Employing a doula – it’s a Greek word that describes a woman who supports the mother throughout childbirth – can be a great benefit, especially for first-time parents. In Singapore, there are many doulas offering support and guidance for expectant couples. We spoke to two women who offered their thoughts.
Do or don’t? DO, says American Elsa Oliver
Why did you decide to employ a doula?
When I was pregnant, my husband was hesitant to commit to being in the labour room with me. He didn’t think he could handle it as he had heard birth stories from his friends, and he’s a bit squeamish when it comes to blood and needles. I wanted to have a natural birth, so I knew I would need support. We thought a doula would be a good idea. Because it was my first birth, I wanted someone with me who had been through the experience and would stay with me throughout the labour.
Also, since my family isn’t here, I wanted support from more than just my husband – though he eventually learned that birth doesn’t have to be a major medical event and was a great support during the birth. I also liked the idea of having someone with me who had given birth in Singapore, so she could guide me through how things worked in the hospitals here.
What exactly did the doula do?
The plan was that we would meet at my house so she could help me with labour before going to the hospital. But my baby decided to come a month early, and it was a fairly fast labour so she ended up meeting us at the hospital.
While I was labouring at the hospital, my doula helped my husband support me by telling him how to make me more comfortable, such as massaging my back and helping me into different positions to ease the contractions. She also helped him communicate with the nurses and helped him interpret the medical jargon they were using. I used the water birthing room at Mount Alvernia, and she was there to monitor the water temperature.
My doula helped me to have the natural birth I was hoping for by talking with me when I thought I couldn’t take the pain anymore and wanted an epidural – I didn’t have one in the end. After the birth, she gave us time alone with the baby, but she stayed in the hospital to make sure I was okay. She came by the next day to check on us, and she visited us at home a few days later to answer our questions about caring for our baby, breastfeeding, the location of baby shops and how to find a new mums’ group.
Did you find her services helpful?
I found her extremely helpful. I don’t think I would have had such a great birth experience without her. It was such a comfort to have a woman who knew what I was going through. Obviously my husband had no idea! As she didn’t have any other patients to tend to, she was there just for me.
Do or don’t? DO, says American Ashley Davies
What were your reasons for getting a doula?
As a doula myself, it was an obvious choice to have a fellow doula attend the birth of my precious son. As expats we live a long way from home and don’t have the luxury of our families here for support. So having my doula by my side throughout my 20 hours of labour was a godsend!
How did she help?
Before labour, we met a couple of times to discuss my birth plan and to go over questions I had regarding the upcoming birth experience. I had a moderately long labour – Connor presented breech! – and having my doula and my husband to help me manage my aches, contractions, breathing, uncertainties and emotions was truly priceless.
Do you feel you made the right decision?
Yes. With my doula’s support, information and care, I was able to deliver my son naturally and breastfeed immediately after. She was part of one of the most magical moments of my life, and I am forever grateful!