New doula service to support West Cork women through pregnancy and birth

Posted on: 9th March, 2015

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

Pictured above: Heather Pabiou and Zoë Kingston are both professional doulas.

A new service, which is all about ‘Mothering the Mother’, will provide professional birth assistance and postpartum support from trained doulas for West Cork women.

Originating from a Greek word, meaning woman who serves — in today’s society the aim of the doula is to provide gentle and caring physical and emotional support, information and companionship to birthing mothers and their families during the pregnancy, labour, birthing and post-partum processes.

Set up by West Cork mothers and professional doulas Zoë Kingston and Heather Pabiou, South West Doula Services, which is affiliated with the Doula Association of Ireland, will provide an independent source of support to pregnant women and new mothers in Cork, whether they are planning a hospital birth or home birth.

A doula is not a midwife, does not perform clinical or medical tasks and does not diagnose medical conditions or give medical advice. Mother of three, Zoë Kingston of South West Doula Services explains: “ We don’t give advice or express an opinion. Part of our role is to help the woman and her partner obtain the information they need from the healthcare professionals in order to make informed choices.”

“The other part is to provide continuous support and reassurance to the couple according to their birth preferences, as far as possible since labour is unpredictable,” says Heather Pabiou of South West Doula Services. “We aim to nurture the mothers’ memory of a positive birth experience”

A woman’s satisfaction with her birth experience and even her self-esteem has been shown to improve with the assistance of a doula through childbirth. Some of the benefits of employing the assistance of a doula include the shortening of first-time labour by an average of two hours; a 50 per cent decrease in the chance of a caesarean section; a decrease in the need for pain medication; greater participation with more confidence by fathers; and increased success in breastfeeding.

Heather, also a mother of three children, feels that the act of giving birth, if positive, can instill lasting confidence in mothers to help in the journey of parenting.

The care provided by South West Doula Services will be tailored to meet the individual needs of the mother and her partner. “Doulas are highly supportive of the midwifery model of care,” explains Zoë “and together with the midwives, can form an effective team.”

Down through the ages, in nearly every culture in history, women have been surrounded and cared for by other women during childbirth. A trained doula is a compassionate, friendly presence on the side of the woman. “Our role is to empower the woman and her partner in what should be one of the most wonderful experiences of their lives,” says Heather. A doula is not there instead of a partner. “Exactly the opposite in fact,” Heather explains. “We encourage couples to work together as a team throughout the entire experience. We help the partner to help their loved one in labour.”

“Postpartum, we can provide breastfeeding support and give practical help (even making the dinner), reassurance and information on how to look after the needs of the newborn,” says Zoë.

The birth doula package offered by South West Doula Services includes one or more antenatal visits, ongoing phone/ email support, being on-call from 38 weeks to birth, continuous support throughout the labour and birth and one or more postnatal visits.

For more information or to make an appointment call Zoë 086 8571379 or Heather 086 8064886. Email


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