‘Doula is a Greek word meaning caregiver: my aim as your antenatal doula is to care for and support you and your partner to determine the type of birth you feel is right for you. I will help you to prepare for it physically and emotionally, and support your decisions respectfully. You will want to play a central part in any decision-making during the birth and this will be a fundamental requirement of your Birth Plan; should things need to be discussed and reconsidered along the way, I can partner you in this process.
I am not medically qualified so I will not undermine guidance given by your doctor or midwife, but there are information sources I can suggest if you want to research aspects for yourself. NICE is often a good place to start (online) and there are many others. There are excellent books and other resources that provide valuable information and will help you feel well prepared. You may feel as if you are drowning in advice and suggestions from well-meaning ‘experts’ so I never suggest a book, website link or film unless it is useful at that moment – things just don’t stick unless they are relevant!
I do not perform any of the tasks carried out by midwives eg vaginal examinations, nor do I prescribe medication. A doula’s role is different from that of your midwife but we often work collaboratively with mutual regard – our main aim being your and your baby’s welfare.
There is a lot to learn once you discover you are pregnant and some of it can be quite surprising. Did you know there are simple maternal exercises that can encourage your baby into an optimal foetal position, and positions you can adopt that aid pain relief and help your baby to descend during labour? What about the way you relax on the sofa while watching TV – your baby has her own ideas of comfort and these are influenced by how you sit!
There are breathing techniques to help you relax and energy-boosting drinks that help keep your mind and body calm and resilient once labour starts. I teach visualisation techniques that help you focus and switch off external distractions. It’s that glorious oxytocin coursing through you that helps labour to progress and the less you are bothered by what’s going on around you the better. (Think about how cats find a deep, dark nest away from the world where they have their kittens in ‘secret’.)
Knowing the best time to leave home if you are managing your early labour (latent phase) in familiar surroundings is something the midwives will advise you on. Going in too early can result in a frustrating and uncomfortable return journey. Having a birth doula with you is very helpful and if you decide you would like one I can advise you on how to go about locating her.
During our sessions together I will inform you thoroughly so that you know what to expect at each stage of your labour and delivery; help you to determine what pain-relieving measures are right for you (there are lots of choices); recommend practitioners for pregnancy yoga, hypnobirthing, osteopathy and other local services, and I will do my best to answer all your questions as they arise.
I will assist you to write a clear Birth Plan of your wishes and I am always happy to teach partners techniques of acupressure that significantly relieve pain during surges (contractions). Massage is very useful in labour: as well as being pain-relieving it can be a great source of comfort.
FREE INITIAL MEETING
After meeting me free of charge, if you decide you would like some antenatal sessions I will arrange these with you. These will cover, amongst other topics:
- Type of birth you are planning eg natural, birth pool, Caesarean, induction
- Place birth will take place: hospital, birth centre, home.
- There’s a wide choice for most women and the approaches can be very different.
- Writing a strong Birth Plan to go in your hospital notes
- Who will be with you
- Who will take care of any children at home: timing is important.
- Pain management during labour and birth – natural or/and pharmaceutical
- Atmosphere in the room eg dim lighting, peaceful, quiet, your choice of pre-chosen music
- Coping strategies
- Considering a birth doula and how best to find one
- What to take with to the hospital for yourselves and new baby.
- Shopping list of useful things to have in the home eg equipment, baby clothing and toiletries
- Breastcare and guidance on early breastfeeding and hand-expression of colostrum
- Useful products to help keep breasts and nipples comfortable
- Milk storage
- Breast pumps and sterilisers
- Guidance on making up formula feeds
- Responsive bottle feeding
If you would like postnatal help too, please read the Postnatal Support pages following.’