It’s time. Suddenly we come to an age where baby swimming, our households and everyone’s wedding becomes our the topics of conversation. I think it’s actually called growing up. And yes, somehow I get to this age where I’m slowly thinking about it. And the more time passes, the more I observe and talk to recent mothers. Everyone says the same thing. Birth is an overwhelming experience, an inexplicable miracle. Sometimes it just seems to me that women are lonely or overwhelmed and need support. More than a midwife can give. This is exactly what a Doula is for. Someone who has an open ear for worries and fears and also supports in the household a bit. For me an absolute must in my future pregnancy. We met with Laurie, a very special Doula from Berlin and wanted to learn more about her and this exciting profession.
Where does the profession and the name Doula come from?
A doula is also known as a birth doula or birth companion. This profession of women helping women during birth is as old as humankind. The modern profession of Doula developed in America, stemming from the lack of continuous support during birth. The word “Doula” comes from the Greek language, meaning “female slave”.
What’s the difference to a midwife?
Different than midwives, doulas are not medically-trained birth professionals. Doulas provide continuous emotional, physical and sometimes psychological support to the birthing mother and others who may be present at the birth. Before birth, they help to emotionally prepare the mother for birth as well as explain physiology. Doulas inform their clients of their options and encourage the mother-to-be to be aware of her choices. They also support the mother’s process to discover what type of birth and conditions surrounding birth is right for her and her family. A doula’s role is complementary to that of a midwife, and in no way replaces the skills or medical responsibility of a midwife.
Why is the profession of Doula so important?
In my opinion, the process of birth demands more than one support person. If you consider that a first birth can span from early labor onwards from 6 to 20 hours, it is easy to understand why. Although the average birth is approximately 8 hours, this average includes births with interventions such as contraction-inducing medications, other medications which increase the strength of uterine contractions, which shorten the birth processas well asepidurals which can lengthen the birth process up to two hours.
What are the tasks of a doula?
The role of a doula is to support the mother’s choices, to care for her physical comfort, and also remind her of her wishes. Another role of a doula is to reassure anyone present at the birth by reminding them that the birth process is normal, albeit difficult. When needed, a doula translates between the mother and the medical staff.
How long does the contact with the doula last?
Depending on when the mother-to-be reaches out to the doula, the relationship can span between weeks or months before birth. A doula usually meets the mother-to-be and who ever else will be present at the birth between two and three times before the expected “due-date” and circa one week after the birth. The purpose of this last meeting is to speak about the birth process, answer any lingering questions and close the birth experience for all involved.
Since you have such intensive contact with the young family, is it difficult to break away from them afterwards?
A bit. Since the shared experience is so intimate, and as a doula one is a witness to a transformational Rite of Passage, the women and families I support have a very special place in my heart, forever.
How expensive are the costs?
Doula support costs between 250€ and 2.500€. This is based on the time-commitment of circa 25 hours.
Where can you find Doulas?
Both groups Doulas in Deutschland e.V. https://doulas-in-deutschland.de/doula-finden/ and the Gesellschaft für Geburtsvorbereitung Familien Bildung und Frauengesundheit Bundesverband e.V. https://www.gfg-bv.de/images/pdf/Absolventinnenlisten/Doula-15072019.pdf provide names and contact information of qualified birth doulas, many of them are multi-lingual.
Laure Reinke’s training as a Birth and Postpartum Doula at the German Birth Association (GfG e.V.) prepared her to support women’s emotional and physical needs before, during and after birth. Further training as a Feminine Healer has heightened her awareness and sensitivity for women’s vulnerabilities, possible past traumas, and challenges they face within modern society’s paradigm. More Information here: www.birthinberlin.com
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Masha is the founder of Literaa Poetry and the better half of Pedro.
She likes to write columns and lifestyle topics and takes care of the editorial staff. Read more about Masha here.