Rebecca, a doula, teaching Daniela how to use a sling baby carrier
More and more mothers are turning to doulas in our area to help them through labour.
The so-called 'birth coaches' offer paid support, from post natal with breastfeeding through to massages, and an 'on call' service.
The doulas, usually mothers themselves, have no medical training but the women who use them say NHS midwives can't offer them the same one-to-one care.
Currently there are only a few doulas in our area, but demand is said to be growing.
A local doula
Rebecca Wright, 37, has been a doula for two years.
She's worked with women in County Durham, the Redcar and Cleveland area and in North Yorkshire.
She explains what her job is about: "I give 24/7 email and telephone support, and two weeks before the baby's due I go on call".
Daniela getting Reiki, part of the doula service Rebecca provides
Rebecca says she uses a "doula kit" which includes a baby carrier, or sling, a homeopathic 'box' with natural remedies and various advice books on pregnancy and birth.
She also specialises in Reiki, an alternative healing practice using the hands, that is offered to pregnant women before, during, and after birth.
"A doula is generally there to offer personal support" explains Rebecca.
Doula is the ancient Greek word for slave
The term doula was first used in the 70's
In the UK doulas are not required to be certified
"Sometimes partners of the women might feel that it's a bit odd to have a stranger there at the birth, but the fathers I've worked with have found that it frees them up to be there for the mother more, and support them".
One of Rebecca's clients is 32-year-old mother of two Daniela Caradonna from Liverton Mines.
She's pregnant with her third child and says she decided to pay for a birth coach after a difficult experience of labour with her second child:
"The birth of my first child was fine, for the second it was a lot more painful, I was riddled with fear".
After deciding to use Rebecca as a doula, Daniela says she's hoping to make her third birthing experience the best:
"I've been speaking to Rebecca about the fear I have about giving birth.
"She has given me a lot of advice, including information about pain relief such as birthing pools and other things that I can do naturally to help my body do its job, rather than resorting to using drugs this time around".