Dionne with client.

What's a Doula?

Reading time: 2 mins 

by Dionne Goldson, Founder DforD, Doula and Midwife

Doulas, at the risk of sounding like a complete hippy, are a continual pregnancy, birth and baby guide, up to around 3 months after birth. They aren’t clinically trained, therefore not a Midwife, but are knowledgeable, experienced and or passionate about emotionally supporting expectant and new parents with their babies. 

Different Doulas bring different skills to their craft such as indigenous and complementary therapies like aromatherapy, acupuncture, massage, Hypnobirthing, yoga and much more. Each birth is different and a skilled Doula will know common threads that make up the collective birthing experience. 

My Doula role is unique in that I am actually clinically trained as a Midwife. I went into Midwifery training after originally working as a Doula for five years. My return to Doula work was down to needing more satisfaction and time with the families I support.

I never give Midwifery advice as a Doula, nor do I diagnose, assess or treat my clients. I only work with clients that have a Midwife, which keeps my role and boundaries as a Doula really clear.

I support my clients in making their best decisions with their healthcare professionals, knowing clinical jargon, pathways (labour induction, for example) and practices (such as informed consent in vaginal examinations) are often cited as a huge benefit to the families I work with. I use all my life experience to provide a supportive experience where my clients are able to contact me via phone, text, email, video call and in-person. Simply put, I’m on their side, by their side. I’ve been supporting births continually since I was 17 and because I’m not hiding my age, that was over 25 years ago.

Often it’s believed that Doulas are obsessed with babies. In my experience, that is really not the case. We are, in fact, obsessed with supporting mothers/parents.

That obsession with caring for mothers and parents actually inspired the DforD Gown, which is included in all my clients’ birth packages. I realised how much there is a need for a dignified gown to wear in hospitals that is parent-baby focused. Made more sustainably in the UK, the gown is designed to be worn both in and out of pregnancy and is the only clinical gown that allows skin-to-skin contact.

Along with attending to my clients I provide online drop-in sessions for the charity Black Mothers Matter, free pregnancy loss consultations and offer free online resources to all via my website.

I envisage the concept of a Doula will continue to grow in the UK, especially in light of the current crisis in maternity. Because it takes a village after all.


Read more from Dionne: Really Real with Dionne 


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