Frequently Asked Questions
A doula is a trained, non-medical birth professional. We provide emotional, practical and informational support. We can help pregnant people from any time in early pregnancy right through the fourth trimester. A doula does not diagnose or examine, but we do have an excellent knowledge base on all things birth and baby.
There can be specific types of doula role—some will be only a birth doula, some will be just post-natal, and some will be both like me!
Although midwives and doulas offer support to people through the birth process and beyond, they have very different roles.
The aim of hiring a doula is for you to have a fully-rounded support package alongside your midwife. Your doula cannot medically diagnose, but we can be there to support you mentally and physically and provide you with any evidence-based information on topics of interest based on your circumstances.
A midwife’s focus is to help you safely birth your baby and provide any medical treatment that is necessary to keep you and your baby safe and sound. We work together as a team to make sure that you, your family, and your baby have a complete package of care through pregnancy, birth, and postnatally.
No—we are there to support partners and ensure they are involved in the way you both want. We can take the stress off the partner having to juggle everything in labour. We can liaise between you and the medical staff in the hospital whilst your partner supports you by your side. We can help set up birth pools, make phone calls or answer doors if you have a home birth to enable them to be by your side. Or perhaps it’s your partner that prefers to do the practical things, and you both want your doula to be there to support you in labour with affirmations, birthing positions & massage.
We work with each family to make sure we are not stepping on anyone’s toes, and we are exactly where you both need us to be! After all, we are there to support the partners emotionally as well. Labour can be a tiring and emotionally draining time for birth partners. They do not want to burden the labouring person with their worries or thoughts, and the midwife is there to help you birth your baby, not support your chosen birthing partner. We can be that person the birthing partner can talk to to help alleviate any stresses and make the environment as calm as possible.
It’s the same postnatally—we are there to help fill the gap, whether that be when your partner goes back to work to help assist, or if your partner is struggling emotionally, we are there for them too.
Whenever you feel you need the extra support. Some parents feel like this is early on, especially if they have suffered a previous loss, sometimes because they have had IVF, and sometimes just because they want early support. Other parents don’t contact a doula until halfway through their pregnancies, or some people decide after the birth that they need additional support post-birth.
No, a doula does not make decisions on your behalf. We communicate with you and discuss what you want to get out of your birth if we work with you as a birth doula, or discuss a post-natal plan if we are working with you postnatally.
If you are unsure about your options or what decision is the right one to make, we provide you with the most up-to-date evidence-based information to look through your options and come to the best decisions for you and your family. We are then there to support you physically and mentally throughout this process.
There are many benefits of hiring a doula, some of which we have touched on above.
There have also been many research studies on the benefits of hiring a doula. Doula UK’s website has a brilliant page on this, listing the advantages and linking to all of the evidence-based research studies carried out.
- Reduced incidence of caesarean birth.
- Reduced risk of instrumental delivery.
- Reduced need for painkillers or epidural during labour.
- Reduced rate of induction of labour.
- Shorter labour.
- Increased parental satisfaction with the birth experience.
- Increased likelihood of initiating breastfeeding.
- Increased chance of successfully establishing breastfeeding and breastfeeding at six weeks.
- Lower incidence of depressive symptoms.
- Improved equity and the provision of culturally responsive care.
If you would like to read more doula-related research, please visit doula.org.uk/research.