What is a ‘Doula’?

You may be at your first pregnancy and despite you are over the moon about the idea of soon holding your little bundle of joy, you may as well be terrified of all the process your body will have to go through for the two of you to finally meet each other and you have no idea how you are going to react to it.

If like myself and many others, especially living in London, you have no family nearby or if you are simply unsure whether your mother, your sister or your best friend will be able to be present during such a crucial moment of your life or not, you may consider using the support of a doula.

The Wikipedia definition for such an emerging role is the following:

“A doula (/ˈdlə/), also known as a birth companion and post-birth supporter, is a non medical person who assists a woman before, during, and/or after childbirth, as well as her spouse and/or family, by providing physical assistance, and emotional support. The provision of continuous support during labor is associated with improved maternal and fetal health and a variety of other benefits, including lower risk of induction and interventions and less need for pain relief. These benefits are particularly significant when continuous support is provided by someone who is not there as family/friend or as medical staff (i.e. a doula). Additionally, a doula is sometimes hired to work with families beyond the postpartum stages, providing continued physical and emotional support, for as long as needed (sometimes, this support can be ongoing for several years). These days most doulas will have completed some training to prepare them for the role. However, the title can be used by anyone. The goal of a doula is to ensure the mother and her partner feel safe and confident before, during, and after birth. Doulas can be controversial within medical settings due to a lack of formal medical education when a discussion regarding medical interventions in labor versus pursuing natural childbirth without an epidural or cesarean section arises, however the role of the doula is not to offer medical advice.”

The reason why I believe hiring a doula is becoming more and more popular these days lies on the fact that we are not living on a community society anymore. One of those where all the women from the same family, often from the same village, used to spend time together and support each other in tricky situations like delivery and learning to care and breastfeed their new born baby from the older generation to the young one and so on. We may deny that this rituals were deeply rooted and were playing an important part in our history as humanity, however the truth is that the need for such support is still there in our guts feelings. Thankfully we have now artificially recreated this role with a new profession to fill this gap in our basic needs, but with the difference that, if in the past this was happening more naturally, it may all feel a bit more mechanical today, being that you have to meet this new figure in your life for the first time, in the early stages of your pregnancy and you also have to discuss the financial aspect of it…

I personally have not had the chance to use their services before and I don’t know at the moment any direct friend who has and could tell me about their experience. However I wonder how would have my first delivery been different from the quite negative experience I had, if I had found out about their existence at the time and having had two completely opposite deliveries between my first and my second baby, I have also considered to train as one of them to make the most of my experience available to other women, not just my closest girl friends, more as a matter of solidarity 🙂

PS If you had a doula supporting you to deliver your baby, please comment below about how was the whole experience!


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