Volunteer doula support for mothers before, during and after birth

‘Doulas’ are trained or experienced lay women who provide social, emotional and practical support to other women during pregnancy and birth. In a qualitative interview study, NPEU researchers Jenny McLeish and Maggie Redshaw have explored the experiences of 19 volunteer doulas and 16 supported mothers at three community doula projects in England.

One paper from the study focuses on volunteer doulas at birth, examining the ways in which their continuous, empowering, woman-focused support sits alongside midwifery. A second paper considers the role of volunteer doulas working with disadvantaged mothers before and after birth. The study found that antenatal and postnatal support from doulas helped the mothers to succeed and flourish by reducing anxiety, unhappiness and stress; increasing self-esteem, self-efficacy, parenting confidence and skills; supporting them to make effective use of maternity services; and enabling them to build social ties in their community.

You can read A qualitative study of volunteer doulas working alongside midwives at births in England: Mothers' and doulas' experiences in Midwifery.

You can read Being the best person that they can be and the best mum”: a qualitative study of community volunteer doula support for disadvantaged mothers before and after birth in England in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.