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  • Writer's pictureGillian Holmes

Why hire a doula?

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

A quick glance at the research will turn up studies from all around the world that have shown doula support around labour and birth to be instrumental in higher breastfeeding rates, lower caesarean rates, shorter labours and less use of analgesia. We’ve known this for a long time. A 1998 study even found that mothers and babies who have had doula care have more positive interactions TWO MONTHS after the birth! So… why isn’t EVERYONE hiring one?! I had a think about this recently and came up with these answers. You might know others too! Let me know!

1. It isn’t really part of our birth culture. Actually, birth is scarcely part of our culture at all. It’s been hidden away from us for such a long time, we’re barely in touch with what it is. We know it’s happening… somewhere! And it’s probably scary, right? Well, at one time, birth was a normal, domestic event, occasionally requiring a doctor to visit, or a trip to hospital, but mostly involving just the mother, a couple of midwives, and maybe a neighbour or relative, such as the soon-to-be grandmother. Once birth disappeared into hospitals, swallowed up into the framework of the highly risk-averse, fear-focused ‘medical model’, it became hidden; something to be feared, even. The idea of birth being a normal, physiological event, attended by caring people who want to support the birthing person emotionally, almost became a thing of the past. Doulas want to change that!

2. Many women and birthing people aren’t sure what doulas do! Doulas do the ‘soft’ work of looking after labouring people. Actually, we do whatever you need us to do. Antenatal preparation, practise breathing exercises, come with you to appointments or discuss them afterwards, massage, make tea and sandwiches during labour, walk your dog, help you with your positive-mental-attitude for birth, advise you on breastfeeding, hold the baby while you shower, fetch some shopping, do some housework or cooking, come out on your first solo trip to the shops…the list is as long as you need it to be. We usually visit for about 2-3 hours at a time, so there’s plenty of time to get to know us and ask any question you like under the sun!

3. Everyone thinks doulas are really expensive… Well, a doula’s fee breaks down into about £20 an hour. Is that expensive? Not really. For antenatal preparation, attendance at your labour and birth, and postnatal help, a doula charges around £900 - £1200, which is payable in instalments. How much did you spend on your last holiday? How many holidays will you take in your lifetime? The birth of a child will never be repeated, so it’s a kind of ‘once in a lifetime’ thing – even if brothers and sisters follow, their births are often influenced by the birth of the first child. And if you’ve got older kids, I probably don’t need to say too much to persuade you of the benefits of having a friendly, supportive, experienced face around when you go into labour. Go with the evidence base and allow yourself the maximum chance of a really positive birth! Do yourself and your baby a favour – and your older children, if you have them. Their experience of birth will affect their own birth experiences in the future, and those of their children – even their grandchildren. So, it’s a small investment really. Love yourself. Hire a doula.

Here are just a few of the of many studies showing the benefits of doulas that I came across!

This article says it shortens the labour process (2006)

This one says it lowers odds of caesarean birth (2014)

Again - less caesarean and forceps births, less analgesia and shorter labours (1998)

Significantly more positive interaction with her infant two months after birth ‘powerful and long lasting effect’

Check out the research yourself on Google Scholar!

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