Doula is a Greek word meaning “servant” it is a woman serving other woman.
A doula is a birth companion who can support and “mother the mother” during labour, so that she in turn can mother her newborn. The presence of a doula works like a very powerful pain-killer, and dramatically reduces the need for medical intervention. It even reassures the baby: fetal distress is much lower!
Jill Bergman provides doula services in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, South Africa. She is registered with WOMBS in South Africa, and provides doula care according to international standards.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A DOULA?
Decreases need for
- epidurals by 60%
- caesarean by 50%
- synthetic oxytocin by 40%
- forceps assistance by 40%
- pain medication by 30%
- length of labour by 25%
(from research by Klaus and Kennell , Hofmeyr, and others)
WHAT DO I DO AS A DOULA?
BEFORE BIRTH I:
- Meet with parents to support them in their choices of childbirth
- Help parents to identify their birth wishes if needed
- Give evidence-based information about available options for childbirth
Eg. home birth, midwife delivery, waterbirth, hospital birth OR caesarean
- I explain the neuroscience of their baby’s brain growth to the parents.
DURING LABOUR I AIM TO SUPPORT MOTHER AND FATHER BY:
- Supporting mum emotionally
- helping create sense of safety for the mother -a SAFE PLACE
- helping physically and practically during labour to provide pain relief
- encouraging ACTIVE LABOUR using a ball, walking, chair, bath, etc
- -Supporting mum through labour to natural birth, or caesarean should that be needed.
- -encouraging dad to be part of the birth, and give him practical ways to help mum
- -explaining how the mum’s body is working in labour and the movement of the baby
- “translating” the medical jargon that the staff uses for the parents
- working WITH the medical staff
- supporting the mother emotionally when things don’t go as planned and the birth plan changes
- -I MOTHER THE MOTHER AT THIS CRUCIAL TIME SO THAT SHE IN TURN CAN MOTHER HER BABY, AND HELP THEM START A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP.
AS A KANGAROULA I SUPPORT THE BABY AT BIRTH BY:
- Recognizes childbirth as a key life experience that the mother will remember all her life.
- Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labour.
- Assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth
- Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman gain access to the information she needs to make good decisions.
- Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and the medical care providers.
- Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman’s memory of her birth experience.
The benefits of Doula support do not end after the labour and birth. Worldwide research shows:
- Better attachment and bonding between mother and baby.
- Reduced need for medical intervention.
- Reduced incidence of post partum depression.
- Improved mother and baby well-being.
- Positive feelings about labour and birth.
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