Do I need a Doula?
I can't believe I'm going to say this, but no, you don't 'need' a doula any more than you need hypno-birth instruction, pregnancy yoga, aromatherapy, acupuncture, a sound track of whale song, or even a birth pool. Bet you didn't think I was going to say that!
For sure, all those things (and more) can be highly beneficial, and they can be useful tools to have at your disposal, but need? Need is such a loaded word and one that I feel can be quite disempowering when we use it around birth and early parenting. A big part of my role is to ensure that parents (whether they book me or not) understand and have confidence in the fact that they already have everything they 'need' inside them.
However, if you feel that you would benefit from having someone on your birth team who can:
Take the time to get to know 'you' personally.
Provide highly personalised 1-2-1 non-judgemental support as you prepare for birth together.
Be trusted to provide you with up to date evidence based information, and to signpost you appropriately if need be.
Make themselves available to you 24/7 from week 38 of your pregnancy.
Come out to you as soon as you would like them with you when labour begins.
Provide a constant reassuring presence throughout your labour and birth, gently supporting you, your partner and any other birth partners.
Safeguard the first few hours after birth so you have time to get to know your baby at your own pace.
Visit you at home or in hospital after birth to ensure you have all the support you need.
Then yes, you might like to consider hiring a doula to significantly enhance your birth experience.
What experience do you have?
I have had experience supporting complex and uncomplicated pregnancies, single parents, LGBTQI+ parents, poly-families, water birth, hospital birth (on consultant and midwifery led units), home-birth, baby loss, teen pregnancy, PGP/SPD, post-dates (41+ weeks), 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th time parents, birth following previous birth trauma, birth following sexual assault, emergency caesarean section, induction, VBAC, hypno-birth, breast and bottle feeding. I have supported clients who are navigating mental health challenges, and non-pregnancy related conditions and/or disabilities, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS), cerebral palsy, and epilepsy.
I have lived LGBTQI+ experience. I have personal experience of both bottle and breast feeding, postnatal depression and birth related PTSD.
What areas do you cover?
Due to my convenient location on the border of Birmingham and Worcestershire, I am able to comfortably cover Birmingham and the county of Worcestershire, and parts of Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Gloucestershire.
B1, B2, B3, B4, B5, B11, B12, B13, B14, B15, B16, B17, B25, B26, B27, B28, B29, B30, B31, B32, B38, B45, B47, B48, B49, B60, B61, B62, B62, B63, B64, B65, B66, B67, B68, B69, B80, B94, B95, B96, B97, B98, WR1, WR2, WR3, WR4, WR5, WR7, WR8, WR9, WR13, WR14, DY7, DY8, DY9, DY10, DY11, DY12, DY13
Can't see you postcode? I will consider other areas, so do get in touch.
I'm very late into my pregnancy, can you still support me?
Yes, absolutely! Although it's lovely to get to know each other over weeks and months, it is can also be very special to get to know each other very quickly. Clients have booked me as early as 12 weeks and as late as 40 weeks. For late bookings where there is not time to schedule two antenatal sessions I may suggest one longer session.
I'm booked for an elective caesarean section, can I still benefit from having a Doula?
Many parents find it very beneficial to have a doula as they prepare for their baby's birth by caesarean section. It used to be that there were not many options available to parents preparing for caesareans. Today it is quite different. With the advent of the 'family centred' caesarean, more and more parents are taking control of their birth experience, and take measures to ensure their caesarean is a positive life-affirming experience, in which they are left feeling like they had a 'birth' and not an 'operation'.
It has been heartening to see a growing number of NHS Trusts embrace this woman centre approach to caesarean birth, having recognised the emotional and physical benefits to both the parents and baby. A doula can help you navigate your options, and provide practical and emotional support to you and your partner before, during and after your baby's birth.
What is shared care?
Many doula's book clients so there is no overlap between the 'on-call' period of one client, and the next. Because choosing a doula is so personal, it can be disappointing to discover the doula you've set your heart on is already booked. Equally, doula's can feel the same way about a potential client.
In these circumstances a 'shared care arrangement' can work really well, whereby a doula works with another experienced doula to provide their service to you. Both doula's come to the initial meeting, and then either attend the antenatal sessions with you together, or alone if they split the visits between themselves. Working like this allows you to get to know both of them before your baby's birth and you are guaranteed that at least one of them will be with with you during your labour. It may even be the doula you originally wanted to book with! After birth, they will visit together, or come to some another arrangement led by you.
The fee is the same as hiring just one doula as they will split the fee between them. Think of it as two doula's for the price of one!
In the same circumstances, a doula may ask another doula to be her 'back up'. Unlike a share-care arrangement you may only meet her back up when you go into labour though most doula's will introduce you to each other before this.
I have worked with a number of local doulas in both 'shared care' and 'back up' doula situations and consider myself very lucky to have a rich pool of colleagues that I can contact in situations where I can not offer my services alone.
How much does a Doula cost? Are they expensive?
The fee a doula charges varies considerably throughout the UK which you can read about more on the Doula UK website here.
As for whether they are expensive, only you can decide that. Many a doula labours long and hard over where they set their fee. They take into consideration how much they need to live on; the cost of their training and continuing CPD; business expenses such a fuel & parking; the amount of experience they have and their skill-set; the on going costs of membership (to a professional body like Doula UK), insurance, advertising their business, running a website; the cost of equipment that supports their work with clients - rebozos, teaching aids, aromatherapy oils, books for loaning etc. They take into consideration the minimum and maximum amount of hours they will potentially spend with clients (calls, texts, on-going support, meetings, research, signposting, home visits, labour, birth & postnatal), and the cost of putting their life on hold every-time they go on-call; the time spent doing business admin, on CPD etc. If the doula does other work outside of doula-ing, she may also have to factor in loss of earnings when she attends a birth.
A doula with a fee of £1000, booking a client for every month of the year, would earn £12,000 before tax.
If their client has 2 antenatal visits (4 hours), labour and birth support (lets say she was with their client for 32 hours), 2 postnatal visits (4 hours), calls/emails/texts/research/signposting (2 hours), the fee of £1000, works out at just £23ph before tax.
The real question should be, are doula's worth the investment? Many families who have employed a doula would state a good case to say they most definitely are.
I really want a Doula but I don't think I can afford one...
If you would like my support but do not think you can afford my fee, in the first instance please contact me to see if I can help. I am quite happy to discuss alternatives, such as monthly instalment plans, skill swaps etc. I'm sure between us we can work something out. I accept Doula UK Vouchers too, so if you have friends and family who are at loss at what to buy you - let them know you want a doula!
I've heard there is an fund that will pay for my Doula, is this true?
The Doula UK Access Fund can help you meet the costs of hiring a Doula UK registered Doula in situations where you are experiencing financial hardship* and meet one of the following criteria:
Black or Asian
Mental health diagnosis
Fleeing domestic violence
Homeless or in temporary housing
In the Social Work system
Survivor of trafficking or abuse
For more details about the fund, eligibility and how to apply - Doula UK Access Fund
*Proof of receipt of benefits or no recourse to public funds will be required.
Do you offer Antenatal & Parenting preparation classes?
Whilst there are many excellent antenatal and birth preparation classes out there, not all these classes are delivered by people who attend birth regularly. If you are not planning to hire a birth doula to support you during your pregnancy and birth, but would like the benefits of preparing for birth and beyond with a doula that attends birth regularly and will be familiar with your local NHS care-provider, I am delighted to be able to offer standalone antenatal, birth and postnatal preparation sessions. These take place on a 1-2-1 basis in the comfort of your own home, covering exactly exactly what you need to know, filling in the gaps of your own knowledge, and tailored to your own needs.
Session 1 - Preparing for Birth
Getting to know each other. Preparing emotionally and mentally for birth and early parenting. Exploration of your rights, responsibilities, decision making, choices, resources and the pregnancy time-line.
Session 2 - Birth, what you need to know
Hormones, communication, advocacy, birth environments, labour, positions, birthing, discovering baby, 3rd stage, skin to skin.
Session 3 - If birth becomes complex
We take a look at complex births, and how to adapt to challenging situations with adaptability, flexibility
and how to stay positive if the plan changes.
Session 4 - Toolbox for birth
We explore the benefits of creating a toolbox for birth.
With all the information gathered over the past 3 sessions, you will discover how to put it into practice. We will discuss comfort measures, relaxation techniques and more, as well as medical pain relief options. You will start drawing together your birth and post-partum support team, and fine tune your birth wish list.
Session 5 - When the baby's here
In this session we will be introducing the concept of the 4th trimester, by looking at the postnatal period as a linear progression of pregnancy. Prepare with confidence for this special time following birth.
Please contact me for more details and pricing.
How is the Covid-19 pandemic affecting doula support?
Since March 2020 many hospitals and NHS Trusts have placed strict limits on number of people that can accompany a birthing person within a hospital setting. Currently this support is limited to just one person. There are also some persisting rules about when your lone birth partner can join you, with some hospitals only allowing them in to support you once you are 7cm+ dilated.
So why hire a doula if they are not going to be allowed to accompany you (and your partner) into hospital?
Doula's provides excellent continuity of carer. Once you hire a doula, they will invest in you 110%, providing 1-2-1 support from the point of hire until your baby is several weeks old. In these uncertain times, when it seems as though you're seeing a different Dr or Midwife at every appointment, knowing there is at least one constant in your birth team, someone who has really got to know you, can make a massive difference.
I am still conducting all my antenatal and postnatal appointments in person taking all necessary precautions, and will go above and beyond to ensure that I keep you and your family safe. Over the last year I have been attending home-births as usual in Birmingham, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. If you are planning to birth in a midwife led unit or delivery suite, when you go into labour I will come out to you much sooner than I would ordinarily to provide invaluable early labour support and to assist you in timing your move to hospital. I will follow you to the hospital to make sure that you are supported as you walk through the doors, and will wait on-site until you have let me know that you are through triage and have been admitted into your place of birth. In the event you are still in early labour and sent home to wait for labour to progress, I will come home with you again to continue providing support.
Many clients have shared that they found my support even more valuable than they might have done without the pandemic. Their testimonials can be found here with further info available by request.