City Moms-To-Be Seek Com­pan­ions Dur­ing Labour

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - Am­bika.Pan­dit

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

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