The word 'doula' comes from ancient Greek meaning 'a woman who serves', and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the post-partum period.
How will a doula enhance my birth?
You can choose a birth doula or a post-partum doula, or someone who covers both areas.
A birth doula's role is to:
- Recognise birth as a key experience the mother will always remember.
- Understand the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of the woman.
- Assist the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth.
- Stay with the woman throughout the labour.
- Provide emotional support, physical comfort and objective viewpoints.
- Help communication between the woman in labour, her partner and her clinical care providers.
- Allow the woman's partner to participate at his comfort level.
Post-partum doula's role is to:
- Offer education, companionship and non-judgemental support during the last trimester.
- Assist with newborn care, family adjustment and meal preparation.
- Offer practical information on feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, baby soothing and coping skills and make appropriate referrals when necessary.
What do the experts say?
According to Mothering the Mother by Dr Marshall H Klaus, having a doula present at a birth:
- Shortens first-time labour by an average of two hours.
- Decreases the chance of a Caesarean section by 50 per cent.
- Decreases the need for pain medication.
- Helps fathers participate with confidence
- Increases success in breastfeeding.
A 2017 research from two trials for postpartum depression found that fewer women developed depressive symptoms if they had been supported during birth.
According to Dr John Kennell and Dr Klaus, the founders of Dona International, the world's largest doula certifying organisation, doula-assisted births generally have more positive outcomes. Clinical trials show:
- Caesarean deliveries:
No doula 18% ; doula 8%
No doula 55% ; doula 8%
- Forceps delivery:
No doula 26% ; doula 8%
- Successful breastfeeding over time:
No doula 29%; Doula 51%
How much does it cost?
How much you pay for a doula depends on your personal and financial circumstances and the doula herself. Prices range from an hourly rate of Dh100 to Dh600, depending on the level of education and experience of the doula. And packages (4 sessions, as well as birth and labour support) range between Dh3000 to Dh5000, again depending on the experience of the doula
Where can I find a doula in the UAE?
Belly Baby Mom is a licensed doula & childbirth support agency, providing education, emotional support and self-empowerment to mums and their partners
Little Feather Collective is another group of licensed and certified doulas. They also provide hypnobirthing, breastfeeding support, the Closing the Bones ceremony and more.
Andrea Allen of The Doting Doula is a certified doula operating in the UAE since 2008. Besides being a doula she is also a certified to give baby massages and is a yoga instructor.