doulas, doula, femme enceinte, accompagnement femme enceinte

The doula : an alternative
remedy to prepare for birth

Gynecologist, anesthesiologist, obstetrician, then pediatrician: they are the interlocutors of most Western mothers during the periods before, during and after the birth of their child. For those who would like to take a step aside and take a different approach to medical discourse rather focused on technique, valuable support is to be sought from the… of doulas

Who are they? Why use them during the period around the birth of a child?
We offer you a brief overview of these little-known doulas.

Qui sont-elles ?

A doula is intended to accompany a woman and her entourage during the perinatal period. She offers attentive listening, continuous advice and supports the woman in her choices. The word «doula» comes from the Greek «servante». But what a higher service than to serve the life that comes and upsets the body and the heart of a woman! 

Because to talk about a birth that happens is not just to talk about the tone of your uterus or the weight of your baby. It is a thousand intimate questions that arise and destabilize: a pregnancy, then a birth, it is first a leap into the unknown. How to go from couple to family?

How to accept the irremediable change of his personality, thus the awareness of his own inner discontinuity? How can one acquiesce to the loss of one’s old self in order to access the new life of motherhood? What to do with the pain of being born? How can we assume this immense responsibility of giving life, with the risk of giving death? 

Few women have the courage to testify on this intimate side, sometimes experiencing birth. It must be said that on the one hand the denial of death, on the other hand the cult of experts (leading to a fragmentation of knowledge) that exists in our modern societies prevent us

To approach perinatality as a total human experience, with its contradictions and dissonances. The dominant discourse about motherhood is both medicalized and watered down: either you are a body being examined, or an ideal “mom” being congratulated. Rarely a mother-to-be. It can be difficult to talk at heart about her experiences as a pregnant woman, as a parturint, as a young parent. 

Precisely, the doula listens to these intimate questions, to the personal history of the women she accompanies. She also provides practical assistance, thanks to her knowledge of physiology, breastfeeding, portage and mothering.

It can also help position oneself in relation to other siblings, give a boost in household chores in the first few days… 

Finally, the doula creates a link around the one it accompanies: it can advise such a health professional, propose a new vocabulary, inform about such alternative (books, birthing houses, possibility of non-medical delivery), invite to join an association, a circle of parents… Some doulas may offer in addition rebozo care, or group workshops, or sessions for spouses and fathers.

"The doula offers listening, moral support and an essential presence, which can help some women to live fully the arrival of their child, and to prepare themselves to give him this attention - which is the other name of love."

Doulas and medical staff

Like any unregulated profession, doula status can be questioned. Does it replace the doctor or midwife? The answer is clearly no: the doula is positioned as complementary to the medical approach. A doula does not perform a medical examination and does not issue an order. It can support a woman by being present at her birth, but not replace the midwife able to perform a medical procedure if necessary.

But indirectly, its role of listening and supporting helps reduce psychological difficulties, the rate of drug use and surgery during childbirth and the problems of mother-child connection in the first months of the baby.

"A doula does not perform a medical examination and does not issue a prescription. She can support a woman by being present at her birth, but not replace the midwife who can perform a medical procedure if necessary."

Tempted by the meeting?

Are you interested in the experience? Here are some practical details to guide you. 

The doula profession is free, but know that the association Doulas de France lists doulas who have taken at least 144 hours of training and adhering to a charter regarding the positioning and ethics of the accompaniment.

How much does a doula cost? One can have a pricing at the session (count between 40 and 70 euros) or at the flat rate (between 300 and 1,000 euros, very variable depending on the presence or not of the doula at the delivery, and its desired availability the time of the follow-up). 

The services of a doula do not fall within the scope of the “pre-delivery” sessions reimbursed by the Social Security. However, the role of a doula is a person services role: it is therefore possible to pay them in Cheques Emploi Service.

Conclusion

The doula is a non-medical companion who follows a woman and her entourage through this intense period of pregnancy, childbirth, and then meeting her child. 

It offers listening, moral support and an essential presence, which can help some women to live fully the arrival of their child, and to prepare themselves to give him this attention – which is the other name of love.

Text written by Lucile Gobet-Desjardins. Find more articles on our blog.

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