We are happy to have teamed up with London–based Pregnancy Massage Specialist, Doula and Baby Massage Instructor Eleonora Lawson who wrote the article below, explaining how having a Doula with you during labour can be beneficial for a positive birth experience.
WHAT IS A DOULA?
More and more natural labour is at the centre of attention, not only for mamas who wish to be empowered during the beautiful journey of pregnancy and birth, but also from the media after the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, chose to give birth without the use of drugs. Congratulations Kate!
Nowadays there is increasing research-based evidence proving how beneficial support from a Doula or Child Birth Companion really is.
Doulas can provide continuous, quality one-to-one care that will guide you and your partner/family towards achieving a positive birth experience.
Birth companions are not medically trained, but are often knowledgeable about the NHS system and medical procedures, as well as experienced in attending births. Doulas can offer emotional and practical support in preparation to birth, during labour and in the early days into parenthood.
The biggest source of evidence-based healthcare in the world, The Cochrane Collaboration examined 23 research trials in 16 different countries, involving more than 15,000 women in different settings and circumstances. The study concluded:
“Continuous support in labour increased the chance of a spontaneous vaginal birth, had no harm, and women were more satisfied.”
“We conclude that all women should have continuous support during labour. Continuous support from a person who is present solely to provide support, is not a member of the woman’s social network, is experienced in providing labour support, and has at least a modest amount of training, appears to be most beneficial.”
This continuous support is now more important than ever due to a shortage of midwives, coupled with an overloaded NHS system, where it is likely that the midwife assigned to you on the day has to look after numerous mamas. It is also possible that you will have different midwives looking after you at different times during your labour as they work in shifts.
Your Doula guarantees continuity of care so you will never feel alone. Likewise, your partner/or member of family can also be supported and take time to rest. The doula is not there to replace his/her role, rather to complement it with the experience of having attending many previous births.
From my personal, direct experience, and from talking to other colleagues, having a Doula present during the birth of your baby is the best guarantee you can have a positive birth experience.
I actually would like to dispel a (possible) myth here: the doula is not there to persuade you to give birth in any particular way, to labour without drugs or medical intervention at all costs! That is not what a doula does!
Sometimes medical interventions occur and, at other times, could be necessary or life saving.
We are there to support you emotionally and to help you make your decisions; whether it is going to be a natural labour or with medical assistance.
A doula can not only help you choose the right birth place for you, explore your birth wishes, help with active birth positions, breathing and relaxation techniques (to name just a few things) but can also help you to understand options, so you can make an informed choice. This has been shown to improve the birth experience. Additionally, your doula will make sure you are hydrated, fed, rested and comfortable, as well as taking care of other practicalities.
Ultimately your doula is there to help you prepare for the birth YOU want.
FIND OUT ABOUT DOULAS IN LONDON
Come and meet Eleonora, and soon other doulas, at Nappy Ever After for free informal evenings on the topic ‘FIND OUT ABOUT DOULAS IN LONDON’.
An opportunity to find out what doulas actually do and have your questions answered!
WHEN: First Wednesday of every month at 6pm
WHERE: Nappy Ever After, 96 Chalton St, London, NW1 1HJ
For more information about Eleanora, see her website http://lifetouchmassage.co.uk/doula-north-london