Birth & Postnatal Doula
The services offered by a doula vary greatly according to the needs of the mother-to-be / parents-to-be. A doula's role has to be flexible to fit in with the given situation e.g. the type of support will differ for a first time mum to that of a woman who has children already. Every birth is unique and therefore every woman's experience is also unique.
Before Childbirth, the doula will usually meet with the mother (or couple) twice face-to-face, and then be available by phone or for additional meetings as appropriate. The purpose is to build a good relationship with understanding and trust.
During Labour, the doula is able to offer help and suggestions on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. The doula can also encourage the father to participate in the birth to a level at which he feels comfortable.
The doula's most important role is to provide nurturing, continuous support and reassurance in helping the mother have the birth she wants. She will support the mother throughout the labour - however long.
After childbirth, the doula will follow up with a couple of postnatal visits to help the new mum settle at home with her new baby, or alternatively, the mother may decide to employ a postnatal doula for a period of (generally) 6 - 8 weeks.
What services does a Postnatal Doula offer ?
It will vary according to the mother or the family's wishes. The services include moral and practical support to the mother and family. The doula will help with breastfeeding, the housework, older siblings and baby of course. She will encourage the mother to care for herself as well as the baby. The doula can do some food shopping, prepare tea/dinner, make school runs,... A bit like if the new mother had her own mother there for a few days after the birth - to give support and help around the house.
Postnatal doulas are usually far more flexible than other (hired) postnatal support and will help the mother in the tasks that she needs most.