What is a Doula and Why do I need one?

Nowadays we can hire a coach for virtually anything we want to achieve in life. Whether we want to lose 10lb weight, earn a six-figure income, or simply just get our life on track – chances are there is someone out there available with a wealth of credentials to help us reach our goals. Within the world of pregnancy and childbirth, we can think of a Birth Doula as a coach for pregnancy; a committed companion we can call upon to support us through the childbirth experience by providing emotional support as we navigate conception, pregnancy and childbirth.

The role of a doula is quite varied and no two are the same, but generally speaking, doulas assist mums to be every step of the way: offering support during the pregnancy, being present in the delivery room, and even helping during the weeks after giving birth. It’s worth mentioning that a doula will not necessarily be qualified in the medical field (in fact, many aren’t), so it’s important to know that the role of your midwife, GP and health visitor will remain vital if you do decide to hire a doula. However, they will prove invaluable in helping you feel relaxed, comfortable and confident as you head towards the delivery date.

When did doulas become popular?

The word doula roughly translates into ‘women’s servant’ in ancient Greek, and it will probably come as no surprise to learn that they’ve existed for many years throughout history. They came into prominence across the pond in the US in the 80s and 90s before being imported to the UK some years later. The demand for doulas is said to have coincided with the time when hospital births began to eclipse home births and consequently women began to feel less familiar with the birthing process and started to feel more vulnerable in the delivery room. According to the independent.co.uk there were only 250 doulas registered with Doula UK only 10 years ago, but today there are thought to be over a 1000, and it’s estimated that over 5000 expectant mums now seek the services of a doula to help them get through childbirth.

How much can you expect to pay for a doula?

Although it’s difficult to give an exact figure of what you can expect to pay for a doula as its dependent on location and experience, services average between £500-£2000, and the price of a postnatal doula is believed to be around £10-35 per hour.

The benefits of hiring a doula to become part of your birth squad…

1. Emotional support at your fingertips

A doula would’ve no doubt experienced a vast number of births so is well equipped to deal with the emotional ups and downs you are likely to experience during your pregnancy. Hopefully you’ll also have strong support from your partner, family members and friends, which is awesome, but having someone who is able to be 100% attentive and always available to cater to your needs for the duration of your pregnancy (and possibly beyond) is indeed invaluable.

2. Having someone to advocate for your birth plans

Unfortunately, all too often we hear of women who feel that their choices concerning their childbirth plans aren’t often listened to by those in positions of authority. Having a doula on your birth squad will be beneficial because you’ll always have someone at hand who will really listen to what your wants and needs and will advocate for you as well as ask the right questions.

3. An extra pair of eyes and ears

Those who have experienced childbirth will know that there is no level of exhaustion that matches it. Hiring a postnatal doula will take the pressure off you by assisting you during those precious early days when you’re most likely overwhelmed with post-delivery fatigue, back-to-back night feeds, nappy changes and a constantly crying bubba.

4. Help you to feel comfortable both physically and emotionally during the birth

By the time you are due to give birth you would’ve likely built up a close relationship with your doula, and this will allow you to feel comfortable to open up about your innermost feelings regarding your pregnancy and impending birth. During the birth itself a doula often acts as your comforter who will cater to your whims and needs, whether it be a massage, music, comfy pillows and cushions or water.

5. There to support your partner and the rest of your family

You may be worried that enlisting the help of a doula will render your partner’s role within the birth of your child obsolete, but women who have opted to work with a doula will often say it’s on the contrary. The constant presence of someone with experience and a calm demeanour helps to put everyone at ease. A doula is there to be of service to the mother essentially but is also there to help the entire family.

Where can I find a doula?

The Nurturing Birth Directory lists birth and postnatal doulas throughout the Dubai, Doulas – Nurturing Birth Doula Directory (nurturingbirthdirectory.com)

10 Things That Are Different Now We Have Kids

1. Sunday Morning

Pre-Baby: You wake up naturally at 9 ish am, do some yoga and head out for brunch with friends. Mimosa anyone?

Post-Baby: You’re up, downstairs and on your third cup of tea by 8 am. After making breakfast, clearing up and putting the baby down for their nap, you flick on the TV to watch Sunday Brunch before realising it’s not on for another TWO HOURS!

2. Going to the Cinema

Pre-Baby: The cinema was a spontaneous and relatively cheap activity, the perfect way to kill a few hours on a rainy Saturday afternoon or post-dinner on a random Friday night.

Post-Baby: You can now only attend showings between 7 pm (their bedtime) and 9 pm (yours). You spend the entire time worrying that every bang will wake the baby, before remembering you’ve actually left the house. After tickets, snacks and paying the babysitter, the whole thing costs more than your monthly gas bill, but you’ll still feel giddy that you went out.

3. Getting Ready in the morning

Pre-Baby: Post-workout shower followed by a six-step skincare routine, you whisk up a matcha latte, while checking your emails and catching up on the news.

Post-Baby: The process is reminiscent of a formula one pit-stop. Only you’re the only crew member helping. Your kids arrive at nursery with 2 x everything they need. You turn up to work with very badly drawn eyeliner and hair that’s in definite need of a wash.

4. Flying on a Plane

Pre-Baby: Out-of-office on, you pick up a neck pillow and a facemask from duty-free before getting comfy with a glass of fizz and your first book of the holiday. Bliss.

Post-Baby: Despite waiting until the very last moment to board, your toddler waits until the seatbelt sign is on before doing the largest poo of their lives. Attempting to change them in the inexplicably small aeroplane toilet is so strenuous your Apple watch asks you if you’ve started a workout.

5. Google Search History

Pre-Baby: ‘Spa hotels in Bali.’

Post-Baby: ‘Can I lock my toddler in their room?’.

6. Birthday Parties

Pre-Baby: A day spent drinking cocktails with the girls, followed by dinner and dancing, plus brunch the next day for a thorough post-party debrief.

Post-Baby: Kids’ birthdays: You make friends with other mums based on their predictability to have wine at their children’s parties. Yours: You now drink a LOT earlier and fully confirm with your partner that they will be gifting you a very large lie-in the following day. Or the second option: you book a hotel and don’t come home.

7. Swimming

Pre-Baby: A leisurely ten lengths post-gym or a relaxing holiday past-time involving a lilo.

Post-Baby: You arrive poolside of your local leisure centre sweating profusely, having carried the car seat, two bags and the baby into a changing room heated to the temperature of the actual sun. You find out the hard way that swim nappies don’t absorb liquid as a stream of warm wee runs down your leg from the wetsuit-clad baby balancing on your hip. It takes twice the time to get ready versus the time spent in the pool, which you conclude is not worth shaving your bikini line for.

8. Illness

Pre-Baby: You wake up feeling lousy. Drop your boss a text telling them you won’t be in today before crawling back under the duvet to sleep it off.

Post-Baby: Your kids give zero fucks if you’re ill and still require feeding/changing/carrying/entertaining as usual. This is incredibly irritating, given it’s 100% their fault. You power through taking every drug you’re allowed. And if things get really bad you call the grandparents for emergency assistance and hope that the latest bug doesn’t kill them.

9. Meeting Up With Friends

Pre-Baby: ‘Hey, do you want to go out tonight? Come round to mine in an hour. Bring wine?’

Post-Baby: ‘Hey, sorry I had to cancel our meet-up at Christmas! Are you free next June?’

10. Seasonal Events and Everyday Activities.

Pre-baby: Let’s be honest, even Christmas Day had started to feel dull, and we were pretty over the 3-day hangover at Easter.

Post-baby: Mundane stuff like taking the bins out, going to shops or getting the car washed is now a fun new activity for your kids. And don’t get us started on seasonal events like Christmas. Experiencing all the stuff we were very much over through a new set of tiny eyes is one of the best things about being a parent. Sure, they’ll make it f*cking stressful, but at some point, it will have been very cute.

12 Films And TV Shows That Portray Modern Motherhood Brilliantly

Traditionally mums on TV have been portrayed in two distinct camps: kind, virtuous and respectable like Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show, or reckless and unhinged like the lovable, heavy-drinking Patsy Stone from Absolutely Fabulous. Thankfully we’ve been noticing a spate of films and TV shows that do an incredible job of showing the nuances and breadth and depth of motherhood. We showcase some of our current faves.

Workin' Moms
Workin’ Moms

Warm, loyal PR executive Kate and her longtime friend, no-nonsense psychiatrist Anne, attend a judgmental mommies’ group, where they meet timid IT tech Jenny and blindly optimistic real estate agent Frankie. The four quickly form an unlikely friendship, sharing struggles of urban motherhood filled with the chaos of toddlers, tantrums, careers, and identity crises, all while trying to achieve the holy grail: a sense of self.

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All Nikki and Jason want is a baby — the one thing they can’t have — so they decide to adopt; with their dysfunctional friends, screwball families and chaotic lives, the adoption panel may not agree they’re ready to be parents.

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The Let Down
The Let Down

New mother Audrey needs help with the new addition to her family, so she joins a support group for new parents. While attending meetings, she makes quirky friends who are facing their own challenges and life changes. Outside of the group, she seeks support from work-stressed partner Jeremy and even the neighbourhood drug dealer. As Audrey navigates the learning curve that comes with motherhood, she deals with issues that include sleeplessness, shifting relationship dynamics and Jeremy’s career ambitions.

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Having a kid is hard. Having three kids—one of whom is a newborn baby—isn’t just three times harder. The challenges increase exponentially to the point of surrealism, a sensation writer Diablo Cody and director Jason Reitman nail with their latest comic drama, “Tully.” In their third collaboration, Cody and Reitman have crafted no confectionery ode to motherhood. There’s no wacky mad dash to the hospital, followed by cataclysmic screams for comic effect. In the same vein as 2007’s “Juno” and 2011’s “Young Adult,” “Tully” unearths uncomfortable truths in a wry, wise way.

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Written by a team that includes multiple award winners Sharon Horgan and Graham Linehan, this sitcom focuses on middle-class parents and the everyday challenges they encounter. From the competitiveness of the morning school run, to the sheer pandemonium of hosting a children’s party, `Motherland’ gives an honest and amusing depiction of life as a modern-day mother or father to small kids. Armed with their own individual parenting techniques, the leading characters try their best to carry out their responsibilities calmly, tackling each humour-filled situation as it arises.

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Ginny and Georgia
Ginny and Georgia

The mother and daughter dynamic is explored with gusto in the ballsy comedy drama, Ginny and Georgia. Georgia is a confident, playful and whimsical mama who acts as both caregiver and bestie to her 15-year-old daughter Ginny, who she gave birth to at the same age. We love that Georgia owns all parts of herself (not allowing anyone to judge her for becoming a mum at 15) and revels in her femininity and sex appeal. Extra kudos to the makers of Ginny and Georgia for tackling the racial politics of the white mother/biracial daughter dynamic.

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With social activism being such a prominent feature of our society, it was only a matter of time before films started documenting this era of social change. Moxie tells the story of a shy, high school teen who inspired by her mum who has strong activist roots, creates an anonymous e-zine which she distributes throughout school to call out the social ills of sexism, racism and misogyny. Moxie perfectly demonstrates how as mothers we can positively impact our children by helping them to find their voice and use it as a force for good.

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Behind Her Eyes
Behind Her Eyes

Who else has been hooked on this six-part drama/thriller on Netflix, Behind Her Eyes? Starring Simona Brown in the lead role, Brown plays Louise, a single mum who embarks on an affair with her boss while also befriending his wife. Despite being a loving and devoted mother to the adorable son Adam (Tyler Howitt), Louise makes some questionable life choices, and we couldn’t have been the only ones frequently screaming at the TV: “Gurrrl, don’t do it”. Louise serves as a reminder that being a mum doesn’t mean you’re infallible. To be human is to be imperfectly messy.

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Life of The Party
Life of The Party

If you’re a middle-aged woman whose husband unceremoniously dumps you unexpectedly, what do you do? Well, you enrol in your 20-year-old daughter’s college to complete your degree and do-over your young adult years, of course. Life of The Party is a light-hearted comedy starring Melissa McCarthy that serves as a reminder that it’s never too late for us as women/mothers to pivot and change the trajectory of our lives.

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Firefly Lane
Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke as two besties who lead dramatically different lives and enjoy a friendship that spans several decades. Although this warm and fuzzy hearted Netfilx series has friendship at its pulse, it also scrutinises the complex relationship between mothers and their daughters during the tricky teen years.

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The Single Moms Club
The Single Moms Club

Single mums tend to be marginalised in our society, so it’s awesome to see it explored in such an honest and compassionate way as is the case with the The Single Moms Club. Directed by Tyler Perry and starring Nia Long, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Amy Smart, this spirited comedy drama centres on five single mums from very different social/cultural backgrounds who realise they have more in common and form a support group to help overcome life’s challenges.

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We very rarely get the perspective of motherhood from that of empty nesters, and that’s what makes Otherhood such a cinematic treat. When three mums come together to lament that they feel neglected by their adult sons who have flown the coop and lead busy lives, they hatch a plan to travel to New York City to surprise them. Otherhood has some real tender moments, and is a poignant, heartfelt tale that reminds us that the mother and child bond is imperishable.

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TMC Family Recipe of the Week: French Toast


2 large free-range eggs
vanilla extract
ground cinnamon
optional: sea salt
optional: freshly ground black pepper
2 slices of bread
unsalted butter or olive oil
Greek-style yoghurt, to serve
1 handful of fresh berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries), to serve
maple syrup, to serve


1. Crack the eggs into a bowl, then add a splash of milk.

2. Add a few drips of vanilla extract and a pinch of cinnamon (or a bit of salt and pepper if you’re going savoury) and whisk the eggs with a fork.

3. Soak slices of bread in the egg mixture for a couple of minutes, turning halfway.

4. Melt a knob of butter in a hot frying pan, then add the bread. Cook for a few minutes, without moving the bread, until golden.

5. Use a spatula to carefully flip the bread over and cook until golden on both sides.

6. Transfer to a plate and top with yoghurt, fresh berries and a drizzle of maple syrup.

What to have with French toast?

The options are endless, but here are some of brilliant combos:

-Crispy smoked bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup
-Sliced banana and chocolate
-Stewed apple or pear with cinnamon
-Pan-fried mushrooms and avocado

Recipe and image from https://www.jamieoliver.com/

TMC Family Recipe of the Week: Fish Pie


1.5 kg floury potatoes
4 large free-range eggs , optional
50 g unsalted butter
50 g plain flour
2 fresh bay leaves
350 ml quality fish stock
350 ml semi-skimmed milk , plus an extra splash
50 g Cheddar cheese
½ a lemon
1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley , optional
300 g skinless, boneless white fish , such as coley, whiting, haddock, cod
200 g skinless boneless salmon
200 g skinless, boneless undyed smoked haddock
200 g baby spinach
extra virgin olive oil
1 whole nutmeg , for grating


1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6.

2. Peel the potatoes and cut into 2cm chunks, then boil for around 15 minutes, or until tender. Add the eggs for the last 8 minutes (if using).

3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan over a low heat and stir in the flour. Add the bay, then bit by bit, add the stock and the milk, stirring after every addition until you have a smooth, silky sauce. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until thickened.

4. Stir in the mustard, grate in half the cheese, then squeeze in the lemon juice. Pick, finely chop and stir in the parsley (if using), then keep stirring until the cheese is melted. Season with a little black pepper, then remove from the heat.

5. Get yourself a 25cm x 30cm baking dish. Check that there aren’t any stray bones lurking in the fish fillets, then slice into 2.5cm chunks and spread them evenly over the base of the dish.

6. Wilt and add the spinach, then peel, quarter and add the eggs (if using). Remove the bay leaves, then pour over the white sauce and allow to cool slightly.

7. Drain the potatoes well and mash with a little extra virgin olive oil, a splash of milk and a few scrapings of nutmeg. Spoon the potatoes over the pie and scuff up the surface with a fork.

8. Grate the remaining Cheddar over the top and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through, the sauce is bubbling up at the sides and the top is golden.

Delicious served with lots of green veg.

For another recipe head to https://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/healthy-fish-pie.html

How to Cope with Excessive Nausea in Pregnancy

When I was pregnant with my first child, my morning (noon and night) sickness routine was as regular as clockwork. I’d throw up as soon as I woke up, and once again just after 5pm in the evening. At my workplace, I recall those ever-so-stressful days of swiftly packing my belongings before the clock struck 5, saying a quick goodbye to my colleagues, before dashing to the toilets to bring up the contents of my lunch up. It was awful, and it went on for months. At the time I remember thinking if this is what pregnancy is like I don’t intend to ever do this again.

Looking back, my situation was mild in comparison to what some women have to endure while pregnant. In truth, most of us mums have had our fair share of pregnancy sickness horror stories. But spare a thought for those women who experience a sickness so severe and unrelenting that it can last throughout the entirety of their pregnancy.

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a medical term given to women who experience excessive nausea during pregnancy. It manifests as severe nausea and frequent vomiting (four times a day or more) and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as dehydration, constant dizziness, and even weight loss. Unlike traditional morning sickness, Hyperemesis gravidarum is less common and is said to affect 1 to 3 in every 100 women according to nhs.gov. The sickness can become so debilitating that some women may require hospitalisation. The condition may not improve or clear up until the baby is born but may subside at around the 20-month mark.

What causes hyperemesis gravidarum

Experts still have no definitive explanation as to why hyperemesis gravidarum occurs. The most common theory is it’s caused by rapidly rising levels of hormones specifically oestrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin, which is the hormone created by the placenta. There is some evidence to suggest that HG may also be a condition that runs in families, so if you have a mother or sister that experienced it, you may be more likely to get it as well. Similarly, if you had it during a previous pregnancy, you may get it again during your next unfortunately.

Morning sickness vs hyperemesis gravidarum

With up to 80% of women suffering from nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, it can feel like hell when you’re in the midst of it, and some women may in fact wonder if they are themselves experiencing this particularly intense and extreme form of pregnancy related nausea. Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife, and co-founder of My Expert Midwife is keen to emphasise that there is a clear distinction between the two. She says, “While most women find their morning sickness eases after the first trimester unfortunately, 1-2% of women will develop hyperemesis gravidarum, which can cause severe dehydration and hospitalisation. Hyperemesis gravidarum is diagnosed when a patient’s wellbeing and ability to have a normal lifestyle are compromised due to the sickness and nausea they are experiencing.” So, what are some of the things women need to look out for if experiencing sickness during pregnancy? “Women should seek help as soon as possible if they experience any of the following symptoms: you are unable to keep down any food or fluids for 24-48 hours, you are not passing any or very little urine and it is dark in colour, or you feel weak or faint and not able to stand up for any length of time.”

The mental toll

The physical symptoms associated with hyperemesis gravidarum are pretty much well-documented within the medical profession, but what isn’t discussed as much is the mental toll that this condition has on women. The hormonal and bodily changes experienced during pregnancy are overwhelming enough, no matter how many times you’ve given birth. So when you add this distressing condition to the equation, it can seem like too much to bear. Dr Carla Runchman is a clinical psychologist and two-time sufferer of HG in pregnancy who states that it’s equally important to discuss the psychological elements of the condition, so women won’t feel so isolated when experiencing it. She says, “A key aspect, often overlooked at medical appointments, is the crushing loneliness of HG. You are typically shut off from your normal routine, work and socialising. Well-meaning friends and family might not ‘get it’ and make well-meaning but ultimately undermining comments about ‘morning sickness’ or, worse, ginger biscuits. Women can be on their own, feeling dreadful, for long periods, and this can lead to rumination – when thoughts end up in a negative spiral. This happens because you are feeling low, due to the nausea and the limiting impact on your life, and the fact that you are left alone with your thoughts.” With such an utterly depressing assessment of the situation, how does Dr Carla suggest we implement mechanisms to cope? “From a psychological point of view, if you are feeling out of control (which is understandable in HG), try finding something that helps occupy your mind, and gives you a sense of control, however small. Can you try a repetitive but easy activity like crochet (I have several crocheted blankets that unfortunately now make me nauseous at the sight of them!). Your partner can help; what would make you more comfortable? Simple things like having fresh bedding every day, or supplies of whatever food/drink you can get down, or a book/magazine to read can make a huge difference to how you are feeling.”

Treatments available

Thankfully there are also treatments available now that can help to lessen the physical symptoms of hyperemesis gravidarum and they include anti-sickness drugs, vitamins B6 and B12 and/or steroids. If the symptoms are unable to be controlled at home and the excessive vomiting continues, a more invasive approach can be taken with treatment being administered intravenously directly into a vein through a drip. “If you are admitted to hospital for treatment, a doctor will assess you, and a plan of care will be made for your needs”, explains Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife. “Although treatments can temporarily relieve symptoms, it is common for them to return. If you are diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum you can expect to be offered an anti-emetic (anti-sickness) medication via an injection until you can tolerate this in tablet form. You may also be offered intravenous fluids (IV fluids) to rehydrate you whilst the right medication is found to help ease your sickness.” Although it’s easy for someone not going through it to say this – it’s crucial to remember that there is an expiration date on this condition, and there will become a time that you no longer have to endure it. In the meantime, we hope you find the strength and will to cope if you’re currently in the thick of it.

Written by: Keysha Davis