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Community Questions - Doulas.

'Has anyone used a Doula for their birth? My sister used one and is suggesting I do too but I'm not sure what they do! Any advice please mamas!'

Doulas support mums throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum through emotional support, information and practical tips. There is evidence that having a doula present for your birth could improve the outcome for both mum and baby however doulas are not a necessity for every mum.

Doulas have a different offering to midwives and doctors and although they support the birth process, they do not have a clinical role. There are a small amount of doulas working for the NHS but generally speaking, the parents employ their doula separately so there is an added cost for the service which may not be suited to you and your family. You may also feel supported enough by your midwife and feel that a doula isn't necessary for you - it's different for every mum.

There are doulas who support mums through the birth only, who support mums through pregnancy, birth and postpartum and also postnatal doulas - if you are thinking about hiring a doula, do your research and see which may work best for you and your family.

A brief overview of the different types of doula roles although this may vary from person to person:

Antenatal Doulas - supporting mums throughout their pregnancy and their birth whether that be hospital birth, caesarean birth, home birth, water birth. Generally, antenatal doulas meet with mum and or family twice before the birth, offer support on the phone and on email and enable mum to ask any questions she may have about the birth process and any concerns she may have. Antenatal doulas go 'on call' towards the end of pregnancy, from around 37 weeks and will be available for mum and or family 24/7 - heading to the families home during labour (when requested) and often before mum has been transferred to her place of birth.

During birth, doulas often suggest relaxation techniques, offer emotional support, ensure mum is as comfortable as possible, reassurance and be 100% present with mum throughout her labour. Generally, doulas will stay with mum and baby post birth until mum is feeling confident, comfortable and settled. Generally antenatal doulas will do one postpartum visit to check in on mum and baby, answer any questions and help with infant feeding if required.

Postnatal Doulas - supporting mums throughout their postpartum journey - usually from 4 weeks after birth although this can vary depending on what mum wants. Postnatal doulas offer emotional support, reassurance, information and answer any questions mum may have as well as offer general support to the family. It's all dependent on what mum wants and needs from her postnatal doula, so the offering will vary from family to family. Postnatal doulas support mum throughout her postpartum journey, as opposed to taking care of baby.

We hope that helps! Always do your research, remember whether you choose to hire a doula or not is entirely up to you and although it may have been helpful for your sister, it may not work for you! It also depends on the relationship you have with your midwife if you feel supported enough by them or not and a number of other factors!

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