• HAS ARRIVED. PAY IT IN 4.

What is a Doula?

Renee avatar By Renee Adair

Renee avatar Renee Adair

Renee Adair is the founder and principal educator of the Australian Doula College, The Groundwork Program and our charity-arm Doula Heart Network. She first began working with women and babies in 1994 as a massage, Aromatherapist and Reiki Practitioner and in 1998 began studying and working as a Doula, Childbirth and Early Parenting Educator and Birth Counsellor.

For three and half years Renee then worked for the Australian Red Cross at their young women’s health program/refuge and set up both the outreach and childbirth and early parenting education programs for that service. Renee has spoken on a variety of Radio programmes on the subject of both birth and end of life Doula support. She also presents at conferences and seminars and is currently sitting on the Consumer Advisory Board of the Australian College of Midwives. Renee has been a regular contributor in pregnancy and parenting publications and websites over the years and under the ADC banner created the first Doula research in Australia which was published in the Journal of Perinatal Education in 2013. In her career she has supported hundreds of women, their partners and families through pregnancy, birth and the early parenting phase.

In recent years Renee has moved to change the way we think about Doula support and helped launch Preparing the Way – End of Life Doula Training, in collaboration with its founder Helen Callanan which has created the space for the wider community to see Doulas as a support though both the first and last breath and any one of many life's transitions in between.

Australian Doula College

A Doula is a pillar of support during pregnancy and the postnatal period. If you have ever wondered what their role is and the services they offer, read on.......

Matthew maillet Ss H2c8cl T5c unsplash

A doula, or birth attendant, is a woman offering support and information to parents during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. 'Doula' is a Greek word that has come to mean, "to serve". There are also end of life Doulas and Doula’s offering support and education in a variety of spaces and settings however for the purpose of this article, I am going to focus on birth and post natal Doulas.

Overall, a birth and postnatal Doula believes it is a woman's rite of passage to birth her baby where, with whom, and how she wishes. Therefore, we will support you from a homebirth with a Midwife to a private delivery suite with an OB and into theatre for a caesarean.

The doula is knowledgeable in comfort measures such as relaxation breathing, massage and positioning, managing labour sensations using water, hot packs and aromas. Some Doulas offer other services as well including Blessingways, belly castings and placental encapsulation.

Doulas specialise in non-medical skills, and do not perform clinical tasks, such as vaginal exams or fetal heart rate monitoring. Doulas do not diagnose medical conditions, offer second opinions, or give medical advice. Our primary and unique role is to encourage the birthing woman's self-confidence and engage the fathers/partners so all involved have a satisfying experience.

Many studies in the USA have been conducted and highlighted the huge difference a Doula can make to a labour and birth. In the USA, UK and parts of Europe doulas are a recognised part of the birthing team and postnatal services. The doula services fill an important gap for women and their caregivers and have been developed over the years to respond to the ever-increasing requests from women to have more support and continuity of care before, during and after the birth of their children.

According to research undertaken in the US, Klaus, Kennel and Klaus, authors of Mothering the Mother, "How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth" have identified the benefits of having a doula at your birth:

50% reduction in caesarean rate

25% shorter labour

60% reduction in epidural requests

40% reduction in oxytocin use

30% reduction in analgesia use

40% reduction in forceps delivery

Improved breastfeeding

Decreased incidence of postpartum depression

Greater maternal satisfaction

Better mother-infant interaction

I like to say that “a doula does not come flying in with a super hero cape on, but rather she helps you find yours!”

All kinds of people hire a Doula, including first time mums, those that have had a doula for previous birth/s, women who have experienced a previous birth trauma or postnatal depression and women wanting to achieve a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean).

Most Doulas work with a base package and will also offer individual packages according to the clients needs. Whatever your choice in levels of experience, a Doula is non judgemental and will walk along side you on your journey, however that unfolds for you.

In these unprecedented times of Covid-19, people need support and education. When you are unable to see someone face to face, you can still book a time with someone virtually. The Australian Doula College has a complete virtual doula package available and you can find out more at Australian Doula College

Renee avatar

About Renee

Renee Adair is the founder and principal educator of the Australian Doula College, The Groundwork Program and our charity-arm Doula Heart Network. She first began working with women and babies in 1994 as a massage, Aromatherapist and Reiki Practitioner and in 1998 began studying and working as a Doula, Childbirth and Early Parenting Educator and Birth Counsellor.

For three and half years Renee then worked for the Australian Red Cross at their young women’s health program/refuge and set up both the outreach and childbirth and early parenting education programs for that service. Renee has spoken on a variety of Radio programmes on the subject of both birth and end of life Doula support. She also presents at conferences and seminars and is currently sitting on the Consumer Advisory Board of the Australian College of Midwives. Renee has been a regular contributor in pregnancy and parenting publications and websites over the years and under the ADC banner created the first Doula research in Australia which was published in the Journal of Perinatal Education in 2013. In her career she has supported hundreds of women, their partners and families through pregnancy, birth and the early parenting phase.

In recent years Renee has moved to change the way we think about Doula support and helped launch Preparing the Way – End of Life Doula Training, in collaboration with its founder Helen Callanan which has created the space for the wider community to see Doulas as a support though both the first and last breath and any one of many life's transitions in between.

Australian Doula College

Mums' Insights

Intriguing question of the moment...

Did you find out the gender of your baby during your most recent pregnancy?

Yes
Not yet, but I'm planning to!
No
Cast your vote: Did you find out the gender of your baby during your most recent pregnancy? Vote now
bird
swirl