There are many joys in being a new mother, from holding your newborn and resting together to sharing smiles and all the ‘firsts’ that you and baby discover together. Modern mothers often have less time to truly enjoy their newborns due to work and other societal pressures. Even with maternity leave, it can be hard to juggle all the demands that modern women face day to day. This is where an Ayurvedic ‘doula’ can help.
A ‘doula’ (pronounced doo-la) is a caregiver, an experienced woman who supports new mothers emotionally and practically before, during and after childbirth. The role of a doula is to ‘mother the mother’: it is her job to ensure that the new mother she takes care of is able to enjoy the tiring but meaningful time of discovery that is becoming a mother. The support a doula offers new mothers helps the whole family to feel held throughout the process, in such a way that each member of the immediate family can relax and enjoy every stage.
Today’s mother is generally not given the chance to enjoy her pregnancy, labour and new baby because of the pressures that society places upon her. Although she has a strong understanding of women’s physiology, a doula is not a substitute for a midwife or clinician, but rather acts as your pillar of emotional strength and provides practical help around the house in the days or weeks following the birth of your new baby. Doulas who offer postnatal support can work in your home, according to flexible hours, performing housework and other small tasks to ensure that you get the important bonding and rest time you need.
In Western society, mothers are rushed back to day-to-day activities with alarming speed, but in cultures that venerate the birth process, women are often confined to bed rest for up to 40 days after birth. This might be hard to achieve given the pressures of modern living, but your doula will help you experience some of the benefits of the traditional bed rest period. It is a doula’s primary aim to empower your family to stay centred during what can be a stressful and exhausting time in spite of childbirth’s many joys and discoveries.
In contemporary Ayurvedic doula assistance, doulas typically possess a degree of training and are either experienced in childbirth through having had children of their own or through having acquired deep understanding of childbirth through professional study. Doulas who are designated as ‘Doula UK’ qualified have taken an approved course and are either undergoing a mentoring process or have completed sufficient mentoring to be considered ‘Recognized UK doulas’.
New motherhood . . . the romanticised image often portrayed, can often be a far cry from the reality.