I'm going to be a Doula….LONG PAUSE…. A what? Whilst using a Doula is becoming more and more popular I find many people have not heard of one before. Surprisingly though Doula’s are becoming more and more in demand. The dictionary states that a Doula assists women during childbirth and after labour. The Modern Greek origin of Doula however is female servant [Well I am a mum to a toddler surely that fits that description well]. How I like to explain it however is that I will be offering physical and mental support during labour and most importantly mental support before and after the birth. A professional birth partner. An on call for all your non medical labour requirements partner. I'll pack the heat pack and the rainforest sounds if you want them partner. Whether you are having a home birth or a hospital birth a Doula can support you, reassure you that everything is normal and help keep an eye on the pattern of sensations so you can focus on birthing. I have so much to learn in my 20 week course but I know that generally when someone hires a Doula it is 2 pre natal appointments, being on call for labour or a scheduled C section and 2 post natal appointments.
I have always been fascinated by the labour process. Self confessed one born every minute addict and the flight attendant who would often declare “if anyone goes into labour – I’ve got this!”. When I became pregnant whilst sadly not enjoying pregnancy itself [what a let down!] I loved the process of the appointments and was actually excited for labour. Whilst the most intense, unrelenting and painful experience of my life it was by far the most amazing and I am so excited to do it again. Next time however I want to be more prepared and focused. The Doula appointments before labour will be to build a relationship and to discuss any expectations of me. I want the mother and anyone else going to be at the birth to feel comfortable with me. To know that my plan is to help them with their plan. Every women has an idea in their head on how they would like their birth to go in an ideal world. Some women want a completely natural (isn’t the process of delivering a baby no matter how natural? A natural and beautiful thing), some women want the comfort of a scheduled caesarean and some have no plan. Whilst I certainly respect the ideas that a plan is a nice thing to have I will also be honest in telling women that it’s important to not put too much pressure and emphasis on it. I have seen that perfect plan go out the window many times. It is nice however to be prepared for all the possibilities and have a clear ideal situation in your head to go by.
My ‘plan’ for instance was to have a great obstetrician and I always dreamed of pushing my baby out and have it laid on my chest but I also was sure that at some point towards the end I wanted an epidural. I relied on the midwives advice and support and I found that when things got really intense that I actually wanted to go as long as possible without pain relief (never my plan but you really do go into I CAN DO THIS beast mode). I found that when the midwives came and sat with me and held my hand I felt much more at ease. They had done this before and whilst they couldn’t tell me what I should be doing they kept telling me I was doing a great job and giving me encouragement. This meant so much to me. Before that moment I would never have thought that I would ever have wanted a Doula but it made me understand why they are so amazing.
The course that I am completing is through the Australian Doula College and is a 20 week course. Whilst the course focuses on childbirth it covers everything from the first trimester pregnancy, settling and caring for newborns to PND. The cost for the course is $2805 and their are payment plan options available. I will be fully qualified with a certificate at graduation which is the 21st of June. I will be needing to complete 3 training births from the 5th of April onwards after completing the first ten weeks (If anyone is interested you can contact me or the college - I'll bring the allen's snakes - EXCITING!). The cost of hiring a doula really does vary depending on the level of experience and what you want included. I would love to discuss option with anyone looking to get a doula and to talk over what is involved. I will learn so much more when my course starts next week and have a lot of learning ahead of me. I can't wait to get my business up and running and focus my energy on something I feel so passionate about (Almost as much as wine!).
I love that becoming a Doula means that I am not only a support person during labour but after birth as well. Giving birth no matter how you do it is tough but becoming a mother and those first few weeks can be even tougher. In becoming a doula I not only want to offer birth support but I want to be able to help to establish feeding, comfort and reassure that it takes time and perseverance [and sore nipple perseverance can be tough!]. Post birth I would also offer settling techniques and where it is wanted advice on routine for when baby is around 4 – 5 weeks old. I absolutely swore by having a nice gentle routine which is why Emmi has slept so well from so early. She loves the comfort and safety of her room and loves going to sleep. A simple routine with some simple sleep triggers can make the world of difference. Again it’s perseverance that will well and truly pay off.
Who would hire a Doula? Absolutely anyone. Extra support during labour can be a life changer. Adam was amazing and whilst the rules before labour where no phone, no games I actually found that I preferred him sitting quietly playing games in the corner so I could just focus! I had my mum in the room with me on the day and whilst it was so nice having them both there is was the midwife’s face walking back into the room that I longed for. Someone that could tell me how I was doing and use her qualifications and experience to reassure me. She was far more calm and less worried then Adam and Mum. It’s also for people who’s partners may be FIFOS (fly in fly out), women who are doing it by themselves or with a family member or friend. A doula can simply give you an extra support person to lean on [literally], someone to get a cool towel, to get sips of water and to encourage and reassure throughout the process. A way of communication also between expecting parents and midwives.
Have I got what it takes to be a Doula? I hope so. I love helping people, I have so much empathy that I need to find an outlet for it. I have given birth and survived the first 16 months of Motherhood so hopefully that counts for something [surely we should get some kind of medal or a cocktail machine for that??]. I’m hoping that my fears and nerves will go in time as I get used to my new role and gain more experience.
I worry that I won’t live up to peoples expectations as it is such an important time. Every single birth is different so I know I have to be prepared for anything and everything. I know that my training will give me the professional certificate but it is the wonderful people that allow me into their lives at the most cherished moments that will give me the most experience. I am so excited to see where this takes me and build a business for myself. Surely there is no greater privilege then to help welcome new life into the world. I am enthusiastic, ready and willing for this new adventure. I hope to document as much of my experiences as possible to stay tuned for what is to come as I embark on this new journey.
Julia Coffey xx