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Beyond Fertility: How Doulas Support You Through Pregnancy, Birth and After

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog will be talking about pregnancy


Meet Bere, a nurse and doula, founder of the Blissful Births Doula Directory, and host of the Worldwide Doula Podcast. Her passion for women's health began in childhood and led her to nursing and eventually to doula work. Now, with over five years as a nurse and nearly three as a doula, she supports women and families all over the world to find doula support and offer real information about womanhood, birth and babies through podcasts and blogs.


Bere very kindly gave me some of her time so that we can find out more about what a doula does, and how she can support you once you are further down that path to parenthood.


Tell me a bit about yourself and what your journey was to bring you to work in pregnancy and birthing support.


My love for everything pregnancy and motherhood-related started early. As a young girl, I took a baby doll everywhere, dreaming of the day I'd have children of my own.

After high school, I dove into nursing. I worked in various healthcare settings, soaking up experiences and skills. I considered studying midwifery, but life had other plans. The program I got into was too far from home and around that time, my husband and I were planning a move abroad. It felt like the universe was nudging me in a different direction.

so, we moved to rural Indonesia, and I decided to train as a doula with the goal of helping expat families navigate pregnancy and birth in a new environment. I've been a registered nurse for five years and a qualified doula for almost three. But honestly, my passion for all things pregnancy, birth, and postpartum has been lifelong. I’ve been the go-to person for friends and family for years, offering support and advice long before I even knew what a doula was.


What does a doula actually do, and are there different types of doulas?


A doula is a guide, a support system, and an advocate during significant life transitions, especially childbirth. We offer emotional, physical, and informational support tailored to each family's needs.

There are several types of doulas, each specialising in different life transitions:


These doulas are there for you before the baby arrives. If you're navigating a high-risk pregnancy or on bed rest, they become your lifeline. They offer emotional support, provide evidence-based advice, and help manage doctor appointments. They are your advocate, helping you make informed decisions during a stressful time.


When it's time for labour and delivery, a birth doula is your dedicated sidekick. They adapt to whatever you need, whether it's a back rub during contractions or advice on labour positions. They're the one person in the room focused solely on you, providing continuous support from the first contraction to the moment you hold your baby.


After the baby is born, the real fun begins, and a postpartum doula is there to help. They're like your personal Google for all things baby and recovery. Whether you need help with breastfeeding, understanding your newborn's cries, or just someone to listen, they’re there. They support not just the mother but the entire family, easing the transition for partners and siblings too. Some even offer overnight support so new parents can get some much-needed rest.


Beyond these, there are also doulas who specialise in sibling support, fertility, gender transition support, miscarriage and grief, and adoption. 

Each type offers unique services tailored to different needs and situations.


Are there particular people who may benefit from support from a doula more than others?


Honestly, everyone can benefit from having a doula. If you’re a woman preparing to give birth and want an un-medicated birth in a hospital. A doula is a huge step in the right direction.

If you’ve had a traumatic birth experience before, a doula can be incredibly helpful. They offer support, information, and a calming presence that can turn fear into confidence.

Even if this is your sixth child, a doula provides immense value. Every pregnancy and birth is unique, and so is the support a doula offers. Studies show that having a doula can lead to shorter labours, fewer medical interventions, and higher satisfaction with the birth experience.

For those planning a home birth, doulas are wonderful. They help navigate the process, provide peace of mind, and support the entire family. Whether you’re a first-time mum or adding another member to your family, a doula helps you understand your options and create a birth plan tailored to your needs.


How early on in the pregnancy would a doula start working with someone, and when do you work together up to?


It's best to find a doula as soon as you decide you want one. Doulas only take a few mothers each month, so their schedules fill up fast. You’ve just seen that positive pregnancy test and you’re thrilled, maybe a little nervous. That’s the perfect time to reach out to a doula. Some women wait until the second or third trimester, which is fine too. The earlier you start, the more time you have to build a strong relationship and create a solid birth plan.

If your doula offers postpartum support they won’t just disappear after the baby is born. Postpartum doula packages vary, and the support can be a lifesaver. Some doulas stay for just a few weeks, helping with the initial adjustment. Others might stick around until the six-week mark or until you feel ready to fly solo. They help with breastfeeding, newborn care, and even your own recovery.


What do you think is one of the biggest myths/misconceptions that people have about doulas?


There are quite a few misconceptions about doulas that I hear a lot. The most common, and the one that makes me laugh the most, is that a doula is only for the hippie-dippy, crunchy mum who wants an all-natural underwater birth in a yurt. 

It’s a fun image, but it’s far from the truth. 

Doulas support all kinds of births, whether it’s a planned C-section, an epidural, or yes, even a home birth. We’re not just a trendy thing you see on Instagram from rich and famous moms.

Another big misconception is that doulas are only for first-time moms. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “This is my second baby; I know what I’m doing.” Every pregnancy is different, and so is every birth. Even seasoned moms can face new challenges and questions. Having a doula by your side helps navigate these unique experiences, whether it’s your first baby or your fifth. We support you, your partner, and your growing family through every step.

The third myth is that doulas replace the role of the birth partner. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Doulas don’t replace partners; they enhance them. We work alongside partners, offering guidance and support to both the mother and the partner. Often, after the birth, partners tell me how relieved they were to have me there. They didn’t realise how much they needed support too. A doula can show partners techniques like acupressure or help them find ways to be more involved, making the experience more positive for everyone.

In reality, doulas are there to support the entire family, providing emotional, physical, and informational support from pregnancy through postpartum. We help make the journey smoother, more informed, and more connected, no matter what kind of birth you’re planning.


What is one of the biggest changes/improvements that you’ve seen when people work with doulas that may support them in their pregnancy and birthing journey?


One of the most remarkable changes I see in parents who work with doulas is their newfound confidence as they step into parenthood. They come out of their births healthy, happy, and wrapped in a bubble of bliss, even if things didn’t go exactly as planned. The continuous support and information they receive every step of the way make a huge difference.

The transformation doesn’t stop at birth. The early postpartum weeks, often overwhelming and chaotic, become much more manageable with a doula. New parents often feel like their life is falling apart, walking around in a daze. A postpartum doula helps reduce stress levels and provides the much-needed sleep parents crave. This support strengthens the bond between partners and their new baby. Yes, there will still be moments when the baby seems like a tiny, possessed demon, but managing the endless feeds and diaper changes becomes a lot easier.


If you could give 3 pieces of advice to support someone preparing for a birth, what would they be?


1. Follow your gut feeling:

Trusting your gut feeling is crucial. Since birth became medicalised, many women have lost faith in their intuition. Friends and family often say, "I felt something was wrong, but I was scared the doctors would just send me home," or "During my birth, I felt everything was fine, but then the doctors scared me into signing a form." Trust your gut. Believe that your body and your baby know what to do. Women have been birthing babies naturally for centuries by listening to their instincts.


2. Don’t believe everything your doctor tells you:

Don’t get me wrong, doctors are incredibly skilled, but they’re trained to manage complications, not necessarily normal births. Many women ask, "Where’s the doctor? Shouldn’t they be here to deliver my baby?" The truth is, if the doctor is in the room, it often means something is off. Remember, you’re the one birthing your baby. Some doctors might try to scare you into unnecessary interventions due to hospital policies or financial incentives. Trust in your ability to birth your baby; your baby is not a pizza, It’s birthed not delivered.


3. Stay at home as long as possible:

For those planning a hospital birth but wanting it to be as natural as possible, staying at home for as long as you can is key. Once you enter the hospital, you’re on a clock, and hospital policies might rush your labour with interventions. At home, you can move freely, eat, and drink as needed. In the hospital, they often won’t let you eat or drink due to policy, so staying home allows you to listen to your body. It’s also okay to have a sneaky snack at the hospital if you need it.


4. Movement is your best friend:

Contrary to what you see on TV, labouring on your back is a huge no-no for a natural birth. Movement during labour is underrated but incredibly beneficial. Women who use upright positions and stay mobile during labour have shorter labours, fewer interventions, and fewer cesarean births. They also report less severe pain and more satisfaction with their childbirth experience. When you walk or move around, your uterus works more efficiently. Changing positions helps your baby find the best fit through your birth canal, and upright positions use gravity to bring the baby down. If labour slows, a change in position often helps you find your rhythm again.


Ok, I gave you 4, but there are so many important tips I could share. It’s hard to limit it to just 4 - Trust your instincts, be informed, stay mobile, and create a birthing environment that feels right for you.


 

I hope you found this interview helpful and insightful. After speaking with Bere, I realised that the support you can gain from working with a doula is so valuable. You may well have had a very long and bumpy road to get to the point of preparing for birth, and having someone to walk you through it all, and hold your hand, would be so very reassuring.


You can find Bere on Instagram as @blissfulbirths.co and also through her website and podcast - the Worldwide Doula Podcast

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