The word "doula" is Greek and actually means "female slave". It used to refer to the chief servant who looked after the lady of the household, including helping with pregnancy, childbirth and baby care. 

A modern doula provides support and care for mothers and couples during pregnancy, childbirth and the post-natal period.  She is not medically trained, and will not offer advice. However, she will be experienced (probably a mother herself) and will have been trained in basic birth physiology, options available during childbirth, and post-natal support including breast and bottle feeding.  Thus she will be there to support you practically and emotionally so that you can make your own empowered decisions, and will continue that support whatever those choices may be.

In the past, and in some societies around the world, there is a strong network of female supporters for a woman who is pregnant, giving birth or raising a newborn child - often consisting of close family or community members.

However, in today's western societies, many couples face these delights and challenges without these support networks.  Whilst the NHS have a plan to provide consistent midwife care, this is not yet in practice, and a woman may see many midwives during the ante-natal period, and then many more during childbirth and post-natally.

As a consequence, more and more women and couples are turning to doulas for additional support and care during pregnancy, childbirth and the post-natal period.  A doula can be there as a helping hand, a friendly face and a calming presence for a couple during these exciting times.

Evidence shows that having a birth doula significantly decreases the incidence of medical interventions, pain relief and caesarean deliveries during childbirth.  Post-natally, women supported by a doula are less likely to suffer from post-natal depression and more likely to establish successful breastfeeding.

(Kennell J, Klaus M, McGrath S, Robertson S, Hinkley C. JAMA 1991 May 1;265(17):2197-201 )

Doula Services from Reflexology for Mums

I trained as a doula with Nurturing Birth, on a course accredited by Doula UK, the non-profit association for doulas in the UK.

I offer post-natal doula services as part of my extended post-natal reflexology home visits. This can include breastfeeding help, light housework, baby care, looking after siblings or simply providing a cup of tea and a listening ear. 

Ante-natal preparation and information about birth physiology is also offered as part of my maternity/pregnancy reflexology treatment packages.

Whilst I am not in a position to work as a birth doula currently, I can advise you where to look for a doula and how you might choose one if you are interested in this service. 

As part of my post-natal Doula UK accreditation, I may be able to offer some "post-natal doula only visits" to my maternity reflexology clients on request, with a minimum of 20 hours total contact time.  In order to receive this special service, you will be asked to provide feedback as part of my doula mentoring programme.  Please call me for further information about this.