Doula support in Berlin

Who is a doula? How can she support you during your motherhood journey? And how can you get doula support in Berlin? 

To understand all of this, I asked my friend Evita some questions, who is a birth doula based in Berlin. Here are her answers.

Mother holding her baby's hands
new born baby feet

Who is a doula?

What does a doula do?

There are different doulas offer different services. As a birth doula, I love guiding families through a happy pregnancy, an empowering birth and a peaceful postpartum. We meet with families 3-4 times prenatally. We discuss the physiology of birth, about comfort measures during birth, and we determine the birth preferences (where to give birth-meaning in which hospital, birth center, or at home-, use of water for pain relief, dim lights, how to give informed consent for any intervention). We also practice breathing that comes in handy during birth, pelvic floor exercises, and depending on the woman or family we may do some meditations and visualizations.I am on-call for births 24/7 from 38 weeks of pregnancy. When contractions start, the family can call me to join them. The longest I’ve been at a labor continuously is 14 hours. After that, I might request to rest a bit and come back or I can call my backup doula to come (the family has talked to her/them already during pregnancy).In postpartum, we first do a debrief so that the family integrates the experience without any negative remnant. I then love guiding mothers with breastfeeding, baby care essentials, and self-care suggestions and I may do some light housekeeping work, grocery shopping, or cook a nourishing meal for the families. I offer 3 meetings postpartum, but if the families need more, we can agree upon it.

Doula support in Berlin

The prenatal doula appointments are not yet covered by insurance, so the family is asked to pay privately. If certain criteria are fulfilled (e.g. partner going back to work after 2 weeks, mum having serious challenges with breastfeeding or facing mental health issues) then the insurance can pay for the services of a doula postpartum as ‘Haushaltshilfe’. The family has to have a letter from their doctor asking for help to be ordered, fill in an application, submit it to the insurance and wait for their answer/authorization on the amount of hours that can be covered. Some insurances pay higher rates and more hours than others, so it can be a bit tricky.Doula services can be one of the best investments you ever made for your family and mental health. This invaluable service is definitely worth the 1500-2000€ that most experienced doulas will propose to you for a full package.

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Why did you become a doula?

I’ve always been a doula, at least partly. From an early age, all of my friends would come to me to open their hearts and be soothed. I was known for being able to calm and destress everyone!When I had my first miscarriage in California in 2017, I felt very alone and not well-guided by the medical system. A couple of years later, I gave birth to my daughter Zoé. Her birth was traumatic but I didn’t have the tools or the right support to make sense of it. Even worse, there have been voices in my environment that retraumatized me instead of helping me. Birth trauma is complex and not many people are equipped to hold it when listening.In hindsight, the person I needed in these vulnerable moments was a doula. So I left my international research career in Biology and Neuroscience to follow the doula path, to guide and accompany women and families in vulnerable moments with compassion, openness, understanding, and without judgment.My goal is to equip families with evidence-based information and to see them being empowered, ready to advocate for their needs and having a respectful and peaceful birth and a smooth postpartum.I have also faced challenges with infertility (PCOS, hypothalamic amenorrhea, miscarriages, and IVF) and I delved deeply into these topics, studying and talking with people going through them. As of recently, I have been offering sessions to women who have experienced similar challenges to reduce their stress, follow evidence-based practices and regain hope.

If you are an expecting parent in Germany, you should grab the tutorials explaining Kindergeld, Elterngeld and Elternzeit.

Doula or Hebamme?

‘Doulas are non-medical professionals. We support families on many levels: emotional, informational, and practical, but we do not perform any medical exams.  A midwife may examine you during your pregnancy to see how your baby is positioned. Postpartum, they will check your bleeding and how fast your uterus is going back to its pre-pregnancy size. They will also weigh your baby. These are acts that are not performed by a doula.
A considerable difference is that your doula will attend your birth, so you can benefit from continuous care which is proven by research to be very beneficial for your birth experience and for your mental well-being postpartum. A midwife who attends your birth is called a Beleghebamme. You can hire them too of course, but there are very few in Berlin.
Depending on what your doula is comfortable offering, they can offer you: childbirth education, help with determining your birth preferences, assistance in following your intuition and uncovering your power to be able to advocate for yourself, help with breastfeeding challenges, and practical support around the house. Ask your potential doula in your introductory meeting what exactly they offer and be sure to hire a doula that is suitable to what your needs are.’
 
Podcast

The Confused Mother Podcast

Do you want even more content on motherhood? Here is The Confused Mother podcast, where I talk to mothers and experts about everything related to motherhood and work. Click below to tune in on Spotify or Apple podcasts:

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