You asked

What is a doula?

A doula is someone who will provide emotional and physical support to you and your partner during the birth of your baby. There are birth doulas and postnatal doulas, the former providing you with information and support during the pregnancy and labour, and the later will provide emotional support once you have had your baby, giving guidance to new mums. A doula is usually not medically trained. They are often mothers themselves and will give advices from their own experiences and research. They have no clinical responsibilities and are totally focused on the mother’s needs.
There are currently about 1000 trained doulas in the UK. They most commonly work in hospitals but can also attend home births. However, not all hospitals welcome doulas as there cannot be a second partner present during the birth, and do not permit swapping the birth partner during labour, so it is important to check with your hospital first.
A doulas can cost between £500 and £1000 to hire although some doulas will provide a voluntary service or reduced fee for teen mums or those who cannot afford one. A birth doula is on call for 38 to 42 weeks and a postnatal doula will help a mother with breastfeeding, or if they are getting very little sleep.
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