Bron Arnold-Briggs of Kindred Birth is an experienced birth and postpartum doula and birth photographer on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. She firmly believes birth is a sacred rite of passage. With a rise in birth trauma and postnatal depression, women are starting off life as a new mother (a whole new identity) feeling disconnected and unsure of themselves. Bron works with families to help change this narrative, providing physical and emotional support before, during and after birth. Bron explains more about her role as a doula and how they can help, below.
Hiring a doula seems to be in the ’Top 5 Must Do’s’ for newly pregnant mamas! It’s not just first time mum’s looking to engage a doula for their births even experienced ‘birthers’ still want the extra support a doula offers.
Dr. John H. Kennell wrote ‘If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.’ So what’s the deal with doulas? Why are more and more women employing private birth support during their pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
Firstly, what is a doula?
Definition of doula: a person trained to provide advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth.
Research shows that childbirth does go more smoothly with a doula: labor is 25 percent shorter, the need for epidural pain relief is 60 percent less and the Caesarean section rate is reduced by half!
Hollywood would have us believe birth is full of panic, pain, screaming and hurling abuse at our partner for ‘knocking us up’ – this is the first visual experience of birth for many young women. Fear of pain, losing control, loss of dignity and interventions (+ c-section) are the most common worries of pregnant women. In particular, the hospital birth environment often involves procedures and treatment that don’t always reflect evidence based practice. It can be challenging for families to navigate this system alone. Midwives are often busy with their own duties and have little time for personal support. A doula is dedicated solely to the family she’s working with and supporting their decisions - whatever they may be. A doula is not just for ‘natural births’ but for all families and their birth choices.
In our current culture many new mothers haven’t had much experience with a newborn, often the first baby they hold is their own. With the loss of the ‘village’ society, wisdom isn’t being passed down through sharing stories, sharing newborn care or having elders to carry a woman through this rite of passage.
Doulas can support families in a range of locations, home, hospital and birth centres and often join the family early in labour and then remain with them throughout their labour and birth and then into their postpartum transition. Because doula support is not medical, they provide physical comfort, emotional support and help communicate with health providers. Doulas don’t just support the birthing woman, they offer a great deal of comfort and support to the partner.
Birth is such a powerful transition, it’s not just the birth of a baby, it’s also the birth of the mother. Doulas help women during this space of transition – not necessarily to guide them, but rather to hold a safe space around them so they can find their own way, and develop trust in their intuition.
Helping women to come into their power as they enter this new life phase helps them to be confident in their new role as mother – strong, confident mothers.