City Moms-To-Be Seek Companions During Labour
When Bani delivered her second baby in March this year, she had a ‘doula’ by her side. In cities across India, doulas, who aid and advise young mothers-to-be, are a growing trend. And now a first-of-itskind Doula collective is taking shape — in Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai and beyond.
The collective was initiated by Divya Deswal two years ago. She had first supported a birth alongside a midwife in 2004 when she was in the US. Later that year Deswal started her work as a doula in Delhi.
Doula is a Greek word
and has come to designate “a woman typically without formal obstetric training employed to guide and support a pregnant woman during labour”.
Bani’s birth doula Neha Misra Mutluru highlights the often-ignored challenges a mother-to-be faces ahead of labour. “As delivery approaches, a woman seeks support to help prepare and work with her body and baby,” she said, herself a mother of two girls aged 7 and 4. The MBA graduate quit a corporate job to train as a doula.
Her pregnancies, Mutluru, taught her said that while a good hospital and family support is critical, a woman needs guidance about her body ahead of delivery. “A doula’s work involves stepping in to allow a birthing woman to make informed decisions in her most vulnerable hour of labour and the vital time when she breastfeeds,” she told TOI.
Delhi-based Deswal is now steering a mentorship programme on best practices on birth support in the Indian context. “Our job is to support the mother, guide her, help her, tell her we are with her on the journey, no matter what.”
A doula earns Rs 15,000 to Rs 35,000 per mother-to-be and caters to one to three clients at a time. They train in workshops by organisations in the US, Canada, Australia, which provide certification.
Weeks ago, Mutluru started a petition on Change.org addressing Delhi’s health minister Satyendra Jain in which she sought “baby friendly hospitals” that enable best mother-baby care. It has received over 30,000 signatures so far.
A baby-friendly hospital is a Unicef WHO project started in 1991 that aims to equip maternity hospitals that can support families in the initial hours after a birth, especially with breastfeeding.
A network of parents and birth professionals meet in Delhi