Hi all, Meaghan here, your Birth and Postnatal Doula from Holding the Space Births.
Doula. It’s an odd word isn’t it? Most often when I tell people I am a doula, I receive a confused look back, or get ‘huh? A jeweller?’ to which I patiently explain who a doula is and what they do (note: I don’t know if also half the time they are confused by my half Canadian/half-Aussie and supposedly half-Irish accent, when they hear me speak this word).
I must say though, since becoming a doula in the last few years, I definitely hear and see the term in more volume – perhaps this is because I am attuned to it, or perhaps our society is finally waking up to the benefits of what having a trained birth support person looks like. Either way, as a doula, it brings me great hope and excitement for the future of our birthing culture, but… there is still a long way to go.
Before I get ahead of myself here, I will give you a brief little ditty on what a doula is. A Birth Doula is a support person for women and their partners in pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. She provides informational, physical and emotional support for the woman as she transitions towards a pivotal role in her life, motherhood. A doula is there to ‘hold space’ for the woman, protecting her and advocating for her birth choices. While not medically trained, she is well-versed in the medical arena, being able to translate medical information provided by caregivers.
A doula is there to ‘hold space’ for the woman, protecting her and advocating for her birth choices.
One of the reasons why I became a doula was to ensure that no woman ever feels alone or unsupported when she is going through such an important time in her life. It has been shown that women who hire a doula to support them in their births are more likely to have an overall better birthing outcome, including less interventions, shorter labours, and have a more successful breastfeeding and postnatal experience.
Continuity of care throughout pregnancy and birth is one of the key components in supporting women to have a positive birth experience. Unfortunately, within our current system in Australia, in-hospital midwifery continuity of care models though while very popular, can be very difficult to get into, as most often there is a waitlist. Other than hiring a private midwife to birth at home, or having an obstetrician in hospital (both of which can be expensive), hiring a Doula is another great option as she can provide the ongoing support needed for the woman. There are so many options budget-wise for doula support, including student doulas which can be found in places like the Australian Doula College.
Doulas are there to serve YOU, not a hospital, and are there to support the birthing mum’s choices, without judgement.
As a Doula, I feel that one of the biggest things missing in our current childbirth culture is the feeling of confidence and assurance in a woman’s ability to birth her child. Time after time, I hear stories where women I know have been subjected to bad policies, bullying, and fear mongering all because they lacked the correct information and support needed to feel that they had a say in their births. In our broken system, most often a woman’s power is taken away- and I can say from my own experience with my first birth, this can happen all too easily.
A Birth Doula is a support person for women and their partners in pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.
Most recently, one of my own passion projects as a Doula has been to create the Birth Mama Yoga program, an online and in-person course designed to empower birthing women in their pregnancy journeys, discussing topics like pain relief, birth positions and preparing for unexpected outcomes. I’ve teamed up with a very special friend and prenatal yoga instructor to combine prenatal yoga with these important birth topics to give women a starting point on their journey to feeling empowered in their birthing experience. It is a stepping stone for women to then take matters into their own hands, either then by hiring a doula, and/or researching their rights and options within our current system. The bonus of including yoga is that both mind and body are strengthened, a skill handy for the intensity of birth.
I have yet to meet a person who has regretted having a doula for their birth, and do I dare say that I would find it difficult to find one that has. Having someone in your corner, encouraging you when things get tough, knowing what skills to use to help you push through, taking the pressure off your partner to have to do all of the work (and let’s face it- it’s a big ask of one person) is an invaluable gift that a person could have in their birthing journey.
I know I’m a little biased, but the proof is in the pudding, just look at the statistics and they speak for themselves. As we head into World Doula Week, let us celebrate all the good work our Doulas do, and celebrate also the reason for our work, the beautiful soon-to-be mothers and the amazing, wonderous thing that is the female body.
Thanks for reading! X
PS- If you are looking for a Doula, or would like some more information, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my Instagram pages @holdingthespacebirths and @birthmamayoga
Some great resources and further info: