is unable to be with her during labour and birth.

A Doula’s role is very much complementary to that of the mother’s partner.

Whether it is being there so that the labouring mother-to-be is not left alone when her partner needs to take a toilet break or get some rest during a very long labour, having an extra person to communicate with staff and arrange practical details (e.g. filling a birth pool, putting a parking pass in the car, etc), providing a knowledgeable sounding board when the parents have to make decisions or are confused by medical terminology or procedures, or just being a supportive & positive presence so that a partner is not worried by the normal progress of labour, a Doula can support the partner to support the mother-to-be.

Often, a large part of my role during labour and birth, is actually supporting birth partners, so they can be the support they want to be. Especially with a first baby, there can be a lot of pressure on and anxiety for, a partner during birth and my role is to help everyone to have a positive and supported experience.

An important part of the Doulas role can also be to protect the birth space, for both the labouring mother and her partner. As well as helping deal with practicalities, and sometimes advocating for you both to have your choices respected, this can also mean acting as your doorkeeper, sometimes literally, to ensure that the two of you are not disturbed more than is essential and can get on with the work of birthing your baby or babies.

In addition, the research evidence suggests that having a Doula – someone experienced in birth, who is independent of the hospital or medical providers and who is not there as a family member or friend – providing continuous support during labour and birth gives the best chance of a good outcome. See ‘Why Hire a Doula?’ above for more info.

These articles from DONA (Doulas of North America), Pregnancy Beat and a Dad writing on About.com, about Doulas and Dads, are quite useful reading:
www.dona.org/PDF/DadsandDoulas.pdf
www.pregnancybeat.com/how-fathers-benefit-from-hiring-a-doula

pregnancy.about.com/od/doula1/a/dads-and-doulas.htm

What’s the difference between a recognised and a mentored doula?

Mentored doulas
A Mentored Doula has completed a Doula UK approved Preparation Course and is involved in Doula UK’s Recognition Process. This means that she has a Mentor providing support and supervision within a framework for reflective practice until she has gained sufficient experience to become a Recognised Doula. A Mentored Doula’s fees reflect her previous and current experience, her expenses and the going rate in her area.

Recognised doulas
A Recognised Doula has been evaluated by a Doula UK Doula Mentor at the end of the Recognition Process, as having sufficient experience to practise without on-going mentoring. Doula UK nevertheless continues to provide support for all its members.

I’d like to hire a Doula, but can’t afford one!

If you would like to hire a Doula, but don’t think you can afford it, it may still be possible!

To start with, mentored Doulas charge a lot less than recognised Doulas. I’m a Recognised Doula UK Birth Doula, but I can point you towards some lovely mentored doulas in the area.

If you would really like to hire me as your Doula, but would struggle to pay the fees, do please still get in touch. I am willing to offer payment plans or negotiate reduced fees for families in genuine financial need. You may also be able to offer something in lieu of cash! See this blog post on exchanging services.

There are also sometimes local options for getting a Doula funded and you may be eligible to apply to the Doula UK Access Fund. Doulas who work under the Access Fund work for expenses only (paid for by the Access Fund).

You may also have the option of asking for Doula UK gift vouchers instead of presents to offset some of the cost of hiring a Doula. Doula support or yet another soft toy – you choose!

If you’re not sure whether hiring a doula is good value for money, then this post on how my fee is made up and the evidence discussed under Why Hire a Doula? may help. Hiring a doula is an investment in your parenting journey.

Exceptional circumstances
I support the Op:Doula program helping military families. In time this scheme will pay for a Doula’s expenses when a partner/father is unable to be at a birth because of deployment or injury, or in the case of loss. For now, I am very happy to work for travel expenses only for any family in these situations.

I also support Doula UK’s work with victims of domestic violence. If you are in receipt of services from any charity for women escaping domestic violence, I am happy to work for travel expenses only and my expenses could be paid by the Doula UK Access Fund.

I’d like to hire a Doula, but want to find others as well/am not in your area. Where can I look?

Take a look at the Doula UK website where you can search for Doula UK registered Doulas in your area.

* Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C, Weston J. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD003766. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003766.pub3

One thought on “FAQ

  1. Hello from a doula in Chicago! My daughter is a doula as well. Of course we have a very different health system in the US, but Americans are really beginning to catch on.
    Best wishes to all of you on your work.

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