WELCOME HELP: Megan Lunow, expecting any day now, with her daughter Seren (20 months) and Doula Kirrah Holborn.
WELCOME HELP: Megan Lunow, expecting any day now, with her daughter Seren (20 months) and Doula Kirrah Holborn. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

A labour of love for doulas

AS A doula, Kirrah Holborn's role is to help pregnant women feel in charge of their health and their well-being.

She attended her 20th birth last weekend, a "really beautiful water birth at the Mullumbimby birth centre".

"It was lovely," the Nimbin woman said.

On the Northern Rivers, doulas are welcomed by expecting mothers and also many in the medical profession.

The Greek word "doula" means "woman servant", and in Western culture it has been adapted to "birth servant".

Ms Holborn and other doulas like her are women who are experienced in childbirth.

They provide support before the birth and during the pregnancy, and build a relationship with the woman while providing information about the birth.

The doula's main focus is on the emotional needs of the woman, not medical issues, and she will be there at the birth from start to finish.Her aim is to help the expectant mother feel confident throughout her pregnancy.

Megan Lunow, of Lismore, is about to have her third baby, and, for the second time, she will have a doula.

She said the benefits included having someone at the birth who understood your fears and concerns, and was there to provide welcome guidance and support.

While a doula is an advocate and ally for the mother, Ms Holborn says they also support the partners.

"I have always been welcome at hospitals," she said.

"Maybe it is the region of the Northern Rivers, but the midwives are happy to see me and welcome me with wide open arms.

"The midwife knows that if I am there, they can just do what they need to do - all the medical procedures, like checking the heart rates, and all the paperwork."

Ms Holborn went to her first birth six years ago.

"It was a friend of mine and I told her I could give her massage, as I was a masseuse, when she was in labour, so she invited me along to the birth," she said.

"Seeing the birth at home, in a familiar environment, was just amazing.

"I wanted to learn how to be a better birth support person so I looked into it more and found out about doulas."



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