A doula prevents postpartum depression

Like a temporary friend: the doula

When a small person grows up in your own belly, feelings often do somersaults. Many questions arise during pregnancy that seek answers. During this time, expectant mothers often want a reliable friend. A doula listens, asks, comforts and helps.

A doula can be like a best friend during pregnancy. Image: Pekic, Getty Images

The hospital midwife has just left the delivery room to look for a woman next door. But the pregnant woman, who has been busy with the birth of her son for hours, does not have to feel abandoned. A few weeks ago she hired a doula who had walked through the corridor with her for the last few hours, holding her hand, massaging her back, answering many questions, fetching water - in short, conveying her confidence.

A doula conveys security

Not every mother-to-be has a friend who is experienced in childbirth and who can be by her side during advanced pregnancy, childbirth and in the puerperium. A professional doula can fill that void. Especially when the father of the child cannot be present at the birth, when the first birth has been traumatic or the mother does not understand the local language, the presence of a doula gives a great sense of security and thus facilitates the birth.

The duties of the doula

The term “doula”, pronounced “dula”, comes from ancient Greek and roughly means: “woman's servant”. The goal of their work: pregnancy and childbirth should be experienced as fulfilling and positively as possible. This complements the midwife's services.

"For hours I have felt a pulling in the groin - what does that mean?", "Maria has had no digestion for 48 hours - what should I do?": The midwife is and remains responsible for such questions focused on health issues. Take childbirth as an example: the midwife leads the birth and makes medical decisions in consultation with the doctor. The doula, on the other hand, has no medical function.

Reading tip!

The doula's work depends on the trusting relationship with the mother. It is therefore important to get to know each other early on. How reassuring to know that the doula will be on call at least two weeks before the expected due date! The idea that the doula will accompany the entire delivery, no matter how long it takes, also conveys a sense of security. She doesn't just take care of the mother. Sometimes the father also needs someone to take care of him emotionally, for example if the birth takes a long time, complications arise or fears arise. The doula is also present after the birth. She gives practical support in the new everyday life with the newborn and helps the mother to process the birth experience in conversations.

What a doula does:

  • A meeting to get to know you
  • One or two preliminary talks
  • Four weeks of 24-hour on-call time (on-call duty) around the due date
  • Support throughout the entire birth (spontaneous delivery or caesarean section, in the hospital, birthing center or at home)
  • Two follow-up talks
  • Telephone and email expenses are included in the flat rate, the remaining expenses by agreement
  • Permanent contact person for questions regarding pregnancy and after the birth

(Source: Association Doula CH)

The training of the doula

In contrast to the “midwife”, “doula” is not a state-recognized profession. “A good doula does not need a lot of knowledge, but a reflective attitude and a lot of care in interpersonal contact», explains Ursula Oetiker Eggli, press spokeswoman for the Doula CH association. As part of a 16-day course, the association provides the necessary tools. "We don't take a final exam, we rely heavily on self-reflection and personal process on the way to becoming a doula." Only women who have given birth to at least one child are allowed to take part in the course, so that they can empathize with the feelings and thoughts of the expectant mothers.

Who pays the doula?

The cost of a complete childbirth accompaniment is between 800 and 1,000 francs. As a rule, the health insurance company does not cover the costs, as the services are non-medical. “Nevertheless, it is worth checking with the health insurance company whether part of it can be billed through the supplementary insurance”, says Ursula Oetiker Eggli. "Because the postnatal period has been shortened in some hospitals, it is also possible in isolated cases to settle the doula as house help with the health insurance company." As childbed companion, she supports the mother emotionally, gives tips on breastfeeding, baby care and bottle feeding, takes on light housework and looks after sibling children.

Related Links:

  • Study on the effects of doula childbirth support on medical interventions: http://www.doula.ch