Recently, a few of my clients have hired doulas, so I thought it’d be nice to catch up with local doula Grace Collins over coffee and cake and find out more about what being a doula actually involves.
What is a doula?
A doula is a birth attendant/companion who is there to care for the expectant mother and her partner in labour and the early postnatal period.
Doulas provide continuous support through pregnancy, birth and the early days of parenthood. To be there for the couple, to protect the birth space, to be attentive to the couple’s needs, to help them feel confident in their choices, and to help them adjust afterwards to life as a bigger family, that is what being a doula is all about.
Why did you become a doula?
Every mother will remember how she was made to feel during the birth of each of her children.
I became a doula because I feel strongly about supporting couples on their journey to becoming parents. Ultimately to help ease them through the birth process and to enable them to have a more positive birth experience, so that they can look back and know that they have come through it and done amazingly well.
What do you love about being a doula?
Being with the parents and helping make the birth and the early postnatal period a bit less daunting.
Can you tell me about one or two favourite work memories?
Being there for a mother having a vaginal birth after a c-section, seeing her develop confidence in her ability to birth, while she delivered a 9lb 12 oz baby naturally, and seeing her flourish afterwards.
Also being there for a single mother during a long and drawn out labour and seeing her pull through in the end with a very positive birth.
I also love receiving photos of the babies and the families I have supported, both during birth and postnatally.
What makes a good doula?
Any person who is friendly, caring, attentive and willing to work behind the scene will make a good doula. “Doulaing” is about being, and not so much about doing.
What would you say to someone who is scared about being pregnant/birth/being a parent?
Birth is a rite of passage, it can be smooth and it can be unpredictable and raw. However, with the continual support of someone who knows birth and understands its ebb and flow, birth becomes a far less daunting experience. Prepare well, be informed and do your research.
What’s it like being present as new life enters the world?
It is always a privilege and an honour to be there when a new life enters this world, words really don’t do it justice.
I always say a blessing and wonder what difference these lovely babies will make to the world around us as they are growing and developing.
What top tips would you pass onto new mums to help during those first weeks with a newborn?
In the early days after birth, carry your baby as much as you can. For it is in your arms that they feel safe and loved.
At this point in time babies don’t understand cots and flat surfaces that is why you feel that you can’t put them down, get a sling, sleep when they sleep and don’t hesitate to ask for help and food from family and friends.
To find out more about Grace and other doulas head to this website: Doula Uk
Grace, also runs the Reading positive birth group