High Risk & IVF Pregnancy – How a Doula Can Help

There is a common misconception that Doulas are only useful in natural, unmedicated births. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there is an argument that doulas, because of their role in supporting expectant and birthing mums, can provide the most benefit to mums experiencing high-risk pregnancies.

The Role of a Doula

A Doula’s role is to provide emotional, educational, and physical support to the pregnant and labouring mother, and her partner. When a woman is experiencing a high risk pregnancy, the need for this support is intensified.

What is a High Risk Pregnancy?

There are a range of factors that can contribute to a pregnancy being considered high risk, and this risk may be referring to the mother, the baby, or both. Factors could include:

  • Multiple baby births
  • The age of the mother
  • Previous history of premature delivery
  • Pre-existing maternal health conditions
  • Pregnancy related conditions such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes
  • Rh incompatibility between mother and baby
  • Placental placement
  • Prenatal testing indicating health concerns with the baby

Regardless of the reasons for the increase in risk, the level of stress and anxiety it brings with it can make a pregnant woman emotionally vulnerable.

Doula’s and High Risk Pregnancies

The role of a Doula in a high risk pregnancy is not all that different from that of a normal pregnancy, it is just more intense.


In high risk pregnancies there are often increased levels of medical interventions, as well as additional tests and appointments. The options available to you are often more limited, whilst at the same time being more complicated. A doula can help navigate these appointments, provide information on what they mean and decode some of the medical terms for mum and her partner. Not only will this help parents feel more empowered, but it can help them understand what questions to ask their doctor or midwife.

Physical Care

If bed rest is required a doula can provide support around the house with light housework duties and healthy meals specially designed to provide the nutrition required for both mum and baby. A doula can also be on hand to assist with getting to and from those additional medical appointments if needed.

Emotional Care

All pregnancies bring with them a dose of anxiety along with the joy, but with high risk pregnancies the anxiety is even greater. Having someone professional, knowledgeable. and compassionate to share your worries with, who will help keep you calm and centred, can help reduce that stress and anxiety and keep things in perspective. High levels of stress are not helpful to either mum or baby, and often partners, friends and family are too emotionally involved to provide that composed sounding board.

Doulas & IVF

IVF brings its own set of challenges in the journey to becoming a parent. Discovering you might require help in falling pregnant can be difficult news to bear. Deciding how best to proceed can be a maze of conflicting information and opinions.

IVF is an expensive, time consuming and invasive process. A doula can help prospective parents navigate the options available to them, and provide emotional support in coming to terms with the challenges that lay ahead.

Once IVF commences the side effects of treatment can present additional problems including:

  • Hormone fluctuations which bring with them irritability, restlessness, and sometimes depression
  • Physical discomforts like tender breasts, nausea, bloating, hot flushes and fatigue

The emotional roller-coaster of hope and, sadly, disappointment, can take its toll on a woman’s well-being and her relationship with her partner.

A doula can provide support, both physically and emotionally, for prospective mothers and their partners to get through this time and, hopefully, achieve a healthy pregnancy.

Having already developed a relationship with a Doula during the conception period can be invaluable as IVF pregnancies have an increased incidence of multiple births, preterm delivery, and low birth weight babies. On a positive note, there is no evidence to suggest you are more at risk of miscarriage with an IVF pregnancy, once the pregnancy has been established.

If you are experiencing a high risk pregnancy, are planning on becoming pregnant and believe you may be at high risk, or are considering IVF, and would like support and guidance, I would love to chat. Please give me a call on 0422 258 771, or contact me:

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very merry Christmas and a joyous New Year. Alison