Organisations

Bryson Sure Start Lisburn

Lisburn Sure Start aims to deliver “the best start in life” for every child. They offer a range of free programmes and services for all

AMH New Horizons Lisburn

AMH New Horizons supports the recovery of adults experiencing mental ill health who are interested in progressing towards further education, training or employment.   Services

The Rowan

Our professional and highly trained Team deliver a range of support and services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to children, young people,

Speedwell Family Support

We have three experienced family support workers in the Speedwell Family support team, our goal is to improve and sustain better mental health and wellbeing

Larne Community Care Centre

LCCC is a non-profit facility that operates various support projects for the community.   Services:   Child Care Services: Providing affordable childcare Day Care for

The Village Armagh

The Village is an inclusive space for women and children to gather and be, where they are supported and support others with compassion, empathy and

Care for Cancer

Care for Cancer is a local charity dedicated to the support of cancer patients, their families, their carers and those bereaved by cancer.  We provide

What does a Doula do?

Written by Anne Glover

Anne Glover works full-time as a birth and postnatal doula with Doulas NI. She has supported over 70 families to birth their babies at home and in hospital. She is a strong believer in empowering mothers to find their own unique way to birth and bond with their babies.

When it comes to pregnancy and bringing your baby into the world, the old adage rings true: it takes a village. The doulas at Doulas NI offers mothers and families to be a helping hand in the birthing process, from pregnancy through to postpartum and the transition into parenthood. A doula, pronounced doo-luh, provides emotional and practical help, and Doulas NI offer a wide range of support packages to meet a birthing person’s every need. 

Doulas NI is a collective of professional, friendly doulas dedicated to giving you and your family the care you want before, during and after the birth of your baby. There are four of us in the collective, Sara, Anne, Tara and Alison, bringing together our wide-base of knowledge and experience, various skills and talents to provide the best care for you. We have supported hundreds of families over the last seven years and between us have almost 20 years’ experience.  We are all members of Doula UK and abide by their code of conduct and philosophy.

All of us offer birth support in different parts of Northern Ireland.  Sara and Anne have been working as doulas since 2015 and have a wealth of experience between them.  Tara has been a doula since 2018 and also teaches pregnancy yoga. Alison is our newest doula with specialised knowledge in breastfeeding.


As well as all that, Anne and Tara are fully qualified Mongan Method HypnoBirthing™ Childbirth Educators and have been teaching couples for the last four years.  All of us have basic breastfeeding training and experience, and Alison has been volunteering as a trained Breastfeeding Peer Supporter since 2018. Tara and Sara are also qualified in the 3 Step Rewind method for trauma recovery.

We provide flexible, practical and emotional support to families during pregnancy, labour and birth, and in the postnatal period at home with your new baby.

What types of services do doulas provide and what does it involve? 

We provide flexible, practical and emotional support to families during pregnancy, labour and birth, and in the postnatal period at home with your new baby.  All our services are completely confidential.

Birth Doula package

We offer an initial free-of-charge meeting to discuss how we can work together. Once you confirm that you wish to book one of us for your birth,  a contract is drawn up and exchanged, and a deposit paid to secure your booking.  As part of the signed agreement, your doula will be available for consultations by telephone, text messages and email until 4 weeks after birth and/or the last postnatal session, whichever is later. 

There are various birth support packages to choose from:

Emerald package 

Our standard package includes a minimum of three face-to-face meetings, each lasting around two hours.  There are usually two antenatal birth preparation meetings and one postnatal visit. The doula goes on-call 24/7 for your birth, two weeks before your guess date until your baby is born. Once labour starts, you contact your doula so she is ready to go to you when you need her.  Your doula will provide continuous support to you and your partner during labour and birth.

Harmony package

Our Emerald package with a full HypnoBirthing™ course.

Rainbow package 

For parents who have experienced a loss and feel they need additional and unlimited support throughout their journey.

Sunshine package

Our virtual doula package includes one online birth preparation session, unlimited emotional and informational support via phone, text and video during labour and birth if required, and one session after the birth.

Amber package 

Last minute package with full labour and birth support only.

HypnoBirthing™ 

This is a tried and proven method to guide and prepare a birthing couple for a peaceful and calm birth.  The well thought-out programme includes tools and techniques to lose your fear of birth, gain confidence, learn new techniques, understand and trust your body, enhance your connection with your baby and partner and be empowered to birth your baby safely and with ease.  The course is offered over 5 sessions, lasting over 2 hours each, either online or in person.  

Pregnant woman with her doula, lying over a pregnancy ball.

Pregnancy and Postnatal Yoga 

Many women think about doing yoga for the first time when they are pregnant and want to take time out to stretch, relax and bond with their baby. Yoga helps to build strength, stamina and stability in your ever-changing pregnant body. You will also learn breathing techniques and postures to increase your comfort and strength as your pregnancy evolves.

Postnatal Support

After the birth of your baby, a postnatal doula will support you to be the parent you want to be! She will care for you, share her knowledge, take time to listen as you and your family all get to know your new baby. 

The postnatal period is a time of adapting to parenthood. Doula NI doulas are professional, experienced and friendly, and offer specific postnatal packages to suit your own personal circumstances.  Services may include: helping and supporting with feeding and bathing; changing and soothing your baby; taking care of your baby while you have a shower or bath; spending time with older children or looking after older children while you spend time with your baby; giving you some precious alone time; helping with light housework; cooking and laundry; helping with pets; accompanying you on outings, like walks or appointments. Doulas are sensitive to your needs as a new parent in the postnatal period and will make you aware of other support groups or local services that you may be interested in.

3 Step Rewind Method 

3 Step Rewind Method is for anyone struggling with feelings and memories related to any stage of pregnancy, birth and parenthood, both men and women.  It is usually offered over three sessions and session by session, step by step, the process aims to lift trauma symptoms and free your memories from distressing emotions.

Equipment Hire

We currently have six birthing pools for hire, TENS machines, CUBs and numerous books we loan out.  The hire of birth equipment is to support women’s positive experience in birth and is not run for profit. The funds collected from the hire will be used to replace items due to wear and tear and will contribute to the running of the Positive Birth Movement group North Coast NI and the Doula UK Access Fund. 

Pregnant woman in a belly wrap with a doula.

Why would someone want to have a doula?

Doulas provide continuous support for the whole family throughout pregnancy, birth and in the early days of parenthood.  We are there for you, to listen to you, give reassurance, increase your confidence and we certainly never judge you.

A doula takes time to get to know you and your family, so they can best support you to feel confident and safe in your pregnancy, birth and your journey into parenthood.

Doulas don’t usually medically trained and therefore does not take a clinical role, but works alongside your midwives and doctors to benefit you.  A doula will never give you advice, but will support you to find answers to your questions, and to help you make good, informed decisions around your maternity care.

Research shows that having a doula by your side:

-reduces risk of instrumental birth

-reduces need for painkillers or epidural during birth

-shortens labour

-reduces rate of induction of labour

-increases parental satisfaction with the birth experience

-lowers incidence of depressive symptomatology

-increases likelihood of initiating breastfeeding

-increases likelihood of successfully establishing breastfeeding at 6 weeks

References

Brigstocke S. MIDIRS Midwifery Digest, vol 24, no 2, 2014, pp 157-160

Hodnett ED, Gates S, Hofmeyr G, Saskala C. Continuous support for women during childbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 7. Art No: CD003766.

Doulas are there for you: to listen to you, give reassurance, increase your confidence and we certainly never judge you.

How does having a doula help a pregnant person’s wellbeing during the birthing process and the transition to motherhood?

One of the big benefits to having a doula is that they are there to support the whole family, and not to just do one specific thing, so they do what is needed, within reason!  A doula supports you to be the parent you want to be.  Whatever is needed to help a family relax and have a positive experience of life with your baby!

Doula NI’s commitment

We’re committed to supporting each other as well as the women and birthing people we support.  It is this commitment that makes our service so unique and special in NI.  We share the same values in providing the best services and care to the families who reach out to us for support, and it’s these shared values that enable us to work closely as professional doulas.  Please be assured that if your chosen doula is unable to attend to you for whatever reason, you can rely on another Doula NI to step in to support you, with the same core values.

Eva Swanston
Author: Eva Swanston

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