An antenatal doula focuses on the pre-birth stage of pregnancy, before a baby is born. They provide practical information, and emotional support and advice for expectant parents in the months and weeks leading up to birth.
Doula visits will mostly take place in the mother’s home, but some antenatal doulas also accompany an expectant mother to various antenatal appointments, and to purchase essentials for the baby's arrival.
This type of doula is useful for women struggling with nausea and morning sickness, which means that they need extra help or assistance. This is similar for women with pregnancy symptoms which require rest, for example, preeclampsia. They can also assist mothers suffering with anxiety and perinatal depression, or who have older children.
Here are some of the many practical things an antenatal doula can assist with:
- Helping to formulate a birthing plan, whether in hospital or at home.
- Practicing new-born care such as bathing and nappy changing
- Accompanying mothers or parents to antenatal appointments
- Birth preparation and education
- Advising on and packing a hospital bag
- Helping with other children
- Domestic tasks such as tidying, cleaning, cooking and laundry
An antenatal doula, crucially, also provides emotional support for first-mothers, single mothers or mothers who carry trauma of any kind that they would like to work through in the lead up to birth.
An antenatal doula provides an extra pair of hands for a mother or for parents looking for additional support. They should help relieve daily stresses and ease the burden of daily tasks, allowing a mother to focus on herself and her pregnancy, as well as being a knowledgeable person to share any pregnancy concerns with. A couple can also benefit from having a third party to discuss and contemplate what life may look like after the arrival of a new baby.