For FAQs and general information on placenta encapsulation and other placenta remedies, please visit the Placenta Remedies Network website.

Doulas : Frequently Asked Questions

What is a doula?

The word ‘doula’ comes from Ancient Greek and refers to a woman of service.  A doula offers a supportive presence, physical comfort and emotional support throughout the birth experience and/or early parenthood.

Why work with me as your doula?

Particularly if you have chosen to give birth in a hospital setting, as your doula I may be the only caregiver with you besides your birth partner that you know.

The continuity of support, information and gentle encouragement I would provide as your doula are aimed to help your labour go smoothly and to minimize the risk of trauma and of surgical interventions.  A doulas’ aim is to provide comfort measures that often mitigate a mother's need for medication during birth and some documented benefits of having a doula present are outlined in my “Research” section.

Studies have shown that women supported by a postnatal doula are more likely to breastfeed successfully, hold greater self-esteem, feel more confident looking after their new baby and be less prone to postnatal depression.

My husband/partner will be at my birth.  What can you offer in this case?

Birth is undoubtedly a challenge for you, but for a father who is present it can not only be the most precious experience, but it can become lonely, confusing and extremely tiring.

My aim here is to enhance the father’s role and to support him in whatever way he wishes, relieving the burden and fatigue of your reliance on him as a single support person.  I would be led completely by him in this respect and would aim to take the pressure off him, allowing you both to relax and enjoy this wonderful experience together.  In particular I would offer him help and guidance in pain management techniques, staying close at hand at all times to support, reassure and encourage him as he does the same for you.

"Asking your husband to be your sole guide through labour is like asking him to lead the way on a climb of Mount Everest.  He may be smart and trustworthy, you may love him, but in the Himalayas you'd both be a lot better off with a Sherpa!" Pam England on hiring a doula.

How is a doula different from a midwife?

Doulas are not medically trained, and play a quite different role from midwives during labour and birth.  Since doulas do not play a medical role in labour, they are free to devote their attention to comfort and support the mother and help ensure her wishes are honoured.

As your doula I can assist you through early and active labour offering helpful coping techniques and along with your partner, help you decide when to go to the hospital or call your midwife to come attend your birth at home.

As the demands on midwifery services grow, this often means it’s extremely unlikely a midwife can be totally and continuously available to you throughout your labour and birth, whereas as your doula I would be totally devoted to you throughout the whole process, accompanying you wherever this journey takes you.

Are doulas qualified, recognised professionals?

There are no regulations currently applied to practising as a doula, so take care when checking credentials and experience.  Doula UK is a non-profit association run on a voluntary basis by doulas supporting other doulas in the UK.  Membership to Doula UK is only granted on successful completion of an official doula training program and in order to become “recognised”, members must complete an assessment program covering four births and/or four postnatal jobs as a “trainee”.  Each “trainee” doula is allocated a mentor who is herself an experienced doula, who evaluates each birth/postnatal job to assess whether it counts towards the doula’s accreditation.

Having undertaken birth and postnatal doula training courses with Nurturing Birth and also becoming a member of Doula UK, I have agreed to their Code of Conduct, Philosophy and Aims, Confidentiality Policy and Equal Opportunities Statement.  All available on the DoulaUK website.

I hold Public Liability & Malpractice insurance as a doula and placenta specialist.

Do you work under contract as a doula?

Yes.  Should you decide to have me with you at this precious time, we will continue to outline the service you require together and confirm a few other details required for a contract to be drafted.  The contract will help to clarify the arrangement we have discussed and will define what we have agreed, including the fee.