Heard good things about doulas but not sure where to find one in Singapore? Our expert has all the info!
Amy & Jack were so excited for the birth of their first baby. They’d done the childbirth classes and felt well prepared. They had just moved to Singapore and while Amy’s pregnancy was uneventful, she started to feel anxious about the birth. She missed her family and found the level of care in Singapore very different to what she was used to.
As per her obstetrician’s instructions, Amy went to the hospital once labour started, even though she felt it was still early. Once admitted, things took a very different turn to what she had planned. She was confined to a bed and hooked up to continuous monitoring. No one explained why or what other options were available. “Because your doctor has ordered it,” the nurses told her.
Different nurses popped in and out, making Amy worry she was inconveniencing them as they were busy with several other ladies. Ultimately, she felt alone as Jack was at a loss as to how to help. Amy was on a cascade of interventions that led to her being given drugs to strengthen contractions and pain relief. Amy had an episiotomy after only 20 minutes of pushing, and her baby was born with the help of a ventouse (vacuum or suction). Instead of the couple rejoicing becoming a family, Amy and Jack were shell-shocked.
This story is far too common in Singapore. Although having a baby is an exciting time, it can also foster fear and anxiety, especially when far from family. Navigating your way around an unfamiliar medical system is daunting enough, let alone turning up to a hospital in labour and expecting nurses and midwives, who you have never met, to understand what is truly important for your birth.
Employing a Doula is a big step toward helping you achieve a positive and rewarding birthing experience.
What is a Doula?
The Greek word “doula” refers to a “woman who serves”. Today, a doula is defined as a birth companion who supports a woman and her partner before, during and after the birth in a non-clinical role. She can be a source of information, and provide emotional and physical support.
Every woman has different needs, so a doula’s role will constantly change. In fact, it is the client and her partner who determine the doula’s role. Doulas do not perform any clinical tasks, which are solely done by the obstetrician and the nurse/midwives. Doulas can, however, offer a continuity of care that you rarely get in a hospital setting. Your doula will meet with you several times before your baby’s birthday and will come to you while you are still at home, if this is what you want. She also follows up after your birth and is able to provide contacts should you require anything post-natally, such as breastfeeding support.
Doulas have a deep understanding of how birth works and, equally importantly, how things work in Singapore, so can answer the many questions that you and your partner may have.
It’s important to note a doula is not there to take over the role of your partner, but to support him as well. Reminding him of his role in childbirth, and making sure he stays involved. Many husbands are apprehensive and we respect that. We provide a calming influence to reassure them that what they see and hear is ok, and believe me they will see and hear lots!
Said one patient’s partner, named Tim: “After getting to the hospital, [our doula] gave me confidence that things were OK when perhaps I thought otherwise. In the absence of family, she provided all the support we needed and at no point did it feel intrusive.”
At the end of the day it isn’t “how” you birth your baby that matters. It is that you felt respected, supported and made decisions that were best for you at the time. A doula should not judge your decisions, but support you with open arms and an open heart.
“Tania was a calming influence who took away unnecessary anxiety,” says one mama named Holly. “During my labour she mentored us by suggesting different positions I could adopt. She also helped my husband use different massage & pressure techniques. Her experience made her a filter for any necessary or unnecessary medical contact.”
There are several active doulas in Singapore and they are accepted into the following hospitals, providing they are certified and registered:
- Thomson Medical Centre
- National University Hospital
- Raffles Hospital
- Gleneagles Hospital
- Mount Elizabeth
- KK Women & Children’s Hospital
- Parkway East
Choosing your Doula
1. I always suggest women interview more than one obstetrician and I urge the same for a doula. This is a very intimate time for you and your partner and you want to feel comfortable with whoever accompanies you through this journey. She can be with you for up to 24 hours or longer, so you want to make sure the fit is right.
2. Ask questions!
3. Who does all the talking? A good doula should have great listening skills. After all, this event is about you, your partner and your baby. It is up to you as a couple to determine her role.
4. Is your doula certified, and if so, by whom? Some doulas only do a weekend workshop, while others study for months to become certified. How long has she been a doula?
Questions to ask a Doula
- Have you ever worked with a doctor or nurse who wasn’t happy working with a doula? How did you handle it?
- What kinds of things do you find partners feel are helpful during a birth?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- What is your policy in the event I have a cesarean section?
- Do you have a backup in case you are unable to attend my birth? Will we meet her before the birth?
- What other services do you offer (such as breastfeeding support, postpartum services, childbirth classes)?
- Can we speak with other parents whose births you have attended?
- Tell me about one of your favorite births you have attended and what did you enjoy about it?
- Have you had any challenging births as a doula and why was it hard?
Source: Childbirth International, 2012
A number of doulas currently active in Singapore include:
- Tania Grose-Hodge – 9671 8428
- Johanna Wagner – 9795 7949
- Jannah Tayib – 9382 5919
- Emeline Hare – 8298 0616
- Angelyn Seet – 9008 6556
- Kong Choon Yen – 9863 7867
- Leila Caceres – 8200 8262
More information on Doulas in Singapore can be made by contacting [email protected]