Congratulations on your pregnancy!
Now that you have found out you are pregnant you must be incredibly excited, but perhaps a little apprehensive, and overwhelmed with all the information that you have been googling about what you need to do next to prepare for your birth.
Something that might come up in your research is that more women are hiring doulas and private midwives, but you just don’t know where to start.
Where do you start to find the right doula for you and your family?
I’ve put together a simple guide for you and your partner to easily and efficiently find your guardian angel who will guide you, support you and educate you through this next part of your journey.
I wish you all the very best for your entire journey – your Rite of Passage into becoming parents, and to help you find the right doula for you, please download the step-by-step guide and questions to ask your prospective doulas.
You can also check out the doulas and student doulas that have trained with Doula Training Academy through our doula directory:
If you are thinking of hiring a private midwife in Western Australia, here is a list, which also includes those midwives who have admitting rights to King Edward Memorial Hospital and Fiona Stanley Hospital.
Doulas are private contractors, and work for the couple ensuring their wants and needs are of the highest priority, and this means that they work for YOU, not the hospital or caregivers.
Doulas are non-medical professionals trained to provide continuous physical, emotional, and educational support to a woman and her partner before, during and after childbirth. This can apply to a woman planning a physiological birth, a managed birth, home birth, hospital birth or a planned caesarean.
Many cultures ensure that a birthing woman is surrounded by women who are experienced in childbirth for protection, comfort, and confidence. Sometimes just having another woman there to connect with can be incredibly nurturing and increase the confidence of the birthing woman.
This in no way is meant to replace the role of the partner who is there to love, support and protect the mother as well, on a different level – nobody who will be with the couple knows the woman better than her partner.
Having a doula present aids both the mother and partner.
Check out Matt’s experience working with a doula – his initial reaction was they didn’t need a doula – CLICK HERE
The role of the doula is very different to the role of the medical care providers.
Obstetricians, midwives, and nurses are responsible for monitoring labour, assessing the medical condition of the mother and baby, and treating complications when they arise; but birth is also an emotional, energetic, and spiritual experience with a long-term impact on a woman’s personal wellbeing.
Doulas do not provide any type of medical care; however, they do provide evidence-based information and research to help their clients gain a better understanding of medical procedures and encourage the couple to ask all the right questions to ensure they are making the right choices for their birth.
Studies have shown that in the presence of a doula, partners felt more satisfied with their role and mothers felt their birth was a more positive and empowering experience. Research also shows that Doulas help to lower caesarean rates and interventions because they are completely focused on the mums’ needs and not the medical environment.
One study released identified that women who had an independent birth support (specifically a doula, not a midwife or someone from their family or friend network) were:
- More likely to have a spontaneous labour
- Less likely to have synthetic oxytocin
- Less likely to ask for an epidural or drugs
- Less likely to be dissatisfied with their birth
- More likely to have shorter labours
- Less likely to have a caesarean
- Less likely to have an instrumental birth (forceps & vacuum)
- Less likely to have a baby with low Apgar scores.
Something to keep in mind is that the Doula industry is an unregulated one, so this means there is no governing body or accreditation for doulas by the Government. There are many doula training organisations available, and they all have different levels of training, so it’s important to figure out what is most important to you – someone who has been formally trained and has insurance, or someone who is offering their services based on their own wisdom and experience.
Both are valuable and relevant to different people.
Only you can decide what is important for you and what is not negotiable.
Only doulas who have been formally trained through a reputable doula training organisation will be able to obtain insurance for their doula services. So, for example a doula may be a qualified massage therapist, and have insurance to perform massage, but if they haven’t been able to provide proof of training as a doula, then they can’t say they are insured as a doula using their massage insurance and so on. For each modality a doula claims to offer, they should have that modality listed on their insurance, then that will confirm to you that they have provided evidence of training.
Being a doula is so much more than just being at a birth and supporting a woman through her labour. A doula is a nurturer and someone who a pregnant woman will look towards for guidance, information and encouragement through her pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond – what we identify as continuity of care.
Here in Australia, we have the Doula Network Australia, which is the only national incorporated association for doulas and student doulas, which provides peer support, professional development, insurance and is dedicated to the integrity, professionalism, and ongoing training of doulas.
I feel it is important for couples to extensively research their doula options, and not to be swayed by a doula who claims to be medically trained, or they were a midwife or nurse before becoming a doula. If you want someone who is medically trained, then hire a private midwife, or go through a midwifery-led care program. Doulas are not an option to save you money as a substitute for a medically trained professional. If you hire a doula and have not planned to have a medical professional there to support your birth, then this is considered a freebirth.
Learn more about doulas, and the Law relating to freebirth – CLICK HERE
Also be wary of doulas who make promises on any type of birth outcome, as birth is unpredictable, and we don’t have a crystal ball. Your doula should be preparing you for any birth (check out The Birth Map with Catherine Bell) – so you are calm and focussed if things start to deviate from your ideal birth.
Don’t dismiss a doula because they have not given birth themselves. Some of our most incredible doulas are those who have not given birth. Having had children doesn’t make one doula more capable than the next. There are many midwives who have not had their own babies – but we don’t question their expertise, we still see them as professionals and experts in pregnancy and birth.
There are an incredibly high number of Obstetricians who are male, who will never give birth, but that doesn’t stop women from booking with them.
We don’t expect a doctor to have had cancer to work with a cancer patient. A trauma nurse doesn’t have to have had a car accident to treat a car accident victim. We don’t have to be blind to be of service to a blind person. You don’t expect a dentist to have had a tooth pulled before pulling your tooth.
Something to also consider is that a doula who doesn’t have children is probably going to be more accessible and not have as many time restrictions – fancy free and footloose and no day care troubles. Spontaneous births in the middle of the night – no problem!
My name is Vicki Hobbs, and I am the Founder and one of the trainers at Doula Training Academy where our core values are education, support, respect, integrity, and excellence for emerging and experienced doulas and birth workers across Australia. If you would like more information about training to be a doula or you are a midwife and would like to add to your skill set or if you are looking for a doula to support you through your pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum journey please email me at [email protected]