A Doula’s role in the birth and after care of the baby and mother by Siobhan Smith

A doula is a non-medical person who acts as a companion at birth and supports a new mother, post-birth.  A doula will also often help a family adjust to a new situation and offer physical and emotional support.

The facts below, have been sent in by Siobhan Smith. She is a practising Doula and is a member of Doula UK, the UK’s largest Doula organisation. She represents them as a regional rep and also as a Doula mentor for newly trained Doulas. She is also a member of her local MSLC (maternity services liason committee). She is passionate about working to improve maternity services for women who use it and the staff that work within it.  

Siobhan will be happy to answer any questions that Mumsinthewood readers may have, based on the article below. Please direct your questions to her as comments at the very bottom of this page. 



Why would you hire a doula?

You may have found yourself in unfamiliar territory, A world of maternity services that you are trying to navigate your way around or maybe you have had a previous experience that wasn’t as positive as you had liked and you want things to be different this time, or maybe you don’t have family nearby and want that person you can lean on when it comes to all things pregnancy, birth and baby. A Doula can help with this by offering continuity of care along with emotional and practical support, offering up to date balanced information that will help you gain confidence in your ability to have a positive experience whatever your choices maybe.

Research has shown that having a Doula with you through childbirth can:

Shorten the length for labour by 25%

Reduce the need for pain relief by 30%

Reduce epidural requests by 60%

Decrease cesarean section rate by 50%

Hiring a Doula has been shown to enhance the birth experience for both the mother and the father

Doulas, offer emotional, physical and practical support.

They use comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement, positioning & massage.

They provide information, help a mother become more informed about various birth choices, protect your birthing environment and

support your partner, enabling them to participate more comfortably and confidently.

Doulas are often made very welcome at the hospitals by the midwives and have built a good rapport with them.

Doulas have experience of working in different types of environments, home births, birth centers & delivery suits and have experience of working with different types of births such as water births, breech, caesarian, VBAC & multiples.


A Doula’s role

A Doulas role is very different from that of your birth partner, instantly dispelling the myth that Doulas replace or push aside the partner. Birth partners come in many varieties. They may have little or no knowledge about birth, medical procedures, or what goes on in a hospital. Doulas work alongside your partner providing support for them too, reassuring them along the way. Doulas can look after the practical side of things freeing them up to concentrate on supporting you.

Think of it as building your “dream team”. Support, encouragement, strength, & knowledge from all sides, all working to help you to achieve a positive birth experience.


What a Doula will not do

It’s also important to understand what Doulas do NOT do. Doulas are NOT medical professionals. They do not perform clinical tasks, nor do they give medical advice or diagnose conditions.

They do not judge you for decisions that you make and they do not let their personal values or biases get in the way of caring for you. They do not take over the role of your partner or that of the midwife. They do not deliver the baby and they do not change shifts. They merely remain with you and support you throughout your labour and birth.


Why would a women hire a Doula for her postnatal recovery?

Bringing your baby home after the birth is a joyful experience but can also be a daunting one. A postnatal doula can make all the difference by offering both information and practical help, through the newborn stage. The help provided is designed around the wellbeing of the mother and baby enabling you to gain confidence in your parenting skills.


More information can be found on Siobhan’s website: http://www.thebirthdoula.co.uk/



© July 2015, Mums In The Wood
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1 Response

  1. Juliet Whybray says:

    It was good to read your post and I love the clear way you explained the doula role ie what it was and was not. Im new to the doula world, after spending 20 yrs working as a MCA at milton keynes general. If your ever in the area it would be good to meet up. Im a newley mentored doula .


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