With all eyes on the impending arrival of the next royal baby, it has come as a surprise to some to learn that the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle and her husband Prince Harry, have decided to hire a doula. But what exactly is a doula?
The word doula comes from the Greek word doule but now it has taken on the meaning of a female companion, whose primary role is to offer support to mothers during pregnancy, and during the postpartum, or fourth trimester period. Your birth doula is on 24hr call from week 37 until week 42, so whether your baby decides to make an early entry, or be fashionably late, you can count on their support whenever you need it.
a familiar face can be very comforting and is proven to help parents have a more positive birthing experience.
When you go into labour a doula will be there to support you and your birthing partner; providing physical comfort measures, such as massage, relaxation and positioning. They also provide emotional support for both parents, offering reassurance and encouragement, and whatever else is needed on the day.
A maternity system can be a very busy place, so having a doula present who has supported you throughout your pregnancy, and is a familiar face, can be very comforting and is proven to help parents have a more positive birthing experience.
Positive and empowering birth experience
Throughout your pregnancy, your doula is at the end of the phone when needed with informational support - which can involve information gathering and explanation of procedures throughout pregnancy and during birth. They will then stay with you throughout your labour and for some time after the birth, to continue the process of support and to help get mum and baby off to a great start. Most recent evidence has found that women who have continuous support from a doula were less likely to have interventions in their labour, and less likely to have a Caesarean birth. Both resulting in women reporting a more positive and empowering birth experience.
By having a doula present birth partners become more confident with all the information and reassurance provided, less overwhelmed and more effective in their ability to support the labouring mother.
Should you need, or indeed want an epidural, your doula still has a role to play. Perhaps your partner needs a break, or mum is feeling anxious. Your doula will also have tools to help assist an epidural birth, such as the peanut ball. And with a Caesarean birth a doula will provide emotional support, as well as assisting mum post surgery, helping her out o the bed to shower and to feed and change her baby.
Often the woman’s birth partner will worry that if the couple hire a doula they will be left out. However, a doula can be a fantastic resource for your birth partner as well. They can support and guide your partner offering them knowledge, information and tools to help you during your labour. Dads and same-sex spouses are some of doulas biggest fans! Many women feel a strong need to have their partners present because of the strong emotional bond they share. Sometimes however, the partner can feel anxious or stressed by the responsibility they feel towards their loved one as they advance through labour. By having a doula present birth partners become more confident with all the information and reassurance provided, less overwhelmed and more effective in their ability to support the labouring mother. Having a doula there can also enable your partner to take a break - even just to go to the toilet or get some food.
After baby arrives many families choose to hire a postpartum doula to help as they adjust to life with a new baby. Your Postpartum doula comes into your home and offers practical support (cooking dinners, holding baby while you shower), emotional support (sitting and listening to you if you need to chat, reassuring you and comforting you), as well as offering up to date and evidence-based information on how to care for your new baby. Perhaps Meghan’s doula will also offer postpartum support to the new family - as no matter whether you are a Duchess or a regular Mum, becoming a new parent can be overwhelming for everyone.
So, how does one go about choosing their doula?
There are a couple of options. A Mum and her partner may seek out a doula independently, interviewing a few before they select one. Or, they can enlist the services of Ireland's only doula agency, DoulaCare Ireland. They are the only organisation in Ireland with doulas who are Garda vetted, and doulas with the agency are all expected to have insurance and partake in continuous training every year to update their skills and knowledge base.
Furthermore their partnership with Irish Life Health means you may be able to avail of doula support through DoulaCare Ireland which is covered by your insurance policy.
Header image: @KensingtonRoyal
DoulaCare Ireland work with each couple to match them with their perfect doula. And with over 30 doulas on their books, there is someone for everyone. Doula Care Ireland offer birth and postpartum support to families around Ireland. They have grown over the last year, to a team of over 30 doulas and are continuing to expand throughout the country. They have an in-depth knowledge of each of their doulas, their skill set and personality and allow them to find the right doula for your family.
Ireland References here