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What it’s like being a birth doula

Aimee Felus, 39, Petworth. She has been a birth doula since 2016 supporting women through childbirth and the post-natal period.

After having my son I was extremely lucky that I had a supportive family around me, but I still found it really hard adjusting to being a mum.

I thought to myself ‘wow, how on earth does anyone do this without family around!’. The lack of postnatal support in the UK is terrible, and that’s something that needs to change.

It was my own postnatal experience that galvanised me to want to do something for new parents.

What is a doula? How does it differ from a midwife?

Doulas support families during pregnancy, birth and in their early weeks and months as a new family. We provide practical, emotional and informational support and are non-judgemental.

Doulas research quality evidence-based information so we can signpost families to this information. We do not give advice or our opinion.

Doulas are not medically trained, we are an addition to the medical team, providing extra support for the family. And often at home births we’re looking after the midwife too with plenty of tea and biscuits!

What do you love about what you do?

The most wonderful thing is supporting families, but especially mums, and seeing them grow in confidence and blossom into motherhood.

Leaving a home at the end of the session knowing mum has had a delicious meal or snack, maybe had a nap, taken a shower and the kitchen is clean, we’ve had a chat through anything that’s on her mind. It’s just the best feeling because I know how much this care means and what a difference it makes.

How did it feel when you met your first family?

Well in some ways, though I didn’t realise it at the time, my first doula experience was for my sister when she had her first baby. It was such an honour to be by her side as one of her birth partners. Her birth was INCREDIBLE! Absolutely nothing like it is portrayed on TV. She was an absolute goddess.

Afterwards, the midwife said to me ‘You were brilliant, you’d make a great doula’. ‘A what?!’ I replied and the midwife explained what a doula was. I thought ‘Wow that sounds cool’, and then didn’t really think of it again until I had my own baby eight years later.

What advice would you give someone who wants to be a doula?

Go for it! It’s such an important and satisfying job.

Find a training course that’s accredited with Doula UK and enjoy the journey!

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would say do more preparation for the postnatal period and breastfeeding prep. Save some money for a postnatal doula and buy far less baby stuff! Babies don’t need stuff but mums do need non-judgemental support and nurturing.

Also, I cringe painfully when I think of the times I visited friends with new babies, cooed over and cuddled the baby and didn’t give my friend the support they really truly needed. Take food, put together a nurturing postnatal box, make tea, listen with an open mind and heart, load the dishwasher, do a spot of shopping. Your friend will love you even more for it.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.
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