Questions you may have

What is a doula?

“Doula” (pronounced “doola”) is a Greek word meaning “woman servant or caregiver”. It now refers to an experienced woman who offers emotional and practical support to a woman (or couple) before, during and after childbirth. This is not a new concept. It used to be the case that the womenfolk within the immediate and extended family (mothers/sisters/grandmother etc…) would be on hand to provide the nurturing role for the new mother, to guide by experience and help with the practicalities that need to be performed before, during and after a woman gives birth to a baby. However due to modern day factors many women do not have family nearby. Thus the role of paid doulas has evolved.

A doula believes in “mothering the mother” – enabling a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered time that she can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new mum. This type of support also helps the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience.


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Who can use a doula?

Anyone!

  • first, second, third…. pregnancies
  • whether your pregnancy is classed as high or low risk
  • you plan to have your baby at home, in hospital or in a birth centre
  • you already have a planned birth companion (e.g. your partner, family member)
  • you are having an elective c-section
  • births in NHS or Private hospitals
  • you wish to have a VBAC or HBAC
  • you are pregnant with twins or multiples


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What are the benefits of having a doula?

Unfortunately it is no longer the case that women have the same midwife caring for them throughout their pregnancy and labour and with the growing pressures on the NHS a vital element has been lost: continuity of care. Doulas can provide continuous support from early pregnancy right through to the first few months with baby.

Research has shown that having continuous support from a doula during labour/birth;

  • shortens first-time labour by an average of 2 hours
  • decreases the chance of caesarean section by 50%
  • decreases the need for pain medication
  • helps partners participate with confidence
  • increases success in breastfeeding


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How does the ‘on call’ period work?

The on call period runs from the 38th week of pregnancy until your baby arrives.  We can be contacted 24/7. If your baby arrives early (before 38 weeks) or late (after 42 weeks) we will do our utmost to be available to you.


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Do you have a ‘back-up’ plan?

YES, we at Surrey Doulas work together as ‘back-ups’ for each other. We also have a very good support network with other local doulas and often call on each other to help with back-up or shared care arrangements if necessary.


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Does a doula replace my midwife?

A doula does not undertake a clinical role and is not intended to replace any of the medical staff, including midwives, concerned with the birth of your baby.  Your doula is there to provide continuous practical and emotional support to you and your partner during the birth of your baby. Your doula works for you, not your caregiver or hospital.


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Will a doula make decisions on my behalf?

A doula does not give advice and will never make decisions for you on your behalf. We are there to ensure you have all the necessary information to make an informed decision. We are there to support you in the decisions you make  and ensure your wishes/birth plans are listened to.


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Will having a doula support my partner?

YES! We are not there to replace your partner, unless he/she specifically does not want to be involved . Having a doula can actually encourage your partner to take an active role in the birth of your baby and support you as a couple in birthing and caring for your baby. Many partners can feel overwhelmed with the ‘responsibility’ of being the sole birth partner: by hiring a doula this responsibility is lifted and partners are less fearful and can relax and enjoy the whole experience more fully. This is so important as adrenalin can inhibit your labour hormones. A relaxed partner really can lead to a quicker labour – you can focus on birthing and not worrying about your partner.


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Can I use a doula if I am having a planned caesarean section?

Yes, but you will need to check your hospital policy on how many birth companions are allowed in to theatre.  A doula can bring in another set of hands, eyes and ears to help you to prepare for birth.  She can help you get answers to your questions, explain protocols and procedures and create birth preferences for a caesarean section (yes, you do have choices – even during a c-section!).  If baby needs to go the special care unit a doula can stay with mum or the baby ensuring that neither are alone.


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What is Shared Care?

Shared Care is where we work together to cover your on-call period. Both doulas would attend the antenatal sessions so that we both know you (and your partner) and your birth preferences. We might offer shared care if we have a client whose EDD overlaps with your dates or if we have holidays booked etc. Shared Care is often seen as beneficial as you get to have the benefit of both doulas’ experience. There is no extra charge for shared care arrangement – so effectively you are getting two doulas for the price of one!


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What area do we cover?

We are able to support births in a large geographical area including those in Surrey, Middlesex and Central London.