A doula – which is a greek word meaning ‘a woman at the service of another woman’ – provides emotional and physical support during pregnancy, birth (though this may depend on your choice of care provider and place of birth) and the postnatal period.
Most doulas are mothers (or even grandmothers) themselves and their goal is to accompany the future parent(s) on their journey of discovery, all the while respecting the choices and wishes of the parent(s).
This section looks at:
What can a doula offer me?
Having a doula by your side can bring a great deal of comfort and reassurance, whatever stage you are at in your journey. And most doulas are happy to support you in all kinds of situations, including:
- pre-conception, before you even start trying to conceive
- trying to conceive (including after a loss)
- having difficulty conceiving
- undergoing fertility treatment
- loss of a baby
- elective termination
- pregnancy, including birth preparation
- labour and birth – read more here
- postpartum period
Read more about the many ways a doula can support you during pregnancy, birth and early parenting in our article When and how can a doula help me on my journey?.
Curious what the research says about doula support? You can find out more in our article What does the research say about doula care?
Doulas in Belgium
While doulas are not yet so common in Belgium, the following doulas offer various kinds of support and services in English.
- In her Antenatal doula guidance sessions Sophie Girard-Sequeira offers a safe and compassionate time and space for you to talk about your experience of pregnancy, any worries or questions around labour and birth and the time beyond. Sophie helps you reflect on elements of a birth plan which would best suit your needs, such as choice of birth environment, pain management techniques, interventions, etc. This will also help you ask the right questions to your (medical) care providers. In the process, you’ll learn a lot to empower yourself into a positive pregnancy and birth experience. Each session is 1 hr 15 long, and Sophie offers packages of 1, 3 or 5 sessions.
- Mum and pregnancy, birth & postpartum doula Johanna Tilly (see Johanna’s village profile and Facebook page) is a doula who can offer support from before conception all the way through pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period. She speaks English, German, French and some Japanese and often supports births at Delta CHIREC hospital (other hospitals are also possible). She is also a pre- and postnatal yoga and hypnobirthing teacher. Post-birth she specialises in postnatal depression, breast-/ bottle feeding, better sleep for the whole family (newborn stage to 4-year olds), newborn-sibling relationships, couple relationships and the postpartum body (healing and getting back in shape). Johanna can also support women/couples considering abortion or having already decided on or gone through abortion. As well as supporting parents night and day in and around Brussels, Johanna also supports parents further afield online via Zoom/Skype.
- Belgian mums Julie Denil and Sophie Fraschina run So Cocoon. They offer a whole range of birth-related services, in English and French. They are based in the Jodoigne area but also serve mums in Brussels. Because they have lived as expats, they know the feeling you can experience being a far from home, especially during the particular time of pregnancy and early parenthood.
- Wezembeek-Oppem-based mum and doula Nathalie Berg supports women and couples before, during and after birth. Nathalie also offers life coaching, photography, and relocation advice to families moving to Belgium.
- Belgian mum and doula Audrey Laviolette is based in Braine l’Alleud, but also covers the Brussels area. She offers consultations at the CHIREC clinic of Sainte-Anne Saint-Rémi in Anderlecht every Friday morning, and is accredited with the CHIREC hospital in Braine-l’Alleud and Delta hospital in Brussels.
- Brussels-based mum Celine Angelici loves to help other woman to listen to what they really want for the birth of their babies. She she really enjoys meeting parents from different cultures. She has supported births in many Brussels hospitals, including Delta CHIREC, Anderlecht Cocon and Saint Elisabeth.
- Through Full Spectrum Journeys, American mum and IBCLC-certified lactation consultant Taz Twells offers doula support to women / couples who find themselves ending a pregnancy, or suffering pregnancy loss.
Taz works in English, French, Spanish and Italian in the greater Brussels area.
Flemish-speaking and French-speaking doulas have their own associations, through which you can find a doula, and many of these doulas will also speak English.
Get in touch with a doula to find out if she serves your area and which languages she speaks.
- Association francophone des doulas de Belgique – francophone association of Belgian doulas
http://doulas.be/wp/trouver-sa-doula/ (in French; possible to search for doulas in Brussels and Wallonia, by region)
- Vlaamse Federatie van Doula’s – Flemish doula federation
https://doulasite.be/vind%20een%20doula/index.html (in Dutch; possible to search for doulas in Flanders)
You may also be able to find a doula:
- by asking friends, colleagues, acquaintances – if you’re a member of the BCT, ask your local group
- by asking your independent midwife