An Interview with Katie Hill – Doula

Katie Hill- DoulaHi Katie. Please introduce yourself and tell us what you do and a bit about yourself.

Hello there, My name is Katie and I am Mum to two beautiful boys, Jacob (5) and Toby (2) and wife to Andrew. I live in Redditch, Worcestershire with my family (and two chickens, Daphne and Velma) and I am a Birth and Postnatal Doula

What is a Doula?

“Doula” (pronounced “doola”) is a Greek word meaning “woman servant or caregiver”. In this context, a doula refers to an experienced woman who offers emotional and practical support to a woman (or couple) before, during and after childbirth. A doula believes in “mothering the mother” – enabling a woman to have the most satisfying and empowered time that she can during pregnancy, birth and the early days as a new mum. This type of support also helps the whole family to relax and enjoy the experience.

What does a Doula do?

The services offered by a doula vary greatly according to the needs of the mother-to-be/parents-to-be. A doula’s role has to be flexible to fit in with the given situation, for example the type of support will differ for a first time mum to that of a woman who has children already. Every birth is unique and therefore every woman’s experience is also unique. Before Childbirth, I will usually meet with the mother (or couple) at least three times to build rapport and understand what the Mother wants from her birth experience. During Labour I will offer help and suggestions on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. An important doula role is also encouraging the father to participate in the birth to a level at which he feels comfortable. The most important role is to provide nurturing, continuous support and reassurance. After childbirth I follow up with a couple of postnatal visits to help the new mum settle at home with her new baby, or alternatively, the mother may decide to employ a postnatal doula for a period of 6 – 8 weeks.

Are there any proven benefits of having a Doula?

A recent study concluded that women that received continuous support during labour were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have pain medication, epidurals, negative feelings about childbirth, vacuum or forceps assisted birth and C-sections. In addition, their labours were approx. 40 minutes shorter and their babies were less likely to have low Apgar score at birth. For most of these, the best outcomes occurred when the continuous support was not a staff member at the hospital and was not a member of the woman’s social network (ie, family member or friend). The stats to support doula support are 28% decrease in the risk of C-section, 12% more likely of a spontaneous vaginal birth, 14% decrease in the risk of new born being admitted to special care and 34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience. In addition to this, a doula can bring the following benefits to the birth experience – Promote a healthier lifestyle, with low intervention and high breastfeeding success rates, offer continuity of support throughout birth, in the event of midwife shortages and busy labour wards – meaning that you are never left alone at this vulnerable time, and take care of practical issues (birth pool filling, TENS use, baby equipment etc), so the birth partner can focus on the mother

How did you train to become a Doula and what did the training involve?

I trained with ‘Nuturing Birth’, and I undertook a three day rigorous training course, and had some deep reflective practice to complete afterwards. I was then able to join ‘Doula UK’, the UK network of doulas and agreed to work to their code of conduct and philosophy. Through Doula UK, I found my mentor, and I then worked with her through each birth I supported, fully debriefing everything that happened, and gathering feedback from the families. I completed the mentoring process in October 2013, and I am now a Doula UK recognised doula. This took just over 12 months.

How many women have you supported? Does each women require a different type of support from you?

I have now supported eight families on their journey to become parents (and about to go on call for another family), and it has been a mix of first, second, and fifth babies. Some women have been on their own, some with partners, and one with a partner overseas. People choose to have doula support for so many different reasons, and of course each of these women have their own story, their own ideas and own personal needs. I cannot change the way I support women (I am quiet, tactile and soft in my approach), but I can adapt to their needs. For example, some women do not want to be touched during birth, and respond better to eye contact and verbal reassurance, its getting to know this, that makes the difference.

Can you tell us about some of the challenges a Doula faces?

A doula goes ‘on-call’ for a birth around the 38 week mark of the mother’s pregnancy, and usually stays on call until the baby is born. This means being available to go to the birth at a moment’s notice, no matter what hour or the day or night. This is exciting and fabulous for a doula, but is also not without its challenges. Childcare has to be covered, transport sorted and I cannot go too far out of the area. Luckily I have a very supportive network of family and friends.

Can you tell us about some of your successes or experiences as a Doula (perhaps how you feel you have made a difference?)

I see every birth I attend, not as my success, but the success of the fantastic women who is birthing. As a doula, I do not do a lot, apart from bring out the strength and confidence that the mother-to-be has inside her. She does the work, I just help her find the space to do it. This is where I find value in what I do. However, I do also find a lot of value in doing practical things, so parents can really spend time getting to know their new born. Things like emptying the birth pool and tidying at a homebirth, means that parents can really bask in the glow of this special time.

Finally, how does someone go about booking/finding a Doula and how could we contact you to find out more?

Please visit my website at for more details about my birth support and antenatal classes. Or to find doulas around the country, go to for full listings.

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