breastfeeding support oldham
breastfeeding support oldham

Six Reasons to Hire A Doula

Doula cheshire

Cheshire Doula Nikki Mather-Six Reasons (and countless benefits) for Investing in a Doula.

Have you thought about having a birth doula or postnatal doula but are unsure whether you need one? Your partner is fantastic, your mother or mother in law supportive and your best friend is your rock. Have a look at just a few of reasons a doula may be good for you and your partner and grandparents too.

1.Support for you and your family to make informed decisions. So you came away from your antenatal appointment with a whole bunch of leaflets and a folder containing an empty Birth Plan-what is next?
Hiring a doula can help you and your partner to make informed decisions by supporting you to make choices suitable for your needs. They can encourage you to do some research to find out how and where YOU would like to birth.
A doula can advocate for you to ensure your Birth Preferences are taken into consideration from the offset and she can be proactive in creating and protecting the birth space you want to achieve.

2.A doula is a continuous presence during your labour and birth. This ensures you have consistent support throughout your journey to motherhood. There is evidence to show the role of a doula is important in childbirth. Hodnett et al. (2012)1 published an updated Cochrane review on the use of continuous support for women during childbirth. The randomised controlled trial included more than 15,000 women and some of the outcomes are shown below. For four of these outcomes*, results where a doula was present throughout were better than all the other types of continuous support that were studied. The full breakdown of the report can be seen here.2

  • 31% decrease in the use of synthetic oxytocin*
  • 28% decrease in the risk of C-section*
  • 12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth*
  • 9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
  • 14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
  • 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience*

3.Pain Relief-that’s right, your doula has superpowers! There are several evidence based studies3 which show the need for pharmaceutical pain relief is reduced when the woman has continuous doula support. How amazing is that?! Women who have a doula tend to feel less pain and therefore decline interventions such as continual fetal monitoring4. Synthetic oxytocin often goes hand in hand with epidural which often leads to more intervention and instrumental births, are also often declined when women are able to make informed decisions and are consistently supported by doulas throughout their pregnancy and birth. Rebozo, massage, acupressure and hypnobirthing are some of the things a doula can support you and your partner with.

4.Breastfeeding-consistent support. A doula can help support you to get breastfeeding off to a good start. Doula UK responded5 to UNICEF’s report6 that women who had hired a doula significantly increased their rates of exclusive breastfeeding at 6 weeks compared to the national average. A survey found that women who chose to invest in a doula increased their chances of exclusively breastfeeding at six weeks by 23% against the national average. Doula support throughout pregnancy, birth and crucially, one to one support in the immediate postnatal period can provide you with the information, support and education needed to successfully breastfeed

5.Postnatal Depression and Doulas. Upto 85% of mothers may experience some ‘baby blues’ in the early postnatal weeks, however for 10-15% of women7 Postnatal Depression can be a significant life event. A Postnatal Doula can reduce the incidence8 of postnatal depression and listening to mum, being there for her, help to support the transition from womanhood to motherhood an easier ride by being there for the family unit as a whole with practical help cooking or light housework, enabling mum to make informed decisions and helping her to find her feet in the early weeks with a new baby.

6.Bonding-The Whole Family. Research9 has shown that where a doula provides support for a woman during pregnancy, birth and in the immediate postnatal period, families are emotionally more stable, easily adapt to new family dynamics and have less negative aspects surrounding their birth. In turn these positive outcomes reduce postnatal depression and increase breastfeeding incidence as discussed above. Dad is in need of support too and the whole family are empowered by the doulas presence, partners have a sidekick to provide them some emotional support or some much needed rest during births.

Overall, there is no known evidence against the support a doula can provide and countless research based papers are available from across the world supporting the need for birth companions. All women should be enabled to have support during this precious time in their lives. Cake and tea is an obvious bonus for all! You can find a doula in your area on the Doula UK website10 or by searching doulas via Google in your area.

Cheshire Doula Nikki Mather provides support across the North West for pregnancy, birth and in the crucial early days with your newborn.


The Curse of the Baby Whisperers

Nikki Mather IBCLC, Doula and Lactation Consultant talks about sleep and feeding “training”, and how strict routines are not biologically aligned with infant care.

In society today there is such a huge difference when it comes to parenting styles in a variety of different communities. Should we be falling into the commercial world of prams, bottles, formula, baby food jars, bouncers-as society we seem to do as others do, or should we be nurturing our offspring by moving away from what is considered ‘normal’ and prepare our children for adulthood on a biologically normal pathway; listening to our own bodies and the needs of our babies.

Babies, toddlers, children; no manual!! Why no instructions?

Gina Ford’s ‘Contented Little Baby Book’ tells us she can fix all the problems which stem from Mother Nature’s omission of an instruction book by supplying us with her self devised code, a manual in order to complete the ritual of parenthood and survive that first year, without every experiencing parenthood herself. Working with 12 hour time periods, 7am-7pm, Gina Ford tells us that strict feeding regimes and sleeping patterns are the only way our babies should be nurtured-leaving babies to cry for periods of time so they can ‘adapt’ into self-settling techniques by being ‘taught how to sleep’.
The issue with this is that babies, quickly become despondent, amd as clever as they are, realise that crying is actually a waste of time and energy. In order to conserve energy, they tend to then fall asleep exhausted from the crying and screaming, with the harsh reality that their caregiver will not be there for them in times of distress. Recent studies over the past few years show that ‘controlled crying’ or ‘crying it out’ can be damaging to neurological connections and the continually rapid development of the newborn brain. Sleeping with our babies, whether co-sleeping in the right conditions or sharing the room with baby not only ensures baby’s needs are immediately met but it cannot be ignored that this practice, which is the norm in large communities across the world, reduces the risk of SIDS-Sudden
Infant Death Syndrome – no mention of that though as co-sleeping would go against the grain of and follow the trend of the abundant non – evidence based ‘advice’ of the Gina Ford Philosophy.

Feeding babies on a schedule, instead of feeding on on baby’s cues can be just as damaging, irrespective of whether baby is receiving breastmilk or formula. Gina tells us that feeding 4 hourly is the norm and must be regulated. Feeds must be at 7am, 11am and not a second earlier, and do not dare to enter the separate-room-on-the-other-side-of-the-house your baby is crying in, should they dare to awaken before Gina says they should. Picking your child up at that point-your child has won, according to Miss Ford. Evil, coercing, manipulative babies! *tongue firmly in cheek*.

Brought into the brightness of day, is the Gina Ford assumption that you have birthed a milk-guzzling, sleep depriving, screaming human into the universe to disrupt your life for the rest of eternity! Unfortunately, what could have been a great book *cough* ended up telling mums that baby was broken or their parents were inadequate-6 feeds in a 24 hour period, especially in a breastfed baby, will most likely be detrimental to the breastfeeding dyads relationship; regular feeds are needed to ensure your supply is sufficient and your babies needs are met when you parent in a child-led environment.

The Gina Ford suggestion of expressing milk to ‘see how much baby gets at a feed’ is irresponsible and inaccurate, and is just one more way for a mum to doubt her body and the skills evolution has supplied her with.
Gina Ford’s way of making a living is to force new parents into feeling inadequate and unable to cope, using her regimented, prescriptive regimes and schedules. She disappointingly underpins the societal belief that babies should sleep through the night from day 6, should take 6oz on week 6 and will not settle unless they are left alone and cry themselves to sleep six times every day. When these ridiculous and somewhat dangerous routines fail, parents feel they have failed themselves, their families and their babies.

What happened? What happened to nurturing our young? Biologically caring for our young, keeping them close, sleeping, eating and drinking with them, comforting them. It all came to a stand still when society started to get busy and began to use the tips, tricks and commercialised baby rearing objects of a ‘let-somebody-else-mind-the-baby’ ideology; prams and cots, separate rooms and bouncers-anything to avoid picking your baby up and giving them the love and security needed. Arms to hold, hands to caress soft faces, breasts to comfort and feed and nurture.

Instead, the likes of Gina Ford have stepped into the long line of other ‘experts’, existing only to berate and ridicule biological nurturing of the newborn. Cuddle, pick up, feed, kiss, cuddle again; listen to your instincts, and follow what you feel is right for you and your baby. One day, humans everywhere will accept biological norms. Time for a change; EDUCATE.