Controlled trials from around the world show that the presence of a doula improves obstetric outcomes and patient satisfaction, compared with the usual hospital care without a doula.
The vast majority of midwives are caring and competent and therefore, the best model for supporting women and couples during childbirth. However, midwives can be busy with important medical checks, or simply because they are splitting their time between multiple women. In this case, the labouring mother (and her partner) may find they have a need for emotional support and stability which is not being met. The doula is able to provide this stability.
Historically, doulas have always played a role in childbirth, before hospital births became the norm. They were the wise women, the aunties, grannies, sisters and mothers who assisted the midwife at home and made sure that the labouring and new mother always felt emotionally supported and never alone.
In which ways can a doula enhance already established services?
There is so much that doulas bring to maternity services that it is surprising that doctors surgeries, hospitals and antenatal classes don’t inform pregnant women about this option in childbirth. It really is frustrating to think that the majority of the population in the UK still don’t know what a doula is and that we’ve been portrayed in TV and films as knit-your-own-yogurt type of women, dressed in long skirts and chanting as we go.
In my experience, the majority of women who become doulas are passionate about supporting women to have positive birth and parenting experiences - and what these experiences look like will differ from family to family. They come from all walks of life, all different ages and with different life experiences.
My wish is that everyone who is pregnant or who has just had a baby would find out that doulas exist - we have so much to offer!
Kicki Hansard is a member of Doula UK, however any opinions expressed on this blog are personal views and not necessarily the view of Doula UK.