What is a Doula? Do I Need One?

Having someone other than your partner and family to support you during child birth can make it even more bearable. Find out the perks of hiring a doula!

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More and more moms are hiring doulas these days, but this profession is actually still quite young in the Philippines. A quick search in Oxford dictionary will tell us that a doula is a woman, typically without formal medical obstetric training, who is employed to provide guidance and support to a pregnant woman during labor.

To help us all understand more about what doulas are and why we might think of hiring one, I interviewed Ros Padua-Macachor, a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and a member of the Pinay Doulas Collective.

What is a doula?

The word doula has Greek origin and it means woman who serves. It’s that woman in the community who helps and supports other women in their needs. In the US, there is a wide variety of doulas who provide support for pregnancy, childbirth, post-partum, still-birth, or even bereavement. In the Philippines, the most popular is the childbirth doula.

What services can we expect from a doula?

Pinay Doulas Collective provides fertility, birth, and post-partum doula services. Support is provided to moms and their partners (or families, even) through classes and one-on-one sessions. Doulas provide physical, informational, and emotional support during a very vulnerable phase of a woman’s life. Each of their members have their own areas of specializations like Lamaze, Spinning Babies, and Hypnobirthing.

How does a mom know if she needs a doula? Why should we hire a doula?

There is common misconception that only moms who want unmedicated births, water births, vaginal births or VBAC (Vaginal Birth After a C-Section) need a doula. But as Doulas of North America (DONA) International advocates, “a doula is for any woman who needs one.” Ros shares that she has supported even moms who are in their second, third, or up to fourth pregnancy. She also clarified that the doula does not and should not take the place of the partner or the family members in terms of support, but they sometimes fill in during times that the partner is overseas or unavailable for whatever reason.

Having said that, every woman can benefit from having someone in their corner during childbirth as it is one of the most physically painful and emotionally challenging moments in her life. Penny Simkin, founder of DONA International, found in a study that a woman’s positive birthing experience contributed to their self-confidence and self-esteem, and resulted to satisfaction and long-term impact in their lives.

How do we go about hiring a doula?

You can schedule an appointment with your doula of choice to understand more about it or you can also attend a birthing class. It is important too to talk to your hospital and your doctor about your plan to have a doula during childbirth. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, there are still some hospitals who do not allow even the father of the child to be present in the delivery room. On the other hand, Pinay Doulas Collective has established good relationships with some of the big hospitals in the Philippines where they have also been trained on safety procedures and infection control.

References:

Pinay Doulas Collective

https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Just-another-day-in-a-woman%27s-life-Women%27s-of-their-Simkin/bf4ce620961bb3ab5aeaa228ef48b916a37b55b9

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