A Mummy Tales reader, 8 months pregnant recently asked me about a doula as she is contemplating using one. She was wondering if it is worth getting one. But she is not alone in her enquiry, as it seems that an increasing number of pregnant women (especially those in Nairobi) have been asking the same.
But before I go on, who or what is a doula in the first place, you might be asking.
Well, I asked around and was referred to Esther, a doula practicing in Nairobi and this is the information she gave me:
The word doula has its origins in Greece, and means ‘a woman who serves’. The word is today 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 one who provides practical and emotional support during the postpartum period.
In Kenya, you can find two types of doula’s:
The first is a birth doula. This is one who works with the expectant woman during pregnancy and during labour. After birth, this doula will usually do a follow up visit at the new mom’s home to ensure that both mum and baby are doing fine and are well settled.
When the pregnant woman is in labor, birth doulas rely on techniques such as massage, aromatherapy, visualization, positive positioning, emotional support, encouragement and nurturing to help with the process.
The doula is also an ally for the woman’s spouse or partner, who may have little or no experience with the labour process and may find it anxiety provoking. Often, the doula will help the partner find ways to support the labouring woman. A good doula supports, encourages and educates the father or partner during labor, rather than replacing them.
The second type of doula in Kenya is the postnatal/ postpartum doula.
Such a doula comes in once the mum and baby are discharged from hospital. They educate the new mom on lactation techniques, and address any breastfeeding challenges such as sore nipples, engorged breasts and nipple rejection. This doula also educates the new mother on issues surrounding expressing and storage of breast milk.
The doula educates the new mum on management of colic, infant soothing and coping skills. She also guides her on how to properly bath and massage the newborn. She also offers guidance on infant feeding and baby nutrition basics.
Esther can be found on 0722 776 210 or 0734 776 210.
Incase you didn’t know who a doula is, atleast now you have an idea. So back to the Mummy Tales reader who is 8 months pregnant and wondering if she should use one. Did you use a doula when you were pregnant or when you were a new mom? Would you use a doula if you were in labor? Is a doula necessary when you have your loved one/s there with you? Is a doula worth it? Your thoughts?