“If a Doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use one” – Dr John Kennell

Doula is an ancient Greek word for a woman in service of another woman, but today it has come to be know as a woman who supports a couple through labour and birth. A doula should also be a trained professional who has completed a training program and continues to update her knowledge on a regular basis.

In South Africa, a Doula is also referred to as a Birth Companion and most professional Doulas will be accredited by WOMBS, South Africa’s only accredited Doula organisation.

Why have a Doula when the father / your mother or friend will be there?

It’s normally the Dad’s who don’t see the point of having Doula present at the birth. So we ask them, would they prefer to drive a Rolls Royce or a 1983 Ford Escort? Having a Doula present at the birth is like having the Rolls Royce version of a birth experience! Doula’s look after Dad’s too, giving you the chance to regroup and refuel during long labours.

A doula brings not only an extra pair of hands to massage, take photos, bring food and water, but also provides a knowledgeable resource who can explain things that happen during birth when you don’t have the option of reading a book or looking something up on the internet. The staff may not always have the time to explain in-depthly about a treatment or procedure so your doula becomes your resource to ask all the questions you need to, and to reassure you!

A doula will be with you for the whole time, unlike various medical staff who need to come and go while they deal with other clients. She also stays after the birth and nurtures the new family so that they can focus completely on bonding in those precious first hours.

The studies speak for themselves:

Having a Doula present during a birth, in addition to other birth partners has shown:

  • 50% reduction of caesarean rate
  • 30% decrease in requests for drugs
  • Increased success with breast-feeding
  • 25% decrease in length of labour
  • 40% decrease in use of Syntocinon
  • Less postpartum depression
  • 60% decrease in epidural requests
  • 30% reduction in forceps delivery
  • Greater maternal satisfaction with the birth experience

6 weeks after the birth it was found that mothers were

  • Less anxious and depressed
  • More confident with their baby
  • More satisfied with their partner (71% vs 30%)
  • More likely to be breastfeeding (52% vs. 29%)