9:40am Tuesday 19th March 2013
By Zoie O'Brien
Pregnancy and childbirth is described by most women as the best, most emotional, yet scariest journey of their life.
Imagine then, how some mums must feel, when they have to do it alone. Whether it be because their husband is at work, or that they are a single parent, or just someone without a large support network - sometimes women feel as though they are facing the world alone.
This, is where a Doula comes in. Doulas are women who support other women through pregnancy, they model their style of care on old fashioned midwifery, they are not medically trained, but they are will offer help, advice and a shoulder to lean on.
Thirty-nine year-old Jessica Kaufman, who lives in Chigwell, says that there is a need for Doulas, as midwives do not have the time for the one on one support that women need.
She said: “I had a Doula with me when I had both of my children. “There is so much strain on the NHS that it is hard to build up a relationship with one midwife, a Doula is there to answer all of your questions when you need them.
“My husband is brilliant and he was there too, but I needed a woman who could give me that empathy, almost like a second mother.
“I think every woman should have one with them."
Doula UK is a non profitable organisation which has been running since 2001, helping pregnant women to cope with having children.
Caron Smith, 45, is the Joint Regional Representative for Essex, for Doula UK, and says that it is an old fashioned role, needed in modern times.
She said: “The job of a Doula is as old as pregnancy itself. In past times women’s sisters, aunties and cousins would help them all the way through their pregnancy and raising their children, and then the hospitals took over.
“But now, maternity units are stretched or closing down altogether.
“Times have moved on and we live so far away from our families that women can be isolated and without help. “Sometimes young mums need our help, or families who already have lots of children, there can be many reasons for just needing that helping hand.
“Doulas are not medically trained but we are women that can offer support and be with you when you need a lie down or a cup of tea, or advice, a Doula will not judge.
“We are not there to push the father out of the way. We act as a translator and help them to understand what the pregnant woman is going through.
“Happy mums make happy babies.”
To find out more about Doulas, how you can find one, or the upcoming World Doula Week, visit http://doula.org.uk/.
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