I think the role of the doula is to fit in to whatever gap exists in the woman's support team. In many ways it's an ancient role - supporting women in your local community as they make one of life's biggest transitions. Before the birth we are experienced listeners, signposters to information and resources, confidence builders helping a woman and her partner (and other children too) feel ready for birth and their new family. At a birth I find myself doing everything from sitting back, unobserved and being a comfort blanket, to practical help, emotional support and sometimes hands on help through contractions. Sometimes my most useful role is smiling reassurance at a worried partner or taking an over-zealous toddler out for a walk. Other times it's counter pressure on a woman's sacrum and explaining her 'back story' to the medical team who are usually meeting her for the first time. After birth I'm there for the 'ok what now' moments. I spend a lot of time listening to tales of difficult relatives, sleepless nights and adjusting to parenthood. I make tea, run a bath, make some lunch. I often lend slings and give breastfeeding support.
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