What is a Doula?

Written by Zaina Ahmed on Saturday, 11 March 2023

There are many misconceptions on what a doula is and what service they provide. I was one of those individuals until I did the research. Throughout history women have continued to support other women physically and emotionally through the stages of pregnancy, childbirth and the fourth trimester. Over time a different type of caregiver for this journey was needed and this became the role of a doula.

A doula supports the birthing woman and provides a holistic approach to care, ensuring that they can provide up-to-date research and information. This is important for the mother before, during, after birth and the fourth trimester to ensure the most healthy and positive experience as possible. A doula not only supports the mother, but also their partner. Their aim is to facilitate the couples wishes and choices in order for them to feel empowered. By helping them use their voice, a doula can remind the couple of their options using up to date evidence-based practise. Often it is felt that doulas only support home births, however they offer support wherever a birth may take place- home, maternity led unit or labour ward. What a doula offers depends upon the families they are supporting. The level of service reflects the support that is needed by them. Majority of doulas have completed training, therefore are experienced individuals, however it is important to remember that they do not replace medical professionals, such as midwives.

There are two types of doulas: Birth and Postnatal doulas. Birth doulas tend to meet their clients at least twice (or more) prior to birth. They can become very important to the client and their family and are available to be on contact whenever concerns arise. As it says in the name, on request of their client, a doula can also be present during labour and birth. Birth doulas provide support, comfort, help with things such breathing techniques, positioning & most importantly are there to help the mother feel relaxed as possible. A postnatal doula provides support during the fourth trimester. The time needed by the client to receive support can last from a few week to even a few years. Postnatal doulas are there for the family, to help them experience a positive journey and transition into parenthood. They can help with a variety of things such as cooking meals, doing basic household chores (dishwasher, hoovering, ironing etc), caring for baby whilst the client get some time for themselves (shower, sleep etc) and helping with the school run & help take care of other siblings and much more. If this service is something you or someone you know could benefit from, please do not hesitate to contact me for more information. If you would like to research some more, Doula UK is a good place to start.