Worldwide studies have shown that having a doula decreases the overall stress of childbirth, and has caused the cesarean rate of mothers who have doulas to drop by 50%, the length of labour dropped by 25%, inductions down by 40%, and requests for an epidural down by 60%. Doulas exist not just to make birth more enjoyable for the mother, but also to make births smoother, shorter and less painful.
“In spite of all the modern obstetrical methods to speed up labour – which include the artificial rupture of membranes, augmentation of the strength of contractions with oxytocin, and the use of forceps or delivery by cesarean section – the mothers with the shortest labour in our study were again those women who had a doula present throughout their labour.” - Mothering the Mother
Further studies consistently demonstrate very impressive benefits for the mother.
a reduction in cesarean section by 50%
a reduction in forceps use by 40%
a reduction in epidural requests by 60%
a reduction in the use of synthetic oxytocin for inductions or augmentation of labour by 40%
a reduction in the use of pain medication by 30%
a reduction in the duration of labour by 25%
increased rates of breastfeeding at 6 weeks postpartum
decreased rates of postnatal depression and anxiety at 6 weeks postpartum
“The evidence for doulas comes from more than eleven carefully designed studies: Quite simply, hiring one cuts in half the odds of you having an unnecessary cesarean…In the typical birthing unit, the doula you bring with you may be the only person whose sole responsibility is to make you more comfortable and to help you labour as effectively as possible.” - Ina May Gaskin
6 weeks after birth, mothers who had doulas were:
Less anxious and depressed, experiencing higher self esteem
More confident with their baby and their ability to cope
More satisfied with their partner
More likely to be breastfeeding easily
Experiencing improved mother/baby bonding and well-being
Whilst the care of the baby is top priority; doulas know that by keeping the mother calm and focused while attending to all of her needs, will in most cases, result in a spontaneous vaginal birth where the baby has a high Apgar score.
What to expect from doula care?
Doula care, like birth, cannot be scripted. It should be organic in nature; free to flow with the changing needs and desires of the birthing woman. An experienced doula is able to respond to the unique needs and desires of each woman and each birth through the use of her intuition, training and knowledge of the birth process, and ability to identify the birthing woman's philosophy and emotional needs, both spoken and silent.
A doulas commitment is to provide highly personalised care to the birthing mother, based on her individual needs and desires – those that are expressed prior to the birth, which stem from her life experience, her core beliefs, and her ideal expectations, as well as those needs which spontaneously occur during the birth and postpartum period.
"Birth is a rite of passage of women. Their journey should be honoured, their rights should be fiercely protected, and their stories should be shared. " - MarcieMacari
A doulas goal is to inform her clients regarding the different aspects of pregnancy, labour and birth, so that they may make informed decisions concerning the birth of their baby.
A doulas intention should be to nurture the elements which lead to a satisfying birth experience, such as trust, honesty, harmony and flexibility, whilst respectfully providing guidance so that the woman gives birth in awareness - empowered by the decisions she has made concerning her baby, body and birth.
Provide you with comprehensive childbirth preparation that is informative, evidence-based, and practical.
Guide you in exploring your options, needs and desires for your baby’s birth - and assist you in communicating these preferences to your caregivers.
Listen to and support your decisions, without judgement, and ensure those decisions are communicated.
Preserve the intimacy of your birth experience, by ensuring a positive, calm and nurturing environment, as defined by you.
Provide you with attentive and professional support for the duration of your labour and birth, both practical and emotional, utilising their training, skills, and experience to fulfil this role.
Ensure your other support people are reassured and encouraged in their role as your birth journey unfolds.
Offer you experienced breastfeeding and attachment/bonding support and guidance, birth debriefing and practical and emotional postnatal support - ensuring you and your baby are off to the best possible start.
What else can you expect from doulas?
Doulas are respectful and are great listeners
Doulas don't impose their own thoughts on their clients
Doulas trust women's instincts
Doulas acknowledge the power of birth
Doulas recognise birth as a non-medical event
Doulas understand that the fewer people interrupting the mother and the process, the quicker the birth
Doulas know little secrets that facilitate the progress of labour and enhance the comfort of mothers
Doulas offer prenatal support
Doulas offer breastfeeding support
Doulas provide birth education and preparation
Doulas provide birth planning consultations
Doulas provide de-briefing consultations for previous births
Doulas provide suggestions for coping techniques and alternative natural therapies
Doulas provide reassurance and encouragement
Doulas protect your birthing environment
Doulas provide assistance with understanding and assessing your options as your journey unfolds
Doulas in Islam
Allah has created the woman and her body to be capable of amazing things. All is from Allah, and we are there to remind our sisters that Allah never burdens a believer with more than they can handle.
Birth is not a punishment, and can be one of the greatest, most exhilarating moments in a woman’s life. We are there to help the mother embrace this reality and to guide her in working with her body and her mind during this incredible experience; while creating a stronger relationship with Allah.
Witnessing life coming into this world should have a profound effect on us and increase us in Emaan, and it does just that when mothers are in calm, nurturing environment that allows them to experience the blessings that surround birth. Our job is to remove the chaos, allowing the mother to tune into her natural instincts.
After the mother has birthed her baby, we can ensure the mother is not interrupted, as she embraces those precious first moments when she meets her baby. We will also remind her to perform all the Islamic rituals that are prescribed in the Sunnah, and offer her honest and sincere breastfeeding advice and support.
We often set up a meal train for the mother so that she may recover well, giving other sisters in the community the opportunity to strengthen the bonds of sisterhood by providing nourishing home-cooked meals to the mother in the first weeks after birth.
So you want a doula? Here's how it works.
Once you are in contact with a doula, she will arrange with you a time to meet and get to know each other. She will explain her individual doula services and fees, and you may choose the service that suits you best. She will then provide you with a booking form, and your journey with your doula begins from there.
Typically, most doulas offer the following as part of their services:
Prenatal visits that explore your individual needs and desires for your birth, assist you with personalised preparation, and offer suggestions on coping techniques/natural and nutritive therapies for pregnancy discomforts.
Childbirth education that informs you about the mechanics of labour and birth; including what to expect from your body, your caregivers, and what your options are in different settings.
Birth preferences consultation that will clarify and document your preferences for labour and birth, exploring the many options that are available to you, and providing you with clear information to put you in a confident, informed position.
24 hour on call service that assures you your doula is contactable when you go into labour and available whenever you need her.
Continuous physical, emotional, and informational support throughout labour and birth, offering expertise on various coping techniques, natural therapies, guidance in working efficiently with your body, your instincts and your baby. Your doula will explain medical jargon if unexpected circumstances arise, remind you to ask important questions to clarify your options, and ensure you are supported wholly throughout your birth journey.
Continuous breastfeeding support in the critical first hours after birth to facilitate skin-to-skin and baby’s instinctive breast crawl, ensuring your baby is attaching well and mother and baby are comfortable, and getting your breastfeeding relationship with your new baby off to a strong start.
Postnatal visits to debrief your baby’s birth, provide breastfeeding support and guidance, share baby sleep and settling tips and general baby care information and instruction, and assist in your physical and emotional recovery and transition, providing appropriate information and referral.
Access to the doulas resources including books/ media and products.
Doulas may offer support packages for each of the stages of the birth journey separately (prenatal, birth, postnatal) or they may offer complete packages that include all three.
Complete packages typically include 1-3 prenatal visits, a birth preferences consultation, continuous labour and birth support, and 1-3 postnatal visits.
The fee for complete packages range from $500 to $1000, and most doulas offer payments plans on request.
“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers - strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” - Barbara Katz Rothman