Expert tips: Doulas, pregnancy and birth companions

Who are the doulas? Doulas are a familiar support to the pregnant women who ask for their services. 

They ensure a reassuring presence and demonstrate a kind and compassionate listening. Due to their intimate presence with the couples they accompany during and after pregnancy, they are given a very special role. 

Since Antiquity, the doula has been a person who provides moral, practical support and guidance to pregnant women or couples during pregnancy, birth and neonatal period. 

Many questions arise regarding the doula profession: what are her abilities? Can she substitute a midwife’s monitoring?

Enfance Paris has gathered Clarisse Hello’s generous testimony. Clarisse, who works as a doula, nicely accepted to enlighten us about this profession that still remains little known to many and to share with us her advice for young parents.


Hello Clarisse, could you quickly introduce yourself?

I’m Clarisse, mom of a 16 years old young girl. I’m from Normandy and have been adopted since 2017 by the inhabitants of Aussois, a village in the Savoy region. Nowadays I’m working as a mother, as a holiday family center manager and as a doula.

How did you discover your occupation and for how long have you been practicing?

I first wanted to become a nursery nurse. I got my high school diploma then applied to nurse school.  

Throughout my career and as a BAFA holder (French youth work certification) , I have worked to organize youth stays, in particular for the integration of young people with disabilities. But I also worked in the organization of events and activities for adults and families.

It was when I watched a documentary about Doulas in the UK a few years ago that, bingo!, I had a light-bulb moment. I felt the need to become a Doula, a profession that is recognised in many countries. I have always loved honoring life, being around pregnant women and babies. Since I was very young, being around them puts me in a unique joy that I can't explain.

How is a doula different from a traditional midwife ?

As a Doula, I am at the service of people and couples to prepare them for their future parenthood. I assist the mother-to-be in learning about her body during pregnancy. It will help her to prepare for an optimal labor; a labor which will be as close as possible to the needs expressed by the future parent(s). I am also an emotional coach before, during and after the birth, and I seek to bring you a great serenity throughout all this unique experience. Single-parent families totally can ask for a Doula’s services. More than anything, a doula is a discrete and safe support.

Doulas can coach parents-to-be in many topics such as : holistic childbirth support, physiology of pregnant women (neuronal and hormonal function), breastfeeding, babywearing, the baby’s psychomotor development, caring parenthood, emotional security, educational pedagogies, massage for pregnant women and babies, etc… And so many other topics for which specific training exists.

I took a “Caesarean & abortion” specific course which means that I’m able to support and guide people through perinatal loss and important decisions. I sometimes recommend them to contact other professionals if there is deeper work to be done (sophrologists, life coaches, osteopaths, kinesiologists, neuropsychologists etc.).

All this work is always carried out under the total trust of the parents-to-be. They always remain the only decision makers in the end.

Please note that I do not replace a health professional. I can only assist my patients if they are being monitored by a midwife and benefit from a gynecological follow-up. Childbirth preparation courses are reserved for midwives and qualified practitioners only (sophrologists, etc...). I do not wish in any way to do the work of other professionals. The main idea is that we can work all together for the well-being of the parents, the baby and the siblings. 

Doulas are therefore not health experts. We complete the role of health workers in providing information but especially through the emotional support of parents and their babies.

What is your typical day like?

I work as a doula in the afternoons after my job as a holiday center manager.

I can follow couples during pregnancy but also mothers during their postpartum period. In this case I propose a first meeting to establish a plan of their needs. I create small questionnaires that I share with them into a Whatsapp group. These questionnaires approach several and very different subjects, from the History of motherhood to the baby’s arrival. I also offer them meetings according to their needs, may it be alone or in couple.

There is therefore no such thing as a typical day as the needs are different from one couple to another or from one pregnant woman to another.

However, my main working tools remain: prenatal pilates and yoga movements, ayurvedic massage and breathing exercises, and finally the discussion around the upcoming or past birth.


What are your baby bath tips?

Bathtime is a special moment between the baby and his parents. It is a moment when a bond is created between them. Here are my tips for a peaceful bath:

  1. The bath should not last for long. It can be a frightening time for the baby and it is important to ensure that he or she is totalkly reassured.

  2. Prepare all products near the bath or sink in advance.

  3. Heat the room to 22 / 23 degrees.

  4. Bathing does not have to be daily between 0 and 9 months: 2 to 3 times a week is sufficient. The neck and buttocks can be washed separately.

  5. Wrap your baby up and be as close as possible to him, reassure him and talk to him while he is in the bath.

  6. Start by washing the head, as this is where a baby sweats the most. Then wash the body with gentle gestures.

  7. Wash the baby with your hands only as gloves can irritate the skin.

  8. Wrap the baby in a warm towel once you have taken him out of the bath

  9. Make the most of this special moment to do some skin to skin with your baby



Do you have a professional anecdote to share with us?

The last couple I have been working with are now parents to a 3 months old little girl. Besides the professional work we have done together, we have created strong bonds through their joys, doubts and worries. Today we keep in touch regularly. We go for walks together. I have become like an "auntie at heart" for their daughter. Their feedback has been truly gratifying and still is today. It is a great love story with all of these parents and babies!

____

Thank you Clarisse ! To contact Clarisse and benefit from her support : https://www.njdoula.fr/