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Doulas: Who Are They?

Tuesday, 14 January 2014 17:06
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To tell you the truth when I first heard the word "doula" I could only think about homebirth and mothers who totally reject anything which is in connection with hospitals. Then the more I learned from them, the more I started to believe that every woman really needs a doula before, during, and after birth. During this journey I got a lot of help from Anikó Földi; a doula who helped me create this writing with a great interview.

Note: I live in Hungary (Central Europe) where things are pretty different from the USA. A lot of women there don’t even know that doulas exist.

-- How can ’being a doula’ be defined briefly?

-- A doula is a woman who has personal birthing experience;[1] a supporter who helps the pregnant woman when and in what way she needs the most. But she doesn’t decide anything for the mother.[2]

-- What kind of tasks does the doula have during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum?

It depends on what the pregnant woman wants. The doula can help make head or tail of the big amount of information; help the mother make decisions based on authentic information; and help prepare her for the birth. If it is needed she is there during the labor either via phone or personally. These are all individual decisions. It can also depend on the doula to what extent she can assume helping beside her own family.

-- In case of a c-section, how can a doula help the mother? Can she enter the operating room?

Unfortunately in Hungary doulas are “persona non grata” in the hospitals, not to mention the operating rooms. Fortunately there are exceptions, for example where there is an opportunity for the father’s presence in the operating room, then a doula may also enter.

A doula can be a big help in case of a c-section, in caring for the baby, effectuating skin contact, supporting the mother physically, helping the mother spiritually and mentally, and of course every other way that the family needs.

-- In case of homebirth what is the doula’s scope? Does she have any responsibilities?

Doulas are "laymen.” During a homebirth a doula cannot take the competencies of the midwife; it is not her task or responsibility to follow the medical / physical condition of the mother and the process of labor professionally.[3]

In Hungary during a homebirth two skilled midwives have to be present, it is regulation. The professional responsibility is theirs. The task of the doula is the same everywhere; they support the mother in what she needs: compress, massage, physical support, etc.

-- What kind of legal background do doulas have?

As the doula is a supportive person, she doesn’t have any legal or medical responsibility. Unfortunately being a doula in Hungary is not an official profession. (Although her presence should be allowed in hospitals as it is stated in the medical law of 1998 that "Every woman has the right for the presence of a major person chosen by her, during the whole birth process”)[4]

-- Is there official doula training? How can someone learn to be a doula?

There are many schools in Hungary (MoDulE Doula Training, Dona Doula Training, Békés (Peaceful) Doula Circle). In every school training is a bit different, but it usually lasts for some days to learn about being a doula, about the birth itself and the postpartum period. You can learn from authentic lecturers and therapists. As for Anikó, this beautiful world – motherhood, childbirth, being born - opened for her after the birth of her first child. It called her with such power, and more and more information got into her way that she realized she was sitting on a MoDulE training.

-- Can a doula work as it is her main job? What kind of "salary” does a doula get?

As it is not an officially registered job in Hungary, you cannot do it as your main job. The other reason for it is the responsibility towards your own family. Beside a family a doula cannot assume more than 1-2 births in a month.

As for the compensation, every doula works with different rewards. Some are volunteer, some work for a one-time salary, and some are paid after every meeting. Anikó works for about 140 US dollars during the whole pregnancy, birth and postpartum period.

-- For whom is it recommended to hire a doula?

Mostly in those cases when the mother feels that she is looking for the best way for her; she needs authentic information and wants to make head or tail of birth. For mothers who want to be in labor and give birth in the presence of a supportive person. Anikó believes that it is the biggest wonder of a women’s life when she gives birth. Women have this special power, which cannot resemble anything in the world. It’s a special joy if it can happen in an unmedicated (untroubled) way. So Anikó can recommend a helping doula to any woman who has the desire for any of the above mentioned things.

Resources:

[1] MODULE egyesület http://www.module.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=111&Itemid=76

[2] Kovács Katalin: A dúlaságról http://www.katadula.hu/a_dulasagrol.html

[3] Békés dúlakör Működési szabályzata

[4] MODULE egyesület http://www.module.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=111&Itemid=76

Read 4139 times Last modified on Monday, 17 February 2014 04:37

Dear Reader,

First of all, I'm a mother of a 2 and a half-year-old boy and a 9-month-old girl from Hungary (a small state in Central-Europe).

I was born in 1984 and from the time I remember I wanted to be a mother. As a profession, I'm an English teacher, so I work with children between the age of 6-14. I met my husband in 2002. We would like to have three children.

When I expected my son I thought that birth is very simple. I go the hospital, give life than after 3 days I go home with my baby. But for me it was not so simple, I have genetic, uncontrolled pain weakness. So I had both of my children with c-section.

Fortunately, life compensates, I have never had problem with breastfeeding. I breastfed my son for 16 months. He stopped it when I was half-time pregnant with my daughter.

I'd love to help other mothers find the bright side of having children. I'm very thankful for TBS for the opportunity to write, and for "Édes Terhem" Baby Carrying group in my hometown because they taught me a lot of thing about natural child raising which I can share with you.

If you had any questions, just feel free to ask. I'll try to answer.

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