Doulas in Sussex

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March 22-28 is World Doula Week. Crawley doula Laureen Eaton gives us the low down on the role she and others play across Sussex.

The word doula (pronounced doola) is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant’ or ‘care giver’. It now refers to an experienced woman who has had children of her own, who offers practical and emotional support to a woman or a couple before, during and after the birth of their baby.

A doula believes in ‘mothering the mother’ – enabling the mother to have the most satisfying, fulfilling, joyful and empowering time that she can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new mother.

The doula movement is growing and my colleagues in Sussex want more women to be aware of the benefits of having a doula. There are doulas in East Grinstead, Forest Row, Uckfield, Crowborough, Hassocks, Shoreham, Hove, Lewes, Brighton, Worthing and Crawley. Modern women are increasingly turning to doulas for emotional support and practical help during birth and pregnancy particularly as midwives, wonderful as they are, are overstretched and unable to give one to one continuous care in the busy hospitals. Having a doula means a decrease in interventions, caesarean sections, postnatal depression, and an increase in breastfeeding success.

In addition to formal training, doulas keep up to date on the latest techniques used during birth, such as ‘Hypnobirthing’ and are supporting more and more home births. There is a real shift away from the highly medicalised births we have seen in recent years back towards women-centred care, often in the comfort of their own home.