questions and answers about my doula work in the Netherlands
Historically, women have generally been attended and supported by other women during labour. Since birth has moved into the hospitals and because our societies are built of smaller families than before, the experienced female companion who would come over once labour starts is not available in every community. When looking for a name for this modern version of a person providing labour support the Greek word δούλα – meaning servant woman – was used. A doula is a non medical professional, experienced in the physiology of labour and birth and offers continuous support, encouragement and comfort measures. Doulas do not check vitals, do not advise on medical procedures and do not speak to medical staff on behalf of their clients.
The most important extra element that a doula brings into birth support is continuous presence during birth. Whereas a midwife might come and go to check on other patients in their care a doula remains with the mother during birth, offering relaxation and breathing technique support, as well as comforting services like massage, and assistance with labor positions.
My main job as a doula is to provide information during pregnancy and to offer unbiased emotional and physical support during birth. I have no more than 2 clients a month so when I am on call I can can offer my undisturbed attention for my clients.
If you are interested in the evidence for doulas in detail, (“continuous support during labour may improve outcomes for women and infants, including increased spontaneous vaginal birth, shorter duration of labour, and decreased Cesarean birth, instrumental vaginal birth, use of any analgesia, use of regional analgesia, low five-minute Apgar score and negative feelings about childbirth experiences”) then read this article on the Evidence Based Birth website: Evidence on doulas
I am being taken care of by a midwife/midwifery practice, what can you as a doula offer for me in addition?
Me as a doula on the other hand support you during the entire duration of the birth, regardless of its length. I stay in contact with my clients in early labour as well and usually meet them at home during this time. When it is time to go to the hospital we go together, so I am also able to support them on the way.
The longest birth I have ever supported lasted 46 hours (9 hours at home, 32 hours in the hospital), during which 4 shift changes occurred at the hospital.
To read more about my doula services click here.
Because midwives and doulas have different responsibilities and duties, together with your partner we make up of a great birth team!
If you are expecting your first baby, you are both doing this for the first time. For your partner to be a sole support for someone for 10-20 hours may be physically and emotionally taxing.
I believe partners also should feel safe and heard during the birth of their baby, their experience matters. They should be involved and enjoy the events unfolding as much as they feel comfortable without feeling the need to stay constantly vigilant.
During our preparation for birth I pay special attention to address worries, fears and wishes of partners and inform and educate them about possible ways of physical and mental support.
I also bring in my expertise in finding the right words in stressful situations, being familiar with hospital procedures and ways of communicating with medical staff to help you and your partner to navigate your birth experience.
This is a map of all the hospitals in the Netherlands, hospitals marked green are the ones where doulas are also welcome.
In Amsterdam at this moment there are 4 hospitals welcoming doulas:
- OLVG West
- OLVG Oost
- Amstelland Hospital
- Amsterdam UMC location AMC