What is a doula?
A birth doula is a paid birth companion. They support the woman and her partner from the moment you call her, until a few hours after the birth. Everything from fetching drinks, filling birth pools, physical support for birth positions and lots of positive encouragement. Doulas help create a positive and calm atmosphere. As one client said, 'You're the first person I've spoken to who shares our excitement and joy, who isn't filled with fear.'
Research has shown that having the continuous support in labour of another woman, who has had a positive experience of birth herself, is the single biggest factor in having a straightforward birth. The presence of a doula has shown to reduce the length of labour, the amount of pain relief needed, and the chance of interventions including caesarean.
Having a doula:
Shortens first-time labour by an average of 2 hours
Decreases the chance of caesarean section by 50%
Decreases the need for pain medication
Helps fathers participate with confidence
Increases success in breastfeeding
Findings from "Mothering the Mother" Klaus, Kennell & Klaus, 1993
Thank you so much for being our doula. You are wonderful. The advice and resources you gave me beforehand helped me move from being intellectually prepared to actually READY to give birth. During the birth you just seemed to know what to do at exactly the right time - whether that be practical help, words of encouragement or just hanging back and letting us do our thing. Throughout everything you brought so much love and joy and normalcy to the process of birth I don't think we could have done it without you. Now we have a beautiful new member of the family and a wonderful experience to look back on.
I am not taking doula clients at the moment. I am available for antenatal sessions and virtual doula.
Other lovely local doulas I recommend are
Agnieszka (Polish doula)
I cover Dunstable, Luton, Bedford, Leighton Buzzard, Milton Keynes, St Albans, Hitchin and everywhere in between.
As well as home births, I have supported births at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, Milton Keynes General, Stoke Mandeville and Lister Hospital.
What does it cost?
The package can be tailored to you. It includes three antenatal sessions so we can get to know each other and you can tell me what you need and what your hopes are.
It includes my continuous presence in labour and for a few hours after, and a postnatal debrief session. I will also come to help with getting breastfeeding going if needed.
I can lend you birth ball, books, CDs. Sometimes I have a birth pool given to me to pass on to others. I have most of the accessories needed but you will need to buy a new liner and hose.
As an experienced doula I charge £750. Payment can be in installments, and partly in skill swap. Don't let the cost put you off ~ give me a call.
Please call or email to talk more. I suggest we meet and chat before you decide. I also think it's good for me to meet your other half before you book me. After all we'll all be in a team together. I am very happy to answer any questions or explore roles before you make a decision.
"At first I was sceptical about having a Doula. I didn't know what she'd do, I didn't think it would be worth the money and I was worried I would be pushed out of the birth experience. In reality I found it very reassuring to meet with someone who has attended many births especially as we had a home birth after c section which is unusual.
During the birth Catherine reassured us that everything was going as it should which was great and something that had been totally lacking from our previous experience. I didn't feel pushed out at all. Catherine sorted out the pool so I could focus on helping S and having Catherine with us actually made it easier for me to relax and focus on S and the birth without worrying.
The whole experience this time was so much better than our first birth and Catherine was a large part of that. Definitely worth the money."
As a doula I cannot guarantee a perfect birth, because there is no such thing. I can support you whatever happens. Having a doula can be really reassuring when things don't go to plan, especially for the partner. A doula can also remember the little things that are important to you.
A doula will not get between you and your midwife, or you and your partner. She is there to support you all. She will not do any of the midwife's tasks such as monitoring. If pre agreed she may make suggestions about trying a different position etc. However in my experience I have just encouraged the mother to follow her instincts. That was all that was needed.
At a recent birth the midwives gave me some lovely praise. One said I had a really calming presence, and another said she wished all women could have a doula like me.
I have just completed training in using a Rebozo shawl for comfort in pregnancy and labour.
Being a doula is one of the best jobs in the world. I love it. I have been honoured to support women at nine births now. They have included vbac at home; home birth with transfer; hospital birth with continual monitoring; water births; birth centre births, and a still birth at 20 weeks. Each one has been a complete privilege.
I have filled and emptied birth pools, poured water on to backs, mopped up sick, made tea, fetched midwives, run baths, found extra pillows and lots of other practical stuff. I have also smiled - a lot. And relaxed. And just been there, being a positive and encouraging energy.
I have given women gentle reminders that they can do it, that this is what they wanted, that they will meet there baby soon.
I have talked quietly to partners, fetched them drinks and snacks, taken their place when they've need the loo, and helped them hold their baby and do skin-to-skin. Teamwork.
I have taken photos, helped with skin-to-skin and feeding.
I have stayed behind and emptied the birth pool so the cat wouldn't fall in it.