Home births are considered so 'radical' in certain parts of America that the practice can lead to criminal proceedings against attending midwives. Some American Obstetricians and Gynaecologists even sport bumper stickers saying, 'Home Deliveries are for Pizza'.
The dictionary will tell you a Doula is a "mothers maid", a Greek word in origin - one who cares for the mother. In modern use, it's a birthing partner offering knowledge, experience and support to pregnant women, their partners and families.
Ideally, Doulas build a relationship early on with the mum-to-be and her partner and family, establishing an idea of their expectations and offering a 'de-brief' of any earlier birthing experiences, as each birth is as unique as every child conceived.
Earlier disappointing labours can be put to rest as much as possible and trust built between Doula and mum-to-be, taking them towards a more positive birth outcome.
The mere presence of a woman who herself knows what the mum-to-be is experiencing can be very comforting; the more bodily and self-aware the Doula is, the more assistance she can be to a labouring woman.
Not medically trained
Doulas work independently and are not medically trained. They therefore offer no medical advice although they do discuss with clients the options laid down by the medical profession. Another vital area within their work, is to ensure the mother and father-to-be, have their birth plans followed through and are given informed choices, should any complications arise.
They often witness interventions, that with better information and explanation, need not necessarily have been accepted.
Doulas tend to prefer and advocate home over hospital births, save to say any medical reason that may endanger my baby and therefore need medical intervention.
However, they simply support whatever each individual chooses for themselves, resulting in a more relaxed and empowered mum, who can care for her baby with confidence as well as dads who benefit from the reassurance of an experienced and nurturing ‘hand-holder’ in the room.