Doula UK Philosophy
Doula UK is a network of doulas. We believe that all people should have the opportunity to be a doula and should have access to the services of one. In the past it was more common for a relative to help a new parent on their journey. These people were not trained but were experienced in life and offered nurturing and support. In the same way, a doula’s support comes directly from the heart and wisdom of that individual.
Potentially every person, whether trained or not, can support a woman or birthing person antenatally, during labour, birth and in the postnatal period. How well they do this depends on their personal maturity, knowledge and unique view of pregnancy, birth and parenthood. The main tool doulas have, are themselves!
Before, during and after the birth it is first and foremost a doula’s presence that should make the birthing person or new parent feel safe. Whilst we recognise that to be a doula, it may be easier for those who have had the experience of giving birth, chest/breastfeeding and rearing children, we also realise that there are some people who do not have this experience who can be wonderfully nurturing doulas. We believe that pregnant people, as well as new parents, should be able to choose the doula with whom they are most comfortable.
The doula role, we believe, is a way of “being” not “doing”. A “training” implies completion and it is not useful to believe that a person can attend a two- or three-day workshop or training course and believe that they are a doula. Doulas are learners, they are explorers, they are guides, friends, sharers, it goes on and on. Without an open approach to self-development and human growth it is impossible to be available to enable others. Within a doula’s education there must be a deep concentration and focus on self-awareness and any person entering the profession is required to spend a lot of time reflecting.
Although comments such as “I couldn’t have done it without you” may be flattering, what we want birthing people to be able to say is “you enabled me to do it myself”. We must remember that we are there to safeguard the emotional memory of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. A doula is not a “coach” who tells those that are birthing what or what not to do either during the birth or postnatally as this is, in essence, disempowering. A doula’s practical tools must be used wisely to help create an environment conducive to bringing forth a new life and to cherishing it.
The doula’s role can be described as supporting the birthing person and new parents holistically. The doula is employed primarily by the woman or birthing person and their partner (if they have one) or new parents to listen, support and respond to their needs. The doula is not there to replace or exclude the partner or other family members or to intrude on these relationships. The doula’s actions are never driven by their ego but by sensitivity and unconditional love.
Doulas do not give any medical advice but they should have a good understanding of the physiology of birth and the postnatal period so can provide support to help the birthing person and new parents find solutions when they need guidance. This distinction between advice and support is important.
The members of our network have come to be doulas through a variety of journeys. All are passionate about their work. We do not want doulas to add another layer of “professionalism” to an already overloaded maternity system. There are as many different doulas as there are people; indeed, there is not a typical doula, but in every case, we hope you will find a doula with their heart in the right place.
For a doula it is a privilege to share the “everyday miracle” of birth and the days surrounding that time.
Last reviewed December 2020.