Wagga doulas offer support to women and their partners during labour

Ruth Kerr, Jenny Storrier and Shelley Wylie have a wide range of interests and life experience, but they share one big bond.

Jenny Storrier, Shelley Wylie and Ruth Kerr, with Shelley's son Alastair, 10 months. Picture: Les Smith

Jenny Storrier, Shelley Wylie and Ruth Kerr, with Shelley's son Alastair, 10 months. Picture: Les Smith

All three are mothers and doulas, and are passionate about helping women to have positive birth experiences.

Doulas are, broadly speaking, professional support people who provide extra support to women and their partners before and during labour.

Ms Kerr is a mother of six. She has always loved pregnancy and birth, and after having her own children, found her interest in the birth process became reawakened when she became a grandmother.

Her decision to become a doula grew from her experiences in providing support during her grandchildren’s births.

“I started to get more interested in the birthing process again and it was then that I began hearing about doulas,” Ms Kerr said.

“I thought about it, and decided I could share some of my birth experiences.”

Ms Storrier’s interest came from a different angle.

She had already been running classes in pre and post-natal yoga, so the idea of providing more support to labouring mums seemed natural.

Shelley Wylie is a teacher who initially became in the benefits of doula support after completing antenatal classes.

Her interest continued to grow and she signed up for formal studies, spurred on by stories she heard from other woman who talked about aspects of their birth experience that bothered them.

Ms Storrier said it was not only labouring women who sought the help of doulas during births.

She said an increasing number of partners were looking for additional support.

“A lot of partners are coming up and asking for our support so they can, in turn, provide real support during labour,” Ms Storrier said.

Ms Wylie said women who had a doula with them during labour often felt they had been "heard” during their birth.

“We all work independently and we all have difference styles and approaches,” Ms Kerr said.

“But we all want to help women have a positive birth experience.”

Ms Kerr said she has often been called on to provide assistance for women who speak English as a second language, while Ms Wylie has found that Wagga’s mobile population means women can be away from their families, friends and the other people who may have provided support during labour.

“Using a doula is not for homebirths. It is for everyone,” Ms Wylie said.

“We are there equally for the partner and the labouring mother.”