Updated: Mar 25, 2019
In celebration of World Doula Week 2019 we will be hearing all about the services Doulas offer. To begin with, Anna will talk us through life as a postnatal Doula.
"I am a postnatal doula, registered with Doula UK. I’m happy to do many different things that all help with the transition to becoming a mother - whether that is for the first time or the fourth time.
I usually begin supporting families when a baby is younger than six weeks old and come to your home for a few hours a day for two/three days or more a week.
I provide both practical and emotional support. If you book me antenatally or when your baby had arrived, I will discuss your needs and the needs of your family and support you in the way that best meets your needs and will benefit you and your family.
I believe that every baby and every family is unique so the ways that I support each family will be different. I am there to support the whole family, not carry out a specific task.
When I begin supporting a family I take time to get to know everyone, including, fathers, older siblings and pets! If I have been booked before the birth of the baby I will have usually visited the family at home before so may have met other family members before the baby arrives and seen where things are in the home.
I support a mother to rest and recover after the birth of her baby. I am there to ‘Mother the Mother’ as I firmly believe that only when a mother feels that she is looked after and has her needs met, can she feel able to look after her baby (and older child or children).
I am there so that a new mother can have a bath, shower, nap or some much needed time to herself, knowing that she can feel confident that I am there to care for her baby.
Some of the practical tasks I do in families homes include, loading and emptying the dishwasher, putting washing in the washing machine and hanging to dry (babies are only little but produce a lot of washing!), preparing something for lunch for the mother and preparing an evening meal for the family - a slow cooker is great as I put everything in it and leave it to cook so it is ready later.
I ‘walk alongside’ the mother. I support the mother in caring for her baby, for example, changing nappies, supporting with bathing and dressing baby. I provide non-judgemental support. What I would do in the same situation or did with my own babies does not matter. It is important how the mother that I am supporting feels, what is important to her and what she wants to do. I talk things through with mothers and fathers, enabling them to come to their own decisions.
I support parents in their choices of how they want to parent e.g. whether they would like to be led by their baby or introduce a gentle routine. I provide evidence-based information, using up-to-date research to help make informed choices.
The emotional support that I provide to mothers is so important - holding space and listening to how they are feeling. As time goes on, and we get to know each other, we become more relaxed and mothers feel that they can talk to me about any worries or concerns they may have.
An important part of my role is feeding support. I support a mother’s choice of how to feed her baby. I have supported mothers whose babies have had reflux, tongue-tie and Cows Milk Protein Allergy.
If a mother is breastfeeding, I make sure that she is comfortable before she begins to feed her baby, provide her with a drink, snack - everything that she needs. If the mother would like support, I check the latch of the baby and can help with positioning so mother and baby are comfortable. I am currently training to be a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter. However, if there are any concerns I am able to signpost to Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs), tongue practitioners and local drop-in breastfeeding feeding support groups.
If a mother is formula feeding her baby, I prepare the feed for her, wash and sterilise the bottles. I make sure that she has bibs, muslins, a drink for herself and anything else she needs while feeding.
If a mother would like me to feed her baby expressed breast milk or formula I can also do that.
I also help care for and play with older children while a mother is with her baby, or I care for baby while mother is able to play with her older child or children.
You could hire a chef, a cleaning service, a laundry service, a babysitter, etc. Even with all those people at your house you won't have the expertise in care for a mother and the evidence-based newborn care I provide.
I aim to empower a new mother so that she feels confident to care for her baby and make decisions about the care of her baby, while feeling able to manage household tasks and generally feel positive about her new role as a mother."
To find out more about Anna and her services take a look at: