Role of a doula

 

During the antenatal period, at about 8 months, the doula spends several hours, one to one with the couple she is supporting. 

She aims to understand the type of birth the couple is hoping for and then highlights options available to them that may give them the best chance of achieving their dream birth. For example, the doula will explain the importance of allowing the natural birthing hormones of oxytocin and endorphins which, if allowed to develop and flow naturally, can help you towards a calm and less painful birth. 

She will show the couple how best to encourage these hormone levels to rise, for example dimming the lights, reducing talking and feelings of being observed and a number of other natural aids to labour. 

She will highlight possible implications of medical interventions and pain relief and the choices available to the couple during before, during and after labour.  She will never advise or make decisions for you but she will highlight the latest research around each topic and give couples the option of making an informed choice.

The doula will also help prepare the woman for breastfeeding and explain that what happens to the baby during the first two hours after birth can hold the key to successful breastfeeding. 

When the time comes she will join the couple during their labour. If the plan is for a hospital birth, couples who labour at home with the doula by their side often have the confidence to stay at home for several hours more than they would have if labouring on their own. This can help extend the time during which labour can progress calmly and encourage quicker dilation.  

During labour some doulas are able to provide alternative therapies such as head massage, aromatherapy or homeopathy. 

The doula is not meant to replace a birth partner, but helps shows the partner how he or she can be of calm, practical support rather than being anxious and not quite sure how to help.


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