What is a doula?

Photo of doula and babyNew motherhood . . .  the romanticised image often portrayed, can often be a far cry from the reality.

Today's mother is generally not given the chance to enjoy her pregnancy, labour and new baby because of the pressures that society places upon her.

"Doula" (pronounced "doola") is a Greek word meaning "woman servant or caregiver". It now refers to an experienced woman who offers emotional and practical support to a woman (or couple) before, during and after childbirth. A doula believes in “mothering the mother” - enabling a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered time that she can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new mum. This type of support also helps the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience.

Nowadays most doulas undertake some training.  Birth doulas are experienced in childbirth, although they may or may not have given birth themselves. They have a good knowledge and awareness of female physiology BUT the doula is not supporting the mother in a clinical role - that is the job of the midwife/medical staff.

Postnatal doulas work flexible hours to suit the family, offering practical and emotional support to the new mother and father in the home following the birth of baby.

In the West today, too often mothers are rushed back into normal day-to-day activities; in many cultures women are confined to bed and rest for a period of up to 40 days. This may be impossible in our society but with the help of a postnatal doula, a mother can enjoy some of the benefits of a prolonged "lying in" period. This will help her bond with her baby and spend extra time with any older siblings. Our work is about empowering a family to take care of itself and we facilitate this by helping around the house and offering encouragement and suggestions.

All Doula UK doulas have taken a Doula UK approved course and are either being mentored (i.e. new doulas working towards 'recognition') or are Recognised Doula UK doulas.

Search for a doula here.