Doula in Melbourne – Kelly Winder
If you’re seeking a doula in Melbourne and want to find out more information about having BellyBelly’s creator, Kelly, attending your birth, please see her page here.
“Having a doula was single-handedly the best decision I made about my pregnancy and birth. It gave me so much confidence and made a tremendous difference in having a positive birth experience.” — Yael
The below information discusses the work a doula does.
What Is A Doula?
Doulas (also known as birth attendants) are women, sometimes men, trained in the art of birth support.
They provide physical, emotional and informational support for a woman and her partner during pregnancy, childbirth and in the post-natal period.
Why Have Paid, Non-Medical Support In The Birth Room?
The benefits according to many studies from around the world might surprise you. Independent study reviews have repeatedly found that women and babies have better birth outcomes where the woman is supported by someone who is not a friend or family member, but also not a hospital staff member.
How Can Women Who Hire Doulas Achieve Better Birth Outcomes?
Rhea Dempsey, birth educator and trainer of around 40 years, believes better birth outcomes occur when you have the support trifecta, which means having a support person present who:
- Is known to the woman/has a relationship with her
- Can provide continuous care during labour, without shift changes
- Is trained in birth support
Only a doula is able to provide all three.
Doulas get to know you during prenatal visits in your home, so you can build a relationship with one another.
In hospital, midwives will be assigned to care for you, but are not usually known to you – they are what Rhea calls, “stranger” midwives. If you’re giving birth in the public system, you will also end up with stranger obstetricians. So you won’t know what their attitudes are about pain, pain relief and birth in general. Nor will you be able to choose them based on their philosophy.
Doulas also offer continuous, one-to-one support throughout labour, according to your needs and personal preferences. A doula does not work in rotating shifts at the hospital, and will remain by your side until the baby is breastfeeding and all is well. During labour, there may be anywhere from 1-4 shift changes.
Doulas don’t have medical training (that’s definitely a role for the midwives and doctors), but doulas are trained in the art of birth support. Also, while a doula is nurturing and loving, she doesn’t have the deep emotional attachment that may cause stress, panic and fear in relatives, friends or partners, allowing a doula to objectively look at any situation, with compassion.
Friends, family and partners can unintentionally stress out a birthing woman when they worry or panic about what they don’t understand in the birth process, or just because they love you so much and can’t stand seeing you in pain. They don’t know what’s normal and what’s not – and what to do in either case.
Doulas know labour pain is powerful and necessary, and will help all of you be as comfortable as possible.
Click here to read the Cochrane Database Systematic Review on why it’s recommended to have such birth support, external to hospital staff or someone who is not friends or family of the birthing woman.
“A twins birth, with a mother who wanted to do it her way, the hospital wanting to do it their way, three shifts of unknown midwives and a Registrar nobody had met before, husband, children and mother present as well, and a long tiring day, would be a challenge for anybody. Kelly handled it beautifully! If I was having any more children, I would want Kelly there with me again.” – Yvette
Why Have a Doula?
Continuous one-to-one care during labour from another woman who understands and is experienced in childbirth can offer significant benefits for the labouring mother and her partner.
To read about the impressive studies, check out our doula article here.
What About The Birthing Woman’s Partner?
“With our doula there, I could fully concentrate on my wife and be right by her side throughout labour. She did all the running around for us; getting facewashers, heatpacks, chasing up midwives etc. We didn’t need to worry about others being informed about our birth preferences because our doula had taken care of it all, leaving us to immerse ourselves in the experience. We were able to focus on each other and the baby, without worrying about anything else in the process.” – Marc
It’s a common misconception that doulas take over the partner’s role at birth – when in fact we encourage and reassure him along the way, supporting him to support you so you both feel a great sense of achievement and teamwork after the birth.
Doulas work side-by-side with partners, seeing their role as irreplaceable within the birth team. It makes perfect sense for the woman to have someone with her during labour to provide a deep, loving connection that only they can provide, as well as having an experienced woman there to support both of you.
As many partners will discover, supporting a woman in labour for hours on end can be a very physically and emotionally draining role, especially when there is just one of you! Having someone to cover breaks, back-rubbing, running around and bouncing thoughts and feelings off someone experienced in birth support is a great help in labour.
Studies have shown that in the presence of a doula, dads felt more satisfied with their role and mothers felt more satisfied with their partner’s role.
Partners can can enjoy:
- Less pressure to remember birth plans and things learned at ante-natal classes
- Guilt-free breaks knowing someone else is there with your partner
- Encouragement and guidance on how you can help your partner
- Emotional and physical support for you too
- Higher levels of satisfaction for the support you provided your partner
“Our Birth Attendant helped my husband to help me, by gently guiding him along. We didn’t feel for an instant that she took over his role. Instead, she brought my husband and I closer together by showing him how to offer more effective, undivided emotional support – so he felt more involved too.” — Yael
The Promise of a Doula
1. You cannot hurt my feelings in labour
2. I won’t lie to you in labour
3. I will do everything in my power so you do not suffer
4. I will help you to feel safe
5. I cannot speak for you; but I will make sure that you have a voice and I will make sure you are heard
A BellyBelly Doula Offers You:
- Nurturing support for the mother, both physically and emotionally
- Gentle massage and other comfort measures during labour and birth
- Someone who can encourage communication between medical staff, yourself and your partner
- Continuous support throughout labour and birth, until feeding is established and all are settled
- Emotional and physical support for the father, children or other friends and family present at the birth
A BellyBelly doula will fully support you and your birth intentions (birth plan) without judgement and we will not try to change your mind – our concern is not for where or how you choose to give birth but what your experience of birth is. She will be present for the entire birth, then leave once everyone has settled and feeding has been established.
A doula will also be there for you to ‘de-brief’ the birth experience during a post-natal visit.
Kelly’s passion is helping couples to create their own memorable and unique birth journey. She will remain by your side and on your team, no matter what course your journey takes.
She Does Not Offer:
- Medical exams or observations
- Listening to baby’s heartbeat
- Medical procedures or diagnosis
- Taking your temperature or blood pressure
- Making decisions for you… but she will help you with the decision making process
The role of a doula is strictly non-medical and their aim is to provide professional birth support in order to help you have the best birth experience possible, no matter which way you choose to give birth. She does not replace the role of a midwife or doctor.
“Her support showed that she is committed and motivated towards helping others achieve the kind of birth she would want for herself – one where the woman’s choices are supported, her birth preferences taken seriously and her feelings considered.” — Yvette
From the very earliest of days, women supported women in labour – and they did it very well. They were lucky enough for this to be the norm during childbirth, however these days, it’s common for the mother to birth without experienced, known, knowledgeable support people around her.
A partner may be known to her, but not experienced or knowledgeable in birth. A midwife in hospital may be medically trained and experienced, but she cannot be with the birthing mother continuously, is usually not known to her and often two or three shift changes occur in hospitals over the duration of a birth, which can be unsettling.
Getting to Know Your Doula
It’s very important that you feel comfortable with the choices you make for the birth and the people who are there supporting you, for the best possible outcome for mother and baby. Having a Birth Attendant is definitely not about having another stranger there, but rather, having someone there who you can look up to for reassurance, stability and support – and know she will be able to provide this for you.
It’s for this reason, that unless you choose not to, BellyBelly Birth Attendants will meet you on two occasions prior to your baby’s birth, in order to help you become acquainted and comfortable with your Birth Attendant. It’s also very important for the father to meet with the Birth Attendant to ask any questions and to be reassured that she will be working with him as a team.
The first point of contact with a BellyBelly Birth Attendant is by phone, you can then decide if you do or don’t want to meet with that potential Birth Attendant before making a decision. We encourage you to interview several doulas if you so wish – we know how important it is to find the right person for you in order to have the best outcome possible, so we most definitely don’t feel offended if one of us is more suited to your needs and personality than the other.
Interviewing a Potential Doula
It may feel quite daunting interviewing a person, so I have written an article and created a downloadable interview sheet to help with questions to ask. You can find the article here.
While you can choose a ‘Birth Only’ option, we encourage women to choose a support package which includes pre-natal and post-natal visits, enabling you to have the opportunity to become acquainted with your doula prior to the birth and for going over the experience afterwards. The more comfortable and relaxed with your doula, then it will make for a more relaxed, nurturing experience.