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Doulas essential to support midwives in the hospital system

Photo: Doulas essential to support midwives in the hospital system
Australia’s only not-for-profit dedicated to providing continuous support for pregnant women – Birth for Humankind – is calling for more support for their community doula program, which assists Australian midwives and pregnant women in the hospital system.

Birth for Humankind doula and former midwife at Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital Giorgia Hall-Cook says that midwives face a number of challenges that impact upon their ability to provide continuous care for patients - and that doulas can fill that gap, providing continuity of care and then working together with midwives, alleviating some of the stressors midwives face.

“There are a variety of factors which can impact a midwife’s ability to provide continuity of clinical care for their clients. During COVID-19, these are amplified - such as physical challenges with telehealth antenatal appointments and personal protective equipment restricting movement and contact during labour and birth,” said Ms Hall-Cook.
“Midwives provide such amazing emotional support and clinical care for their clients, under a number of circumstances. The issue is that unless they are working in a continuity care model, many don’t have the opportunity to provide ongoing care within the hospital system.

Therefore, they often are unable to develop a deep and tailored relationship to suit that woman’s unique needs or circumstances.”

A doula is a trained birth-companion who supports a pregnant woman and her family through pregnancy, birth and early parenting. Birth for Humankind doulas are trained to support women who experience unique needs, such as socio-economic disadvantage or complex circumstances.

International research shows that a birth companion, such as a doula, improves birth experiences and maternal and child health outcomes, when complimenting clinical maternity care.

“Doulas help midwives. Doulas play middleman, working with midwives so they have more time to do the medical and practical side of care that doulas can’t do,” said Ms Hall-Cook.

“Pregnancy, birth and parenting is complicated. As a doula, you start to understand the individual’s complex history and circumstances. It is really eye opening in terms of the issues so many pregnant women face.

In my experience as a former midwife, and working with many midwives as a doula, we create a dynamic and impactful team. Together midwives and doulas can ensure that clients’ have the best possible outcomes for themselves, their baby and their families.”

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