A Doula - what is that exactly?


Author - Jemma @ Stiletto Strollers.

Are you expecting a baby or know someone that is? 

Have you heard the term Doula but you're not sure exactly what it is or how it might benefit you?

I've teamed up with the lovely Jemma from Stiletto Strollers. Jemma  is a Doula and Hypnobirthing teacher based in London and Surrey. Here Jemma tells us what a Doula is, when you might need one and the services she can offer her clients. 

What is a Doula?

Whenever I tell people that I am a doula I’m often greeted with quizzical looks or comments like “ummmm ok, sorry what is a doula?” And I always respond with the same line, “a doula is there to mother the mother”. At which point either eyes are rolled, or people want to know more. My response is normally something like this ….. “A doula is a knowledgeable, often trained (but not medically) person that helps you at the time around childbirth, though you can also get end of life and divorce doulas. As a birth and postnatal doula, I can either be there to support you in the run up and during birth and/or postnatally.”

Another thing you have with a doula is an advocate, you’ll have one or two meetings beforehand to discuss your birth wishes and any worries then we’re someone who not only supports you, but we’re a friend and can help to empower you/your partner to ask questions and push for your wishes to be adhered to.

It’s not a one size fits all, the role is different for every mother and every birth, I recently read a fantastic quote that sums it up perfectly – “A doula isn't a superhero that flies in to save the day, they come and tie your cape so that you can do it yourself.”  We support mothers and help to give them and their partners confidence during an often unknown situation.  From emotional support, to education and sharing our knowledge, or sharing our contacts to physical support in labour. It’s recognised by the NICE guidelines that continuity of care increases positive birth outcomes, and although a doula is not medically trained and would never replace a midwife, studies have shown that by having a birth doula the likelihood of a positive birth experience is increased.

At what stage should you look to hire a Doula?

You can hire a doula at any stage, I supported a lady who was going through IVF to conceive and have also been called a week before the baby was due. There is no ‘right’ time, but it does often work best when you have time to build a relationship and get to know each other. Often doulas are in demand and I limit the number of couples I take on to ensure I get some rest between births, so if you have seen someone you are interested in supporting you I would make contact and have a chat sooner rather than later.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about a Doula but is still not sure if it's right for them?

Oh, I could go on for hours about this, but I’ll try and keep it to the point for you. Firstly, people expect us all to be old croc wearing hippies, which we’re not. I think that might be why people are surprised when I tell them my job. I’ve found there are two main thoughts that people have, it’s either that doulas are only for rich people or that they are only for home births. Neither of which is the case. I’ve supported every type of birth from a caesarean to a home water birth and all the ones in the middle…. The cost of hiring a doula starts from around £800, which is the same as many buggies you’ll use for a couple of years. For a day you’ll remember for the rest of your life isn’t it worth it?

The dictionary definition of a doula is:

A woman, typically without formal obstetric training, who is employed to provide guidance and support to a pregnant woman during labour.

That’s what we do and a whole lot more…..

Where do you find out more about a Doula or Hypnobirthing course?

I find lots of people hear about me via friends, though people also follow my Instagram page and find me online. @stilettostostrollers or there are also doula search sites such as Doula UK, Find a Doula and the Doula Directory.

What do you love most about your job?

I still cry every time I see a mother hold her baby for the first time. Just knowing you might have made that day a little bit easier for them is wonderful. I literally float out of so many births on cloud 9 because women are amazing!

I truly believe that knowledge is power, and it’s astonishing how little education we receive about our own bodies and how they really work. By understanding how pregnancy, birth and recovery actually unfolds we can work with what nature has already created rather than trying to overpower it. I went into this career because I want more women to have empowering, positive birth experiences and to do that they need support, knowledge and confidence.

Have you been able to provide the same service during the pandemic?

Mostly, like many businesses, I have enhanced my services so that I can still work with parents irrelevant of what is happening at the current time. I’ve added an emergency doula support option, so if your planned birth partner becomes ill you can call me at late notice and if I’m available I will come and support you. There is also a virtual doula option when I support you via phone, facetime, message. I have moved my hypnobirthing courses online and also added zoom antenatal sessions to talk through anything, as many parents are more nervous about having their baby at this time

What else does Stilettos to Strollers offer?

I like to think STS is the ultimate support for parents, so the services reflect that. Antenatal education, birth support, birth trauma help and a blog that shares resources and information for new mothers.

What key message would you like to share with women who are pregnant and/or considering using a Doula?

This is your birth, do you it your way. There is too much ‘I wasn’t allowed’ in birth stories I hear. So, choose to replace fear with confidence, preconceived ideas with facts and become empowered to take charge of how you want to birth your baby. That’s what a supportive doula can help you do.

A big thank you to Jemma for sharing her knowledge. You can find out more by visiting her website here 

#doula #hypnobirthing #newbaby #expecting