Cath Albright – My Doula
As I awaited the arrival of my 3rd baby last Spring, I felt a rising sense of panic. We had only lived in the Saffron Walden area for a couple of months and I had been unable to find any part time help with childcare for the period either before or after the birth. With two boys aged four and two and another one due imminently, I thought I was probably going to need it. We talked through the options. Our house wasn’t big enough for an au pair and a maternity nurse wouldn’t fit the bill, as I required more than just assistance with the baby. What I really needed was someone who could be me, but better. In other words, someone who could do everything that I do for the older children and who could run the house, but who would have had a good night’s sleep and therefore wouldn’t be tired or cross.
I started asking around in my quest for such a person. Eventually, my friend suggested a doula; a friend of hers had employed a doula to help after the birth of her second baby and had found this particular lady so helpful that she had lined her up for the impending birth of her third.
I telephoned the doula (Linda Hobbs of Lindoula Services) to arrange a meeting and, shortly afterwards, she came to my house to explain the kind of help that she could offer. Basically, she would help me with anything I wished, including school or playgroup runs, shopping, cooking (for the children and us), tidying, washing and ironing. As this sounded exactly right for me, I arranged the start date for Linda to come and help us (two weeks after the birth of the baby), and paid her a deposit, based on the hours I wanted her to work for the first couple of weeks.
The Greek word doula literally means slave, but Linda was more like our saviour. Her arrival at our house in those early chaotic days was like the arrival of the cavalry. She would walk in, have a quick chat and then, if I needed a sleep, she would take over whilst I went up to bed. The greatest thing was that Linda (a mother of two grown up children) wouldn’t need any instructions; she simply carried on where I left off. She would play with the boys (including full penalty shoot outs in the garden) do the washing and ironing, make their supper and supervise the eating of it, bathe them and get them ready for bed and would read them stories if I was feeding the baby. Or if I wanted an afternoon with the boys, she was quite happy to look after the baby whilst I spent time with them.
As you may imagine, doulas do not come cheap. But, in my view, she was worth every penny, as she made the first few weeks with our new baby so much more manageable. Also, the service Linda offers is quite flexible; once you have reserved the weeks you require her for (she helped us for 5 weeks) and given a rough idea of how much you will need her in the first two weeks, she is quite happy for you to cut down or indeed, increase the number of hours she works in the following weeks, as you go along.
Overall I would say that the experience was a very positive one and that my doula helped to make a difficult time much more enjoyable. I would recommend a doula to anyone expecting a second, third, fourth or even fifth child.