global doula blog

Book Review

Why Doulas Matter

by Maddie McMahon



I absolutely loved reading this book and recommend anyone to read it if you are considering having a Birth or Postnatal Doula or if you are considering becoming a Doula yourself. If you are a midwife or a doctor, then please take the time to read this wonderful book too.

As a doula myself I like to blend in with birth professionals so that the woman and her partner or family feel like they are supported by a unified team.

The timing I read this book was perfect as it was just before I started my doula training. Maddie's writing style is so easy to read and enjoyable and this little book (small enough to fit in a large pocket or small bag) is packed with brilliant information. I am a (foreign-trained) midwife who has now become a doula and this little gem of a book helped facilitate the change in roles that I needed to get my head around. I do like to use a highlighter when I'm impacted by what's said, or want to reflect on later. When I read this book I pretty much underlined something on every page. There were so much that Maddie had written that I could identify with or that I wanted to incorporate into my doula journey ahead.

As a doula who used to be a midwife I think I somewhat "get" the doula-midwife thing. When I worked as a midwife I was the doula too if that makes sense? Some doulas and midwives might disagree with this! Doulas and midwives do of course have different roles but they do overlap at times and ultimately the aim should be that the woman is best served and her space is best preserved with dignity, respect and compassion.

I was fortunate to work in clinics in the Philippines where we could provided 1-2-1 care, continuous care and also continuity of care so the women knew us and we knew the women coming in, most of the time. I believe most midwives sign up to be this kind of care provider, but currently in the busy NHS systems this is often not a reality.

I believe that every woman deserves a doula, if she wants one. It's always been my dream that doulas would be birthed from and within every culture so that women feel more supported and have better birth outcomes. "Why Doulas Matter" unpicks the hows and whys and bring great insight into what and who a Doula does and is.

Here's a quote from Maddie in the book:

"The title of the book is a statement I have been grappling with for over a decade. On one level, doulas do not matter. It is all about the parents. Their journey, their feelings, their experience of childbirth and early parenting. To serve, to me, means to provide succour and to minister to the every need of my clients as they negotiate an intense period in their lives. My needs are secondary......"

Maddie set up Developing Doulas to train other doulas and I trained as a doula with her colleague, Zara de Candole