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Midwives are starting to realise that doulas can provide a different type of care - and are not trying to take over.

Byline: Diane Parkes

DEBBIE Green may be about to hit 50 but that was no reason for her not to change careers and train to be a doula. In fact, it was the very reason.

A mum herself with three children, 25-year-old Ben, 22-yearold Luke and 11-year-old Rosie, it was after the birth of her youngest that Debbie, of Redditch, first considered changing her job.

"I worked as a civil servant but after the birth of Rosie I became really interested in the whole subject of babies, birth and doulas," she says. "Having Rosie was a wonderful experience in comparison with when I had the boys so much earlier.

"I became really interested in reading as much as I could about the subject and I attended a few of my friends' deliveries." But it was the big 50 which gave Debbie the push.

"I think I just realised that it was now or never if I wanted to change my career. If I wanted to do this then I was going to have to do it now," she says. "It was a passion and I wanted to pursue it." Debbie took a course accredited by Middlesex University and with involvement from the National Childbirth Trust for which she had to not only study and research but also undertake case studies.

And it was just as she was finishing the course that she met Rebecca.

"Having a child is a very intimate time in people's lives so it is really important that you have a bond with them," she says.

"You need to spend the time talking to them about what they want. Luckily, we hit it off straight away." Rebecca was actually Debbie's first professional client. And the business has continued to grow so that this spring Debbie has given up her day job to devote all of her time to the new role as doula. But she admits that many people have no idea what she does.

"When I tell people I am a doula they almost always ask 'what's that?'" she says. "I don't think it is very well known here yet. It is much bigger in America and in London than it is here. But I do think it will become more popular as more people get to know about it." And she says, as cuts have been made across the health services, her role becomes increasingly important.

"Changes in the NHS have meant that the 'care' word is not always there," she says. "Because of shortages, midwives do not always have time to spend with ladies - or their partners. And there is not always a continuity of care.

"But I think midwives are gradually realising that doulas can provide a different type of care and are not trying to take over.

''We are in no way medically trained and that is not our role.

Our role is to be a support - we are at the top end while the midwife is at the medical side." Debbie says that support can be multi-faceted.

"People choose the services they want but a doula basically has three roles," she says. "There is the ante-natal role where we are doing practical things like arranging things, setting everything in place or buying the equipment which is needed.

"Then there is the birth doula which is being there for the birth, reassuring the mum, supporting the dad.

"And the third part is postnatally when a doula can go to the couple's home to try to educate them about baby care, breast-feeding and making sure they have some time to become comfortable in their new roles." And it can vary widely on the needs of the family.

"For first-time parents, there can be all sorts of concerns because they just don't know what it will be like. There can be a tendency to read every book and try to take on every bit of advice and that can be a bit bewildering.

"The important thing is to find time with the family and find out what they are looking for."" Having a child is a very intimate time in people's lives so it is really important that you have a bond with the parents


Debbie Green with baby Ben - her work with Rebecca was her first role as a professional doula.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:May 19, 2009
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