What is a Doula? Have you ever heard of one?
It’s a woman employed by expecting mothers to help them through pregnancy and the first weeks after birth – a woman who champions YOU for all of that time.
Doula’s are popular in some parts of the world and here in the UAE where many of us are expatriates, they can play an important role for first time mothers or those nervous about what to expect with the demands of a multiples pregnancy.
All our doctors and Obstetricians and health care providers are fabulous of course: they are amazing medical professionals whose job is to physically get you and your multiples into the world as safely as possible. But the doula’s job is to think of you and your physical and emotional journey to motherhood. How to help your pregnancy be the most positive possible. How to help you navigate both the joys and the slumps. How to maximise your potential to start out as a confident parent.
And believe me, mummies-to-be – confidence is the golden ticket! There are few black and white Rights and Wrongs: parenting is largely about having the confidence to keep going and that can be really tough with multiples!
Doula is literally translated as woman servant. Doula’s aren’t usually medically trained but they should be able to point you to their clear experience at providing this support; any professional doula training (through organisations such as Wise Hippo in the UK) and any specialist breastfeeding peer supporter or counselling experience. A doula is not there to speak on your behalf, but to help you feel confident in finding your own voice: she is there to provide reassurance without interfering in medical decisions.
Your Doula is trained in comfort techniques for labour and will attend you throughout no matter how long it takes! Should your newborns need to spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) following birth, then a doula enables your husband to go with the babies while you remain fully supported by her. She can help you in the initial stages of waiting for your milk to come if you little ones arrive earlier than planned, and with breastfeeding and hand expressing that initial and oh-so-valuable colostrum. She can be valuable link and go between while you, your husband and your babies are apart. Whether your doula is allowed into the operating theatre if your babies are being born by caesarean will be up to your obstetrician but if it is important to you then stand your ground with your obstetric team and explain that your emotional wellbeing is of great importance to you both.
So, for the many expatriate mothers in the UAE she can be part health adviser, part replacement mum and friends support network, and part personal coach for the Big Job ahead. Especially if your husband travels or has to work long hours, you can see how that could be a very valuable one for many new multiples mothers-to-be!
A Doula is an additional expense on the cusp of a lifetime of new expenses, but can be an invaluable one for many families. Doula fees can range from AED 2,000 to AED 7,000 depending on their experience and training. Be sure to meet with a few doulas to find the one that you feel a connection with. This is someone who will be with you during your most intimate and momentous life changing experience and it’s important you and your partner, as well as your doula, feel entirely comfortable with one another. Though not essential, it is highly recommended that your doula has experience of twin or triplet pregnancy, birth (vaginal or caesarean) and feeding to best support you.
Reproduced in part from Mighty Multiples – by The Different Doula, Lala Langtry White.