The role of a Birth Support Doula is to offer continuous care during labour by a woman who understands and has experience in childbirth.
Doulas nurture mums, both physically and emotionally during their labour and birth and offer help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, massage and positioning. It's a Doula's goal to help mums have a safe and satisfying childbirth experience, as defined by each individual woman and to keep the mum's outlook balanced and positive.
With dads involved commonly in antenatal classes, antenatal appointments and at the birth, we sometimes forget that the expectations of the role as a "labour coach" may be difficult to fulfill.
At times dads may not understand the mum's instinctive behavior during childbirth and may react anxiously to what a Doula knows is the normal process of birth. They may see the mum in pain and understandably become distressed.
With a Doula present at the birth, dads can share in the birth at a level they feel most comfortable with. The Doula's skills and knowledge can help them feel more relaxed. If the dad wants to provide physical comfort such as back massage, change of positions or help the mum to stay focused during contractions, the Doula can provide guidance and make suggestions for what may work best.
Doulas can help dads experience this special time with confidence by giving them emotional and physical support and reassurance, allowing them to concentrate all their energies on the mum. Doulas can also free this support person to participate in ways in which they are most comfortable without compromising the labouring mum's needs.
When a Doula is present at a birth it is shown to help shorten labour, help reduce the need for pain medication and epidurals, and lower the chances of caesarean sections. Mums report greater satisfaction with their birth experience, make more positive assessments of their babies, have more breast-feeding success and bond well with their baby.
A Doula does not replace an LMC (Lead Maternity Carer). Birth Doulas have non-medical skills. They do not perform clinical tasks, such as vaginal exams or fetal heart rate monitoring. Doulas do not diagnose medical conditions, offer second opinions, or give medical advice. The Doula is there to work alongside LMC's.
Studies have shown that babies born with Doulas present tend to have shorter hospital stays, breastfeed more easily and have more affectionate mums in the postnatal period.
The Birth Doula service is a private service, with no government subsidy provided. HB Doulas currently charges $400* for up to the first 5 hours of attending a birth. $20* per hour after that, with a cap at $460* for the whole birth.
I am currently not offering this service as my schedule has got too full. If you are keen to have a Doula present at your birth, please still inquire as I may be able to find a back up. If you live in Hawkes Bay and have worked as a Birth Doula before, I'd love to hear from you too.
* prices are subject to change, this hourly rate includes travelling costs to/from your home if you are within a 15km radius of Hastings. If you are further afield, an appropriate charge for travel can be arranged.