Today marks the official launch of The Doula Association, a not-for-profit organisation that supports doulas to support women, birthing people and new families during pregnancy, birth and postnatally. The official launch of The Doula Association coincides with the start of the 10th annual World Doula Week - which runs from March 22 to 28 - which this year, appropriately, bears the theme: #DoulasFindAWay.
A doula is a non-medical birth worker, trained to support and care for new parents: to guide them through the pregnancy, providing answers and resources; to prepare them for the birth and their first few days and weeks with their new baby; and to hold their hands, physically and metaphorically, through the biggest transition of their lives.
“I feel extremely proud to represent this group of talented doulas as we emerge from unarguably the most difficult period that any of us have endured,” The Doula Association CEO, Kicki Hansard, says. “The past year has brought many challenges for birthing families and the doulas who support them, but the dedication, resilience, and perseverance of our doulas has improved birth and postnatal experiences for countless families across the country. Supporting each other as we support families, and working together to raise the collective profile of doulas, has seen us turn a corner in maternity care and mark the tenth annual World Doula Week with renewed commitment to our role.”
In 2020 during the Covid Pandemic, the doulas at The BirthBliss Academy felt the overwhelming need for an organised and collaborative voice for doulas in the UK - an overarching body that could both care for and campaign for doulas who were working hard to support clients despite restrictions. The success of #ButNotMaternity campaign - which we began as a way of highlighting the difficulties and maternity inequalities faced by birthing families, doulas, and healthcare workers due to the pandemic - inspired us to create a more permanent supportive structure for doulas, and the idea of The Doula Association was born.
The Doula Association now represents more than 200 highly skilled professional doulas who offer both birth and postnatal support – providing information antenatally to help clients prepare for a calm birth, staying with them during labour to provide practical comfort measures, and helping at home as the new family settles in and tackles feeding, newborn sleep and postnatal recovery. Studies show that women who choose to work with a doula are less likely to have unwanted interventions, including caesarean and assisted birth; have shorter labours; are less likely to use analgesia or anaesthesia; are less likely to have a baby who needs to be referred to special care; and are less likely to have a negative birth experience. Postnatally, women working with a doula have greater breastfeeding success; more confidence in their abilities as a mother; and lower rates of postnatal depression.
For more information about The Doula Association and the work that we do, visit www.thedoulaassociation.org. The tenth annual World Doula Week takes place from March 22nd to 28th. For more information or to find doula support near you, visit www.thedouladirectory.com.