What does a doula do to support you in the lead-up to your due date, and during labour? We spoke to renowned doulas in Singapore to find out how they make a difference...
Pregnancy and the business of babies takes quite a bit of project management here in Singapore. So you signed up for maternity insurance well in advance, you have chosen the perfect baby name, and you might even be checking out some interesting pregnancy gadgets… That’s a lot to take in! Throughout it all, right up to delivery, what’s really important is feeling supported – and this is where doulas come into the picture, especially if this is your first baby.
You might not be clear exactly what a doula does and does not do. Or you might be wondering how is a doula different from a midwife, and how will they interact with the medical staff and your partner? Well, we asked some well-regarded doulas in Singapore to expertly answer all of your burning questions. So if you’re tossing up whether another face in the crowd on the big day is worth the investment, here are some handy points to consider…
All about doulas in Singapore
What does a doula do?
A doula first meets the pregnant woman (and her partner) during pregnancy to form a relationship and to provide:
- Information about childbirth.
- Help forming a birth plan.
- Information regarding the different hospitals in Singapore and what they offer.
- A list of resources to utilise during pregnancy and postnatal, such as lactation consultants, physiotherapists, counsellors, and psychotherapists.
- Emotional and physical support during actual labour.
- Support for her partner during childbirth, not by taking over their role but by enhancing it. An extra set of hands during a long or difficult labour can be priceless.
What does a doula NOT do?
A doula does not:
- Perform any clinical medical tasks (like check fetal heart tones or do vaginal examinations).
- Give advice.
- Speak out to caregivers and interfere in their role. A doula is not an advocate, so it’s up to the woman to communicate with her caregivers during pregnancy and labour.
How does a doula help clients prepare mentally and physically for labour?
A doula will typically first find out what’s important to the client for her birth experience. Like good wedding planning, it’s crucial to have a clear idea of what you want and to plan for all eventualities. Next, a good antenatal education is invaluable. We’re spoilt for choice in Singapore when it comes to companies providing childbirth classes (including Active Birth, Bradley Method, and HypnoBirthing). A doula may also provide info on a balanced diet and daily exercise, which really helps women physically prepare for birth.
What’s the difference between a midwife and a doula?
In Singapore, a midwife is employed by the hospital and is usually caring for several women at once. The midwife is responsible for the medical wellbeing of the mother and baby, and will assist the doctor as necessary. A doula is employed by the client and is focused on that one woman and her partner. Doulas can also provide a continuity of care from pregnancy right through childbirth and beyond, whereas a hospital midwife is subject to shift changes.
How do doulas work in tandem with obstetricians and midwives?
Doulas, obstetricians and midwives are all part of the same team, which includes the woman and her partner. The common goal is to support the woman to have a safe and empowering experience and to deliver a healthy baby. There are some obstetricians in Singapore who see the benefits of doulas in the labour room, and Professor Mahesh Choolani is one of them. Doulas of Singapore is a registered society that aims to improve the connections and relationships between doulas, hospitals, and caregivers.
What is the greatest support doulas can give?
The best support a doula can provide is to remain open-hearted and non-judgemental of a woman’s birth choices. It’s also important that a birthing mother feels her concerns are being heard and respected.
How do doulas make a difference during labour and birth?
Doulas are very familiar with the birthing process and intimately know the policies and procedures of different Singapore hospitals. This knowledge helps clients know what to expect so they can make informed choices. Doulas are also there for partners at this overwhelming time. Some are shocked by the length of labour (very long or super-quick) and others are afraid of blood or babies! Doulas are there to acknowledge fears, to be that extra set of hands to massage or support a squat, and to make sure the partner eats and rests.
What does a typical doula service involve, from beginning to end?
Most doulas will meet with their clients two to three times during pregnancy face-to-face, whilst also keeping in touch via phone and email. From 38 weeks, they should be on call 24/7. They may also work closely with a backup doula to cover the unlikely event that two clients go into labour at the same time.
During the first few hours of labour (with a first-time mum) doula services will usually take place over the phone. A doula may then pick up the clients and drive them to the hospital where they’ll stay with them until two to three hours after birth. Second-time mums often have quicker labours and feel more confident, so may not need as much care or attention. A doula will then visit the hospital the day after birth and then again once mum and baby are home and settled. After that, regular follow ups over the phone (maybe every day or two) are part of the doula experience, to make sure mum and baby are doing well and have the resources they need.
Doula in Singapore and resources for soon-to-be mothers:
- Bumpwise is a group of professional doulas in Singapore who have supported hundreds of births.
- ParentLink is one of Singapore’s largest doula services.
- Blooming Births is all about changing the way you look at birth, with an aim to bring back celebration over fear.
- Four Trimesters provides doula services for labour, postpartum support, and sleep support once your baby is born.
- Wonder Births consists of experienced doulas, childbirth educators, and yoga teachers in Singapore.
- The Womb Service is a doula and childbirth educator that comes highly recommended.
- Check out Doula Lorraine if you’re looking for a more affordable doula.
- Doulas of Singapore is a non-profit organisation with a large membership of registered doulas.
Did you use a doula when you were pregnant? Share with us your experience by sending us a DM!