Seven Myths about What Doulas Do

Photo Credit Chayene Rafaela

Photo Credit Chayene Rafaela

Doulas are getting a lot of publicity of late, thanks to reports that Meghan Markle is preparing for her birth in a less traditional way than the Royals usually do. It’s wonderful to have lots of press about doulas, but they are often written about as a hippy-dippy caricature. Let’s talk about some of the myths about doulas:

Doulas Aren’t Just Handholders

Call me a snowflake, but I was a little offended to read doulas described as ‘specialist hand-holders’ in The Sun this week. It’s so much more than that. A doula gets to know a couple beforehand, and understands their birth preferences. She’ll be armed with information and resources to help you with decision-making. Each doula has a personalised skill-set of things that help to make you feel comfortable and ease stress and discomfort, whether through touch, body positions, breathing or acupuncture. A doula can keep you calm or make you laugh or help you to dig deep and find strength when you’re flagging. And at the simplest, yet most profound level, a doula holds space for you to have your experience.

Doulas Are Not Just for ‘Natural’ Births

There’s often a misconception in the ‘birth world’ that the gold standard is a quick, drug-free natural birth. A doula is there to represent you, not come armed with her own agenda. Sometimes the longest, most challenging births are the ones where I feel I’ve made the most difference as a doula. In these situations you become a constant through the blurry hours of labour, and frequent shift changes of midwives and doctors. And if you choose to have an elective caesarean birth, you can still have a doula to support you.

Doulas Are Not Just for Wealthy Women

Every woman deserves to have a positive, safe birth experience. Yes it’s a paid service to have a doula, but there are ways of making it affordable.

Bear in mind that your doula is ‘on call’ for 4-5 weeks , 24 hours a day and will be with you during the birth until your baby arrives. If you work it out as an hourly rate, you’ll soon realise that it’s certainly value for money. Doulas may offer payment plans and you can ask loved ones to contribute to a doula fund rather than overload you with baby clutter. Alternatively, you could hire a doula in training for a greatly reduced fee.

Doulas Aren’t All Hippies 

There’s a doula for every type of woman. It’s a chemistry thing so it’s important to choose someone you connect with. Doulas may be mums that want to help others have a positive experience, or have complementary skills such as bodywork or hypno-birthing. Doulas can be as comfortable reading the NICE Guidelines as using a birth homeopathy kit.

Doulas Are Great Even if You Have a Birth Partner

Doulas don’t replace partners, they make a valuable addition to your team. A doula can relay with your partner to both be fed and rested and focus on you. A doula can show ways to help you be supported, whether a change of position or gentle pressure on your back. A doula can help to calm the partner, which is important as the birthing hormone oxytocin is inhibited by cortisol. 

Doulas Don’t Just Support Home Births

You can find doulas in birth centres and labour wards. Whilst home births can be a great option for many women, a doula will support you in the environment that you choose.

Doulas Aren’t Just For First-time Mums

All too often the second birth gets a lot less time for preparation when there’s an older child to tend to. The previous birth may have been traumatic, in which case the next birth is an opportunity for healing and resolution. In these situations a doula can help to make a plan and process the birth. 

For more information about my doula services, have a read here.

I’m proud to be a member of Abuela Doulas, a collective of doulas for all women that particularly respects diverse cultures and traditions.