What is a doula?
Translated from Greek, doula means hand servant. In our modern world, this means a birth attendant who supports the woman and her partner through her labour, giving encouragement and care that will help her to find her inner strength and ability to birth her baby.
Women often feel more relaxed calm and confident, when labouring with the support of an experienced doula. The trust that has been built throughout our contact, and continuity of care, helps the woman deal better with the ebbs and flows of the labour and enable her to let go. Research has shown that having a doula present at birth can lower a number of interventions and instrumental deliveries necessary.
I have attended many births, at home and in various hospitals in and around London, especially East, North East & Greater London. (Hospitals I have attended are UCL, St Thomas’s, Lewisham Hospital Birth Centre , King Georges’s in Essex, the new Queens Hospital in Romford, Homerton, Whipps Cross, Princess Alexander, Whittington and Newham General)
Some of these births are straightforward and others are challenging, but all are deeply rewarding. I am happy to attend any birth and will support the women’s wishes entirely. In the past, I have attended a variety of birth from the normal water birth to VBACS, twin births and uniquely have attended a double VBAC with two women.
My goal as a doula is to help create the space so that the woman and her partner find their ‘birth dance’. The labour dynamics can be challenging, beautiful, gentle and the energy between the two of them is powerful, intense, personal and funny all at once.
This is often the first time the woman’s partner has seen her in pain, or more importantly, out of control. For the partner, this may be stressful and concerning. A woman’s partner often feels the pressure of needing to know everything that is happening, at any given time.
This can create a state of anxiety and can be stressful for both the partner and the labouring woman. By having a doula present, their anxiety is reduced, and the couple will then be able to let go a little so that she can find an inner stillness; and be with what is happening in the here and now. Let’s find a way to dance your baby out.
I am really passionate about supporting couples and feel very honoured to have been invited to support the couple at their birth.
It is standard practice for there to be a meeting well before the birth, giving us time to get to know each other to build the trust that is needed for such a special relationship. I will only take on the minimum of 2 women in any month. So that I can give you that time and peace of mind, that when you call me to be at your birth, I will be there. Once I am on call, my phone will be by my side and I will always be available to answer any queries, big or small.
As a birth doula, I am on call for the 2-3 weeks before your due date and 2-3 weeks thereafter. Even if you are overdue. Yes, that’s right, there is no cutoff point until the baby is born. I will attend the birth and will be in constant communication via phone calls, text messaging and emails if needed in the lead up to labour. We will spend some time before the birth discussing and preparing for the birth. Once your home and settled, approximately 10 days (unless you want me to visit earlier) there will be a postnatal visit. If plans change, we can renegotiate where needed.
The fees that a doula charges are based on experience and the time commitment that she has to give for being on call for 2 weeks before the guesstimated date of birth, two prenatal visits, travel/expenses and also takes into account the birth and postnatal debriefing visit. Further arrangements can be made separate to this. My fee reflects that and I hope it suits your needs. I will email you these fees before we schedule a meeting.
I am afraid I cannot attend ACCESS BIRTHs offered by DUK.
Birth is the most natural thing in the world and the most important thing in the world. Having someone beside you to offer reassurance and support specific to your needs is extremely important.
In years gone by we had the knowledge and wisdom of the women folk to help prepare and keep the safe space of birth, so that the woman could birth according to her instinctive intelligence.
Having a doula present helps you achieve that. The doula is not there to replace the midwife and or the partner or family members. They offer empathetic and practical help and advise so that you can achieve the birth in your way.
How can I afford a doula?
Often in the lead up to birth family and friends don’t know what to offer you as a gift to celebrate the arrival of a baby into the family.
Why not ask family and friends to help with the cost of hiring a doula. Create a fund that people can pay into and then you can top it up if you need to.
This is a good opportunity to share the cost.
Payment is not required in one go, although some couples prefer to pay all at once. I require you to pay a 50% deposit on signing the working contract and commitment, then 4 weeks before the birth the rest is invoiced for. After the birth I will invoice any expenses and hopefully that will be paid before our final meeting after the birth.
For details of the packages on offer contact Arlene on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07976903003. www.doula.org.uk/about/arlenedunkley-wood As a member of DUK I abide by their code of conduct.
I am dedicated to continual learning and as such attend regular peer support and CPD study days. I keep current with what is happening with local hospitals and have a good working relationship with health professionals. In the past, I have been a member of MSLC in a number of hospitals situated in Barts Health – namely Queens Romford and Whipps Cross Hospital. I currently teach prenatal Yoga/Birth classes at The Barkantine Practice in Isle of Dogs.
As an Active Birth Teacher, I also offer birth preparation workshops to couples as a separate preparation.
“I was going to see Arlene for pregnancy massage and cranio therapy since I found out I was pregnant. It was a great support for my constantly changing body, plus Arlene’s knowledge made me feel stress free as she shared her opinions on many pregnancy related issues.
It became clear to me that with her calm attitude and extensive knowledge that I wanted Arlene to be our doula during the birth of our baby boy Leo.
Arlene was on a 24/7 call with her support for 2 weeks prior to my due date and was checking on me if I haven’t text her with the update.
On a birth day, she was constantly on a phone with me and eventually she decided it’s time for her to come to our house.
She arrived early in the morning and we managed to go through a lot of contractions before I noticed her approval that I was ready to go to the birth centre.
We arrived after a short ride and a small London traffic and to my happiness I learned I was already 7 cm dilated.
Arlene, was next to me throughout the whole process, again sharing her knowledge and gently giving pointers on what might help me.
Having her next to me was very reassuring and had a calming effect on both myself and my husband.
Can’t wait to ask Arlene for her assistance with our second baby! ” Urszula & baby Leo, June 2014
The birth of our second child Jonah was so different from the traumatic first delivery we had 5 years ago. Having arlene as my doula, helped us not only in the birth but in the lead up to the birth. She was able to help guide us to get the best care we needed at the hospital of our choice. We felt really PRIVILEGED to get such good care and support… I was initially really nervous about the birth.. but soon after our consultation meeting I felt at ease… Jonah was born 1st December and having my doula present helped me stay calm and relaxed. in a funny way both my partner and I enjoyed the whole labour process, even when times where tough. …. Lucy & Marc DEC 2013
Arlene was my doula for the birth of my second son in September 2011. When we first met her I warmed to her instantly and knew I would like her as my birth doula. Throughout my pregnancy she supported me and encouraged me and motivated me through her fantastic pregnancy yoga sessions. She was a brilliant companion at our special VBAC birth providing me with loving, caring support. She did anything I asked of her and I will never forget how much she helped me and my husband achieve our much wanted natural birth. A true professional and her loving, kind nature make her the perfect doula. Ozlem 2011
My VBAC birth was the most amazing experience. I was told I could not birth my baby and trusted the medics for two births 8 and 6 years previously, both of which were c-sections. But when it came to my third pregnancy, I knew I wanted do everything within my power to birth our son naturally. With the help of Arlene I was able to achieve that…. It was the most amazing experience. Both my partner and I felt really blessed to have had this experience together. Thank you. Geseire Dec 2013.