Doulas, Uncategorized

The power of a gentle presence

When women first get in touch with us, they often have their own ideas about what a doula is, and does and the kind of people we are. Sometimes women expect a strong and forceful protector of the birth space, a “force to be reckoned with”, a fierce advocate who will take control if things go awry. Then they meet us…

Whilst I absolutely consider myself to be a strong woman, and my role is often about advocacy and protecting a birthing woman’s sacred space, the energy we bring as doulas is not fierce or forceful. We are gentle and calm and peaceful.

For some time, I wondered if I needed to find that fiery defender within me, to be a better doula, to better serve the women I work with. But along the way, I have realised that my gentle presence IS my strength. My feminine expressions: empathy, warmth, compassion, gentleness, intuition, patience, vulnerability… these are the very things that make me a strong female and shape the doula that I am.

I am embracing my femininity and appreciating its power more and more. As doulas we support and protect and advocate with a soft, feminine energy, rather than a harsher, masculine approach. By recognising and celebrating our feminine qualities, and our identities as women, we simultaneously honour the power of the labouring women we serve.

Our gentle presence at births supports the flow of oxytocin, the powerful hormone that women need in bucket loads to birth their babies. In order for physiological birth to happen, a birthing woman must feel safe and secure; as doulas we are a barometer of normality, communicating through being calm and peaceful that all is ok and that she is safe and supported.

We see the power and strength within the women that we work with and trust that they know what they need. As your doulas, we support you to own your experiences, speak your truth and advocate for yourself – we know that at times, that might mean looking to us to communicate your needs and wishes with others but we would never decide what those needs were for you.

Our culture continually encourages us to denigrate our femininity, but as doulas we see the power in the female body, in you as a birthing woman, in the women all over the world who are birthing with you. Through our gentle presence, we support you to reconnect with your true power, because owning your feminine potential can be life changing!

Doulas

5 doula myths… busted!

We often hear that doulas are only for a certain type of woman wanting a certain type of birth, but thankfully that just isn’t true! As doulas we offer support to a wide variety of women and families; women from different communities, with different needs, and planning all kinds of births. We thought we would bust some myths about doulas, what we do and who we support…

1. Isn’t a doula just like a midwife?! I don’t need both.

In short no! A doula is not just like a midwife. Each role is very distinct, and has a different place in a woman’s birthing journey.

A midwife’s job is focused on the physical well being of a woman and her baby, centred around the clinical aspects of pregnancy and birth.

Doulas on the other hand are not clinically trained, so we don’t perform clinical tasks or give medical advice – that’s where your doctor or midwife might come in! Instead we give you emotional, physical, and practical support, and signpost to relevant information, so that you can make informed choices yourself.

2. I have a birth partner already, I wouldn’t want a doula to replace them!

We love that you have a supportive birth partner, and we would never want to replace them, or interfere with the relationship you have with them. We imagine they know you better than we ever could, and that is so special and valuable – especially in the birth space.

As doulas we want to work with birth partners; supporting them to be a confident support for you. Sometimes this will look like reassurance and guidance for them, or we might take on more practical tasks so your birth partner can focus on giving you all the emotional and physical support you need. We are there to step in so they can take a break: during labour your body is flooded with all kinds of good hormones so you can stay in your birthing bubble – but it is always the cold light of day for your birth partner. It can be a huge comfort to know they are able to step out to eat, sleep, use the toilet etc. and be in the best place possible to support you.

We would hope to get to know your birth partner antenatally, and we even offer a separate meeting with them so we can really work together as a team to give you the very best support.

3. Doulas are only for women who are having a natural home birth.

Doulas are for all women and every birth! We want to support you to have whatever kind of birth you want, be that a hospital birth with pain relief, a caesarean birth, a home water birth, or anything in between.

We support your birth choices with compassion and without judgement. We want to help ensure that you feel respected throughout your pregnancy and birth, and supported in the choices you make so you can look back on your experience positively, with warmth and pride.

4. I can’t have a doula because I’m having a caesarean.

A doula can still provide invaluable support if you have a caesarean birth. Here are just some of the ways we can give support:

  • Support you to be informed about what to expect and what your options are
  • Guide you in writing your birth preferences
  • Be an advocate for you and support you in your birth choices
  • Support you pre-theatre, practically and emotionally, so you feel as relaxed as possible and looking forward to the birth of your baby
  • Be present for you, your birth partner and your baby throughout, and hold space for whatever is going on for you at the time
  • Help to facilitate skin-to-skin, bonding, and breastfeeding after birth
  • Give you practical and emotional support after your caesarean, helping with self-care and giving you the opportunity to reflect back on your birthing experience with us.

5. Doulas are too expensive!

We know that hiring a doula can be a big investment for some, but is your birth experience worth investing in?

Women who choose to invest in doula support are less likely to need an epidural, less likely to have a caesarean birth, and more likely to birth at home, with better rates of exclusive breastfeeding at six weeks compared with national average.*

Saying that, we know that the cost of doula support can be a barrier for lots of women. Whilst we still have bills to pay, and families of our own to support, we are not in this for the money – we love what we do and are passionate about supporting women. We want to be as accessible as possible for all women, so if you want our support please don’t let finances stop you from getting in touch!

http://nurturingbirth.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/MIDIRS_Research-PDF.pdf