In the past months, we’ve encountered these two questions from mums, “What’s a doula?”, and, “Where do I find a doula in Botswana?” Doubtlessly, we were excited to hear of a new pregnancy course that offers free e-doula services at The Honeycomb Hub.
The free e-doula support is offered by UK based Marie Behenna. Marie is a qualified Doula, Pregnancy Exercise Expert, creator of FitMama and author of The FitMama Method. This course is facilitated in Botswana by fitness specialist and personal trainer, Phillida.
We had a chat with the two ladies to better help us understand what a doula is, and why they saw it fit to launch the free e-support in Botswana.
What is a doula?
A doula is a compassionate, caring person who believes that pregnancy, childbirth, and post-birth recovery is a normal part of life. They’re the gatekeeper and protectors of the birthing mother.
A doula will support every mother in their choice of birth environment and way of birthing and help them to feel hope. As well as help them cope with the demands that childbirth presents.
How long have FitMama classes been running in Gaborone?
FitMama Classes have been available in Botswana since 2019.
Our FitMama teacher in Botswana, Phillida, has been living in Botswana since 2009. She became aware of the classes when her sister, Abigail, attended the classes for her own pregnancies and recovery in the UK.
She realised that this was something she would love to bring to Botswana. As it was clear to her that there was little service of this nature available to Batswana women at the time.
Fast forward a few years later, during the 2020 pandemic, classes went online and the doula support was made available to mums to help them feel less isolated. Having succeeded as well as it has, and realising online erased borders, we decided to expand the doula support to our mums in Botswana.
Even though we are in opposite hemispheres, the emotional and informational support is much the same worldwide. Empowering women with knowledge, confidence, and support when they feel at their most vulnerable. This support, coupled with the direct support from Phillida in Botswana, means mums get the best of both worlds.
What support do they offer at what stages, ie, pregnancy, birth, postpartum?
Doulas can support parents in different ways. Some will choose to be available to support during pregnancy alone, some will be available during labour and childbirth, some will prefer a postnatal support role. Many will offer all of these.
The FitMama online doula support is a free service to help women at any point on their journey with us during pregnancy and post-birth courses. By supporting online, this means we can reach women no matter where they are located, so they feel safe, listened to, and that someone can help guide them to make balanced decisions relating to their wellbeing.
How is a birth doula different from a midwife? Do I need both a doula and a midwife?
A birth doula is a supportive birthing companion, offering non-medical techniques during labour, such as breathing, massage, and helping you move into different body positions. They can be there to emotionally and informationally support you and your birth partner as this can be an overwhelming time for both parents.
A midwife is a trained medical professional. They can be a woman or man and play a key role during the birthing process. Certified nurse-midwives can do many of the same things as doctors, including:
- perform gynaecological exams
- provide prenatal care
- administer pain medications
- give labour-inducing drugs
- monitor the foetus using electronic equipment
- order an epidural
- perform an episiotomy
- deliver a baby vaginally
- resuscitate a baby
- administer stitches for birthing injury
- manage postpartum haemorrhage
It is not essential to have both a doula and a midwife, but having doula support you when your midwife is caring for you can make your experience even more positive.
Who needs a doula?
Any parent in need of support during their journey to parenthood could feel they need a doula. They may feel they would benefit from the care and attention a doula can provide and wish to enjoy the consistency of the same person being with them throughout the journey.
A doula can offer advice and information if the birthing person has concerns or questions. A doula can be a liaison between the staff’s medical jargon and the procedures that are happening. Should unexpected complications arise, a doula can offer extra information, advice, and encouragement for big decisions.
To what extent does the online doula support provide?
Online doula support aims to provide the same kind of care you would expect when experiencing support from a doula in person. To provide information to help you make your choices, tips and techniques to help with birthing, recovery and general wellbeing. As well as to help mums feel brave and know their power. Anything goes, and no subject is taboo.
The online support is available through WhatsApp groups for mums attending courses and complements the support FitMama Exercise and Birth Prep Teachers offer in person during classes.
You can attend FitMama classes with Phillida at The Honeycomb Hub, These are set to help you as a mum prepare your mind, body and baby for childbirth. Also to help you transition safely to working out post birth.
We are happily cheering on Botswana’s first official Doula, Baobab Baby – supporting families on their birth and parenthood journeys in Gaborone.
Peggie offers antenatal support; birth preparation, postnatal, breastfeeding, baby massages, and more.
We trust that this article is helpful in directing you to doula support in Gaborone. Stay tuned as we unpack this growing support for parents in Botswana.