What Does A Doula Do?

Doula Sarah Marsden holds the hand of a client during a birth at Nottingham City Hospital.

It’s World Doula Week and today is World Doula Day!  Yippee!!!  But, why would you want a doula?  

Well, the evidence suggests that, amongst other things, having a doula increases the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal births, that the requirement for extra pain relief is reduced, that women are less likely to come out of their births with negative feelings around childbirth, that labours are on average around 40 minutes shorter than a labour without a doula and that babies birthed with the support of a doula were less likely to have a low Apgar score.   Pretty great huh?  

But what does a doula do?  As a doula I have done the following:

Provided evidence based informations surrounding various pregnancy and birthing scenarios.

Attended consultant appointments with clients. 

Held the hand of many women.

Rubbed backs.

Made drinks for birthing partners and midwives.

Helped filled pools and keep the temperature just so.

Helped women in and out of pools both before and after having a baby.

Emptied birth pools.

Cleaned up post birth and put laundry into the washing machine.

Held and emptied sick buckets.

Wiped away tears.

Sent dads to get some food and rest when their energy was giving out so they were better equipped to greet their newborn and support mum in the days that followed the birth.  

Supported the initial breast feeding journey.  

Helped women into the shower.

Fetched clean underwear and pads.

Filled hot water bottles.

Washed dishes. 

Made food.

Held space.

Diffused oils.  

Looked deep into the eyes of women who started to lose their way in the maze of birth to remind them of the birthing goddess within each one of them.

Stood in theatres as birth plans took a slight detour.  

Made placenta smoothies and encapsulated placentas.

Advocated for birth plans.

Documented births and post-partum through photography.

Ridden in ambulances with clients who’ve transferred into hospital for various reasons.  

Advocated for clients to receive care from medical staff who are compassionate and empathetic.  

Supported mums through some scary initial moments post-birth.

Rubbed cramps out of legs.

Assured woman that various things/feelings were totally normal and that they aren’t alone.

Reminded women to listen to their body and just go with what they’re feeling.

Marvelled every time at the transformation that takes place when a baby and a mother are united earthside.

Driven home to my own family with a full and thankful heart after each birth at having had the honour of being welcomed into such a sacred space.

These are just some of the things that come to mind.  It’s a wonderful vocation and one I never take for granted.  It never grows old or boring, and every time a baby is born and a family is created or expanded is as miraculous and beautiful as the times before, but every time it is always unique in its own special way.  

So now you know a little bit more about what doulas do, would you hire one?  Just keep in mind there is zero evidence to suggest that there are any negatives to having someone on your side and in your corner who is their to support you and your partner through one of the most life changing events you will ever face, so you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.   :D 

If you have hired a doula for your own birth what was the most beneficial thing about having one?