This page contains comments and testimonials we have received from parents having recently employed a birth doula - we have kept the comments anonymous to respect the privacy of parents.
Letter from a mum who had hired a birth doula:
The doula supported me and my husband at the birth of our first baby. We had spent a lot of time planning for a homebirth and felt a Doula would help us stay relaxed and in control - since we had no idea really what to expect from labour/childbirth.
Before the birth we had a really good chance to get to know the doula and she was able to get a great understanding of what we were both like and what was important to us. I found her extremely perceptive, honest and understanding. She shared personal experiences (induction and active births) but never once tried to influence our choices which I recognise takes a special person to do.
I went into labour on a Saturday night - the doula hopped straight in a cab and was with us from very early on. As well as giving us lots of practical suggestions from my position, to managing contractions - she also helped take the pressure off of my husband but keep him completely involved as my primary support person.
After about 5 hrs of very painful contractions I wasn't coping well with the pain and decided I wanted to transfer to hospital - the doula recognised that we had both really wanted a homebirth and was great - she was supportive and didn't try to pressure me to try and stay at home as she recognised that I really did want to have stronger pain relief.
Once at the hospital, she really was fantastic - whilst helping me cope with the pain and helping me understand what was happening she jumped in whenever I needed her and supported my husband in supporting me. I was under pressure from the midwife to have my waters broken (which I didn't want) which she helped us to handle without ever telling us what we should or shouldn't do. Her knowledge of childbirth and intervention really came into its own.
I ended up actively asking for a caesarean - the doula knew I would really regret the decision, particularly as I would struggle with the recovery and being in hospital. She talked me through what having a caesarean would mean and I quickly realised it wasn't what I wanted.
Ava was born finally about 22 hrs after the doula had arrived at our home... she must have been exhausted but it didn't show. Having the doula there as added support really was the best decision my husband and I made during pregnancy... despite ending up in hospital with an epidural and eventually ventouse I feel very positive about the decisions we made and the overall experience. I felt completely supported and my husband felt supported too.
It's hard to sum up how much of a difference the doula made in both the run up to labour, the 22hrs of actual labour and the post birth support, in one word she was incredible.
In fact when Ava was just 5 days old my husband and I needed to go to a funeral and the doula was the only person I was willing to leave our precious new baby with.
I would recommend anyone to consider having a doula - it may feel like an extravagance to some but it really does make a difference to what is one of the most scary, amazing experiences of our lives.
Letter from a mum who had hired a postnatal doula:
I can't sleep and it's not just because my eight and a half months pregnant belly is keeping me awake. I'm terrified. In just a few short weeks, I was about to become somebody's mother, yet in all of my 33 years, I had held a baby only once, maybe twice. Quite simply, I had not a clue how to look after this coming baby.
My complete lack of maternal knowledge was matched only by my desperation to do something about it. And it was only by complete accident that I came across the idea of a doula. I had been told that literally translated, doula meant slave but after meeting with my doula, the words mother goddess seemed more suitable.
Although she wasn't at my birth, her appearances throughout the following weeks and days were a godsend. She would arrive and suddenly the place would be ordered. I felt calm. I felt supported. But above all, I had the feeling that she was there to mother me while I muddled through mothering Charlotte.
It was my doula who helped me say no to the queue of visitors wanting to see Charlotte. It was she who helped me stand up the barrage of opinion from other people and who, with her quiet knowledge showed me how to be with Charlotte and take my cues from her, instead of having my nose in a book. But most importantly, it was her who gave me the strength to follow my own instinct instead of battling with it. Quite simply, I cannot thank her enough.
More quotes about birth doulas
I am so pleased that we decided to use a doula for the home birth of our daughter. Outside the tremendous support during labour for both my husband and myself, the doula always seemed to phone on the days before and after the birth when I needed a little boost. It definitely helped to have a woman to express my feelings and frustrations to - what a wonderful service.
The doula throughout the pregnancy and birth was so supportive that I managed to avoid an unnecessary caesarean birth. The hospital kept telling me it was IUGR (intra uterine growth retardation) and wanted to deliver the baby at 36 weeks. If it hadn't been for the doula's support, I would have had a very small, sick baby. As it happens I went over my due date, gave birth on gas and air and had a healthy 5 1/2lbs girl.
My doula certainly enhanced my birth experience. When she arrived at my home, and later when we were reunited at the hospital, I immediately felt profound relief and experienced a drop in the level of pain, and felt reassured, comforted and more able to cope. I had not realised how preoccupied my husband would be with the other children and with organising stuff and how very little help he was in supporting my labour process. I reached full dilation with only TENS as pain relief, coping with the pain naturally. It would have been much harder without a doula.
We were introduced to the idea of doula by chance and have been very grateful for our luck. From the first evening we spent with the doula we felt so much more relaxed about becoming parents. We were asking ourselves all the questions one asks and the doula was just what was needed to guide us away from fear and doubt. To guide us in fact, to gleeful excitement and joyful pragmatism, not just through the pregnancy and labour but still now we know everything we do is OK because we subconsciously hear the doula giving us permission to just be and let nature and nurture work together with us. In short she gave us the confidence to be parents to our little girl. We always knew we could do it but to have someone else tell us we could do it was a blessing. We feel that the doula movement is emblematic of a general shift in consciousness and that our doula is a fine ambassador.
There were many positive aspects to my doula's input but if I had to isolate one I would say it was the immediate and incredible relief I felt when she walked into the room and gave me a hug. I had felt terribly frightened as labour was progressing very quickly and I knew that I was unlikely to get to hospital in time for the pain relief which I had always thought I would not be able to do without. Her manner and the practical advice she gave me made an enormous difference to how I felt both emotionally and physically.
The midwife commented several times how helpful she found the doula.
More quotes about postnatal doulas
Our doula provided invaluable advice and support both during the early days when our twins were in the Special Care Unit following their premature birth, and upon their arrival home when I felt everything was spiralling out of control, not least due to lack of sleep! Her calming influence and expertise reassured me, my husband and the babies and helped us to settle into their routine.
Not knowing how life was going to change from having one child to two, it was reassuring to have someone come in and help us all out with the transition. A friend of mine had experience of a Doula when she had twins, and from what she had described, it was exactly what I was after. I knew I didn't want someone to only look after the baby, or only look after me, I needed someone flexible to adapt to out needs as I had no idea what those needs were going to be. Our doula was fantastic. She got stuck in to whatever I asked her to do, and over the period of time she was with us, we all became very fond of her. She got down on the floor with my two year old and joined in with his games, she washed up, cooked, ironed and cleaned. She was a rod of support that I really needed at that time and I really can't imagine what life would have been like without her. She has made me more confident and passionate about breastfeeding and brought light to a very stressful time in my life. Words can't really describe how grateful I am for her friendship and support then and now.
Our doula came to help us when our third child was born, and was an absolutely invaluable help, as well as being great company. She was with us for 6 glorious weeks, and did everything from cooking (wonderful fish pies and hearty casseroles), picking up from school, trips to the library and park, ironing, tidying and generally making herself indispensable. I only had to explain anything once and it was done. She has that most important but elusive quality: initiative; for example, refusing to wake me from my desperately needed sleep if she could cope on her own (which she did, admirably). My older children (3 and 5) absolutely loved her and I would have loved her to stay for ever. It was like having my own mother here, but without the emotional baggage. She is much missed, and we hope we will keep in touch with her for a long time.
Our doula was unbelievably supportive. My family and I miss her very much. Her calming and serene approach was so welcomed. She was the family we don't have and our baby has only been cared for by her and me. His welfare mattered to the doula as much as it did to me. I don't think I could ever find such a great substitute mother again. If I have another baby I'd be asking her as soon as the baby is conceived! I hope I can be at least half the mum she is. She is a very genuine, loving, caring person who I have benefited from enormously. A huge thankyou!