Doula is a Greek word meaning "woman caregiver", "handmaiden" or "slave", or it can be loosely translated as "in service of", but it has come to mean a woman who provides sustained physical and emotional support and information during labour and birth. - Naomi Kemeni
Back in the days, the extended family and the local community cared for the mother and provided her with emotional and physical support after giving birth in order for her to rest and recover. There are still countries where this tradition continues, but in the western society most parents are expected to care for their babies without any help.
Although women receive a lot of medical advice antenatally, there is a lack of emotional support both in labour and birth and throughout the early days of motherhood. The role of a doula is not to offer medical advice or to tell the mother what to do. A doula’s job is to offer information, options, emotional support and assistance, or if you will, "to mother the mother" through her journey.
When I signed up to do the Doula course I had no intention of becoming a doula. I just wanted to learn more about pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period to complement my Pregnancy and Mum & Baby Yoga classes. However, now that I’ve finished the course I've realised how important the role of a doula is.
Being listened to and acknowledged by the other women in the course was an important part of my transformation into a doula. Through sharing and listening my desire to be a doula came to life. Talking about the birth of my daughter and debriefing my own traumatic experience has inspired me to support other women so that they can have the birth they desire. I want to share my knowledge with them and offer them options so that they can make the best choice for themselves. Feeling empowered is of most importance during pregnancy and labour, and as a pregnancy and postnatal yoga teacher I am able to offer a physical practice to complement the emotional support I can provide as a doula.
There are birth doulas and postnatal doulas. A birth doula supports the woman (and her partner) during pregnancy, labour and birth, while a postnatal doula offers support right after the birth of the baby and during the puerperium period. But what makes a good doula? Being a good listener, respectful, non-judgemental, empathetic and caring are fundamental qualities, but as I start this journey I hold dearly onto the values that the other wonderful doulas saw in me: honesty, strength and groundness. I’m confident that my passion and deep desire to nurture other women will guide me through this new path and will unravel the wonders of this amazing and much needed profession.