Home > Birth > Pregnancy > What is a Doula and Why do I need one?

Nowadays we can hire a coach for virtually anything we want to achieve in life. Whether we want to lose 10lb weight, earn a six-figure income, or simply just get our life on track – chances are there is someone out there available with a wealth of credentials to help us reach our goals. Within the world of pregnancy and childbirth, we can think of a Birth Doula as a coach for pregnancy; a committed companion we can call upon to support us through the childbirth experience by providing emotional support as we navigate conception, pregnancy and childbirth.

The role of a doula is quite varied and no two are the same, but generally speaking, doulas assist mums to be every step of the way: offering support during the pregnancy, being present in the delivery room, and even helping during the weeks after giving birth. It’s worth mentioning that a doula will not necessarily be qualified in the medical field (in fact, many aren’t), so it’s important to know that the role of your midwife, GP and health visitor will remain vital if you do decide to hire a doula. However, they will prove invaluable in helping you feel relaxed, comfortable and confident as you head towards delivery date.

When did doulas become popular?

The word doula roughly translates into ‘women’s servant’ in ancient Greek, and it will probably come as no surprise to learn that they’ve existed for many years throughout history. They came into prominence across the pond in the US in the 80s and 90s before being imported to the UK some years later. The demand for doulas is said to have coincided with the time when hospital births began to eclipse home births and consequently women began to feel less familiar with the birthing process and started to feel more vulnerable in the delivery room. According to the independent.co.uk there were only 250 doulas registered with Doula UK only 10 years ago, but today there are thought to be over a 1000, and it’s estimated that over 5000 expectant mums now seek the services of a doula to help them get through childbirth.

How much can you expect to pay for a doula?

Although it’s difficult to give an exact figure of what you can expect to pay for a doula as its dependent on location and experience, services average between £500-£2000, and the price of a postnatal doula is believed to be around £10-35 per hour.

The benefits of hiring a doula to become part of your birth squad…

1. Emotional support at your fingertips

A doula would’ve no doubt experienced a vast number of births so is well equipped to deal with the emotional ups and downs you are likely to experience during your pregnancy. Hopefully you’ll also have strong support from your partner, family members and friends, which is awesome, but having someone who is able to be 100% attentive and always available to cater to your needs for the duration of your pregnancy (and possibly beyond) is indeed invaluable.

2. Having someone to advocate for your birth plans

Unfortunately, all too often we hear of women who feel that their choices concerning their childbirth plans aren’t often listened to by those in positions of authority. Having a doula on your birth squad will be beneficial because you’ll always have someone at hand who will really listen to what your wants and needs and will advocate for you as well as ask the right questions.

3. An extra pair of eyes and ears

Those who have experienced childbirth will know that there is no level of exhaustion that matches it. Hiring a postnatal doula will take the pressure off you by assisting you during those precious early days when you’re most likely overwhelmed with post-delivery fatigue, back-to-back night feeds, nappy changes and a constantly crying bubba.

4. Help you to feel comfortable both physically and emotionally during the birth

By the time you are due to give birth you would’ve likely built up a close relationship with your doula, and this will allow you to feel comfortable to open up about your innermost feelings regarding your pregnancy and impending birth. During the birth itself a doula often acts as your comforter who will cater to your whims and needs, whether it be a massage, music, comfy pillows and cushions or water.

5. There to support your partner and the rest of your family

You may be worried that enlisting the help of a doula will render your partner’s role within the birth of your child obsolete, but women who have opted to work with a doula will often say it’s on the contrary. The constant presence of someone with experience and a calm demeanour helps to put everyone at ease. A doula is there to be of service to the mother essentially but is also there to help the entire family.

Where can I find a doula?

Doula UK is a non-profit organisation of doulas across the UK. Visit the site at doula.org.uk/ and hit the ‘Information For Families’ tab that will take you to a search function where you can find a doula.

Based on what you love