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Doulas: the Rolls Royce of antenatal care

Imagine what it would feel like to give birth feeling supported, informed and involved in all your choices?

What difference do you think it would make if your birth support team helped you believe in yourself?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  Birth is a normal, everyday physiological event that your body is designed to do naturally.  In fact, according to nature’s design, birth is meant to be a joyous and ecstatic life experience.

Sure, birth can be hard work and for a small minority of women pregnancy and birth can present problems. But, the fact is for the vast majority of women pregnancy and birth are healthy transitions in life and yet this healthy state of womanhood is increasingly medically managed as an illness. Think about it: it is so normal to view pregnancy as a medical event that for most women the first thing they do when pregnant is book a doctor’s appointment and an ultrasound.

And fair enough, pregnancy is exciting and extra special care should be part of that. However, our culture tends to provide that special care in the form of ongoing medical tests and procedures that do little to prepare a woman for birthing or motherhood, and does a lot to instil fear that pregnancy and birth are risky business.

Wouldn’t it be better to choose a model of antenatal care that helped you trust your body and feel confident in yourself? 

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Let me introduce you to the role of a doula…

Doula is the name given to a birth support person who provides one-on-one continuous support of a non-medical nature and is instead trained in natural and traditional methods of being with women during labour.

Evidence shows women birth best when supported by people they know and trust, who are able to stay with them continuously throughout their labour and who understand techniques to be with women that promote normal, natural physiological childbirth.

The support a doula offers is recognized as having the following benefits:

  • Reduced incidence of Caesarean sections.
  • Reduction in requests for epidural and analgesics.
  • Increase in initiating and continuing breastfeeding.
  • Increased report of mother satisfaction with her birth experience.
  • Reduce the incidence of postnatal mood disorders.
  • Increased new parent confidence in their care for their newborn.

A doula will develop a relationship with you and provide the emotional support to listen to your fears and concerns. A doula will guide you through your birth preferences and assist you to make informed choices. A doula will support your partner and help your partner support you. A doula will encourage you to believe in yourself and find the resources within that you need to birth your baby. A doula will provide practical birth support skills to help you cope with the demands of labor. A doula will provide ongoing practical, emotional and social support long after your baby is born.

Why you shouldn’t give birth without a doula…

Given that pregnancy and birth are a healthy state of womanhood, doesn’t it make sense to choose birth support that promotes normal, natural physiological labor?

One of the side effects of modern obstetric methods has been to concentrate power in the hands of the hospital system. Sometimes women don’t often realise until they have had first hand experience that the medical model of care can lead to a birth often involving routine, unnecessary interventions.

The one thing in common with women who have had a negative birth experience is a sense of losing control of the situation, not knowing what is happening to them and why.

Unfortunately hospital midwives can be limited in the care they can provide and are often in the difficult position of having to comply with hospital protocols. They may not be able to stay with you continuously for the duration of your labor. You may not be able to see the same midwife throughout your pregnancy, some may not be trained in natural methods of birth support and their time may be spent managing technology rather than providing comfort and support. Additionally choosing an obstetric model of care can mean a medically managed birth by default because your obstetrician is trained in intervention and surgical delivery methods and may not have experienced normal, uninterrupted physiological labor. And although your partner may be with you throughout the duration of your labor it’s a huge ask to expect them to step into the role of birth support without any prior understanding of what is involved.

Having someone by your side providing emotional and physical support at this time who you trust and who will stay with you throughout makes a profound difference.

There is nothing new about a doula. It’s the way women have been supporting women to birth since time began. It is also the way women will continue to support women, despite having deviated to a medical model in very recent times, because for women a safe birth must provide for their emotional and psychological wellbeing as well as their physical needs.

Imagine having an antenatal (and postnatal) carer that helped you feel special by treating you like a pregnant and birthing goddess… 

Want to know more?

Contact me for more info about doulas and trainee doulas servicing the local region.


Peta-ElmerAbout the author…
Peta Elmer is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and Doula with a passion for promoting trust and respect for the wisdom of women’s bodies. She helps women learn to work with their body’s natural rhythms for maximum health, vitality, fertility, creativity and feminine power. She has a deep calling to birth work and her special mission is the message birth is meant to be a pleasurable and ecstatic experience. She believes a holistic Mind Body Spirit approach is key to preparing for the unfamiliar opening sensations of birth.
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