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Finding a doula

Photo credit: Betsy King Photography, Fort Wayne, Indiana www.betsykingphoto.com

A doula – which is a greek word meaning ‘a woman at the service of another woman’ – provides emotional and physical support during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period.

Most doulas are mothers themselves and their goal is to accompany the future parent(s) on their journey of discovery, all the while respecting the choices and wishes of the parent(s).


The doula difference 

Having continuous support during labour - whether from your partner, a midwife or a doula - can make a huge difference to how your labour unfolds. It can help you feel safe and reassured, help you deal better with pain and discomfort, and that person can encourage you and help keep you mobile.

All of this can help you tune in to you natural birthing instincts and make for a smoother experience for you and your baby.

If you give birth in hospital, your hospital midwife will not be able to stay by your side for all of your labour. And your partner might feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to really help you, and need some extra support himself/herself. A doula can work together with your partner, and is actually there to support both you.

What does the research say?

A 2013 Cochrane review of 22 separate randomised control trials (involving a total of over 15,000 women) showed that women with continuous birth support were:

    • more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth 
    • more likely to be satisfied with the birth experience
    • less likely to have an epidural
    • less likely to have a caesarean birth or need forceps or ventouse during vaginal birth

The review also found that "continuous support was most effective when the provider was neither a medical professional nor the woman's social network", leading to two further benefits:

    • shorter labours; and
    • higher five-minute Apgar scores (a test used to assess your baby's well-being in the first 5 minutes after birth)

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Doulas in Belgium

While doulas are not yet so common in Belgium, Flemish-speaking and French-speaking doulas have their own associations, through which you can find a doula - many of whom also speak English.

Get in touch with a doula to find out if she serves your area and which languages she speaks.

You may also be able to find a doula:

    • by asking friends, colleagues, acquaintances - if you're a member of the BCT, ask your local group
    • by asking your independent midwife

 

English-speaking doulas

  • Belgians Julie Denil and Sophie Fraschina run So Cocoon. They offer a whole range of birth-related services, in English and French.
    Because they have lived as expats, they know the feeling you can experience being a far from home, especially during the particular time of pregnancy and early parenthood.


  • Emily Gold is an American doula and yoga teacher. She has a masters in public health and loves working with her clients to assist them in understanding evidence based birth and can provide gentle support and care to your growing family. You can reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or through her website: www.birthbreathbeyond.com

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Reference:

Hodnett, E., Gates, S., Hofmeyr, G., Sakala C., (2012) Continuous support for women during childbirth [Systematic Review]. Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Online]. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23076901 [Accessed 30 July 2013]

 

remember ...

the village does not offer medical advice - for that you need to ask your care provider.

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