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What’s the most important benefit of doula support?

stats4I started making the pictures focusing on all the benefits that research has suggested come with the continuous support that doulas offer through birth. (Check them out on our facebook page)  Then I had some conversations with fellow doulas about births they had supported and it really made me think about the true benefits of doula support. It’s brilliant that many women have easier birth experiences with doulas by their sides and as doulas, it’s really exhilarating to be at those births that go exactly according to what the mum had planned. But birth is unpredictable and even for those women who do everything possible to help themselves, there is a chance that baby simply won’t ‘play ball’ whether for a reason that becomes clear when they are born or for apparently no reason at all. Sometimes birth ends up taking an unexpected twist such as transfer to hospital from home or baby needing to be born by c-section. Those births are the ones when, in my experience, the birthing woman and her partner benefit most from total unconditional support in making every decision for themselves and help with understanding what’s going on.

As doulas, we often notice that most of the benefit we offer to mums and their partners is virtually complete by the time we’ve finished our ante-natal sessions. The change in people from when you meet them and they feel so uncertain about what this birth will bring them and whether they have the strength to face it to seeing them grow in confidence in their bodies and in their own ability to make the right decisions for themselves is amazing. This is why when we are there to support a birth our main function is just in being there, in staying calm in reminding them that they’ve got this and in expressing how amazing they are. The wonderful thing about women and their bodies is that for the majority of births this is enough for everything to go according to plan, to be hard work but satisfying and even enjoyable. But we can’t make any promises and ‘more likely’ doesn’t mean it’s impossible for things to take a different path. What we can promise is that we will be there 100% with women and continuing to support each decision that comes up with unbiased information and knowledge that the right decision on the day and in the moment, is the one that the birthing woman feels is right for her and her baby. This, above everything else, is the benefit of doula support. Being able to say ‘I may feel sad that things didn’t go the way I planned but I feel positive I made my choices and I know I’m amazing however my baby was born’.

Getting to know each other

hampshire112016If you’ve been around our facebook page or blog at all you may well be already aware one of the main reasons Hampshire Doulas exists is to provide a space for doulas to support each other. We believe that our face to face meetups are really important and here’s why.

Doulas are self-employed and that can be really lonely. 

As self-employed people, we are responsible for running our businesses ourselves and everything that involves from the lovely fun parts of being with families at births and during those first weeks at home with a new baby to the less fun parts like filing tax returns and the really scary (for many doulas) parts like advertising what we do. Lots of us felt very lost with all of this especially when we first started so that’s one of the reasons we felt Hampshire Doulas was a good idea. We all have different skills and experiences and when we put those together and support each other through challenges not only do we feel all the warm fuzzy feelings but we get practical ideas and information that help us feel more confident with our jobs.

Meeting face to face encourages good communication.

Facebook and email groups are brilliant for chatting on a day to day basis and asking questions we need instant answers to but it’s really difficult to truly get to know someone when you aren’t talking face to face, you miss out on the tone of voice they use and all of the visual cues that show how people feel. We can have much deeper conversations when we meet in person.

Cake and hugs are available at meetups.

Sharing food with each other is a bonding experience and just like hugs produces oxytocin and doulas know all about the positive benefits of oxytocin.

Knowing each other better can help our clients too.

Getting to know each other allows us to know who we click with best and who we can work well with. This means we can offer our clients a confident back up arrangement and even the opportunity for a shared care arrangement which can help us relax and help our clients relax with confidence they will always have a doula they know and love by their side.