Doula Natalie, left, conducts a pre-natal session with two of her clients in their Abu Dhabi home. Ravindranath K / The National
Doula Natalie, left, conducts a pre-natal session with two of her clients in their Abu Dhabi home. Ravindranath K / The National

Delivering on doulas



There was a time when doulas were associated with giving birth in a yurt to the sound of tinkling wind chimes. No longer. Having the support of a doula through pregnancy and birth is now an increasingly popular choice for women, particularly those living far away from family and friends. We look at how doulas can help and what that could mean for your birth.

What is a doula?

Though they are not medical professionals, doulas are mothers who have undergone training to emotionally assist pregnant women during and after pregnancy and birth, as well as give them tools to help cope with labour. A study in the US showed that the rate of caesarean sections could be cut by half if more women used doulas.

Building confidence so that parents are able to make informed choices about the birth is a key part of her service, says Natalie Wells, a doula based in Abu Dhabi.

"It's important to prepare couples for every eventuality and not to shy away from any fears," she says. "Labour and birth can be full of surprises and don't always go the way we hoped or planned."

Wells also teaches women skills to help deal with the pain of birth. "The practices I teach give them the confidence that they are not powerless," she says, "but have tools to use to help them get through each contraction, one at a time."

"It's just being there for them," says Lisa Barfoot-Smith, a doula and mother of four who lives in Abu Dhabi. "We've been through the birth they want beforehand and that's the birth we'll try to get. Obviously we're not medical professionals and we can't give medical advice but what we can say is don't rush into something, think about your options."

Who needs a doula?

Being a first-time mother and relatively new to the Middle East were two of the reasons Eve Mumford used a doula for the birth of her son Oscar, now seven weeks old.

"I didn't know anyone here who'd had babies," she says, "and being in a strange environment with a health service I didn't really understand was a bit nerve-racking.

"My mum works full-time and I wasn't able to bring her out for the birth so I felt it would be sensible to have another female there who had been through it before and who knew the system out here, who could be a supporter and advocate for us."

"I'd heard a few stories from other people where things didn't go quite right," says Caroline Porter, who lives in Abu Dhabi and had her daughter, Kaila, in December with Wells's help. " I thought that if I've got someone there who's been through the birth and knows what to expect then it would be a good idea and I could relax and my husband could relax during the birth."

How does a doula differ from a midwife?

Unlike midwives, doulas are not medically trained, and therefore cannot offer medical advice. "The midwife is there to do her job but she's normally got more than one person at a time to look after," says Barfoot-Smith. "If they're out of the room and you get a big contraction, it helps to have someone there apart from your husband."

"I was admitted to the Corniche [Hospital] with contractions at 11pm," says Porter. "They were getting faster and stronger but I wasn't far enough along to be admitted to the labour room and it was after visiting hours so my husband wasn't allowed to be with me. I was going through labour on my own, which wasn't what I wanted. I called Natalie and she came straight away and helped me do my hypnobirthing exercises."

Does having a doula mean forgoing pain relief during the birth?

"We do educate people about the pros and cons of different types of intervention," says Wells. "Epidurals can be amazing in certain situations - if the mother is really frightened or if the labour is very painful - but quite often they don't understand that there can be other knock-on effects.

"So, it's about giving parents all the information and letting them make their minds up - and then whatever they decide we will support.

"We're not there to push natural birth. It's about supporting the mother and her wishes."

How can a doula help after the birth?

Many doulas also provide post-natal support, which can be a lifeline for first-time mothers in a country where there is no such provision.

"There seems to be a real gap here," says Wells, "especially for first-time mums. They give birth, go home, go for their six-week check, but otherwise there is very little follow-up.

"Many first-time mothers might feel vulnerable with a newborn at home to look after and all the questions that arise and there not being anywhere else to go. So I offer that support as well - and if I can't help them, I'll point them in the right direction."

How do I find a doula?

Natalie Wells (in Abu Dhabi): 050 580 8134

Lisa Barfoot-Smith (in Abu Dhabi): 050 909 5416

Louise Stern (in Abu Dhabi): 050 263 7314

Non-oil trade

Non-oil trade between the UAE and Japan grew by 34 per cent over the past two years, according to data from the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre. 

In 10 years, it has reached a total of Dh524.4 billion. 

Cars topped the list of the top five commodities re-exported to Japan in 2022, with a value of Dh1.3 billion. 

Jewellery and ornaments amounted to Dh150 million while precious metal scraps amounted to Dh105 million. 

Raw aluminium was ranked first among the top five commodities exported to Japan. 

Top of the list of commodities imported from Japan in 2022 was cars, with a value of Dh20.08 billion.

Quick facts
  • Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL) offers free guided tours of art in the metro and at the stations
  • The tours are free of charge; all you need is a valid SL ticket, for which a single journey (valid for 75 minutes) costs 39 Swedish krone ($3.75)
  • Travel cards for unlimited journeys are priced at 165 Swedish krone for 24 hours
  • Avoid rush hour – between 9.30 am and 4.30 pm – to explore the artwork at leisure
Three ways to limit your social media use

Clinical psychologist, Dr Saliha Afridi at The Lighthouse Arabia suggests three easy things you can do every day to cut back on the time you spend online.

1. Put the social media app in a folder on the second or third screen of your phone so it has to remain a conscious decision to open, rather than something your fingers gravitate towards without consideration.

2. Schedule a time to use social media instead of consistently throughout the day. I recommend setting aside certain times of the day or week when you upload pictures or share information. 

3. Take a mental snapshot rather than a photo on your phone. Instead of sharing it with your social world, try to absorb the moment, connect with your feeling, experience the moment with all five of your senses. You will have a memory of that moment more vividly and for far longer than if you take a picture of it.

Libya's Gold

UN Panel of Experts found regime secretly sold a fifth of the country's gold reserves.

The panel’s 2017 report followed a trail to West Africa where large sums of cash and gold were hidden by Abdullah Al Senussi, Qaddafi’s former intelligence chief, in 2011.

Cases filled with cash that was said to amount to $560m in 100 dollar notes, that was kept by a group of Libyans in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

A second stash was said to have been held in Accra, Ghana, inside boxes at the local offices of an international human rights organisation based in France.

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

ENGLAND SQUAD

Goalkeepers Pickford (Everton), Pope (Burnley), Henderson (Manchester United)

Defenders Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Chilwell (Chelsea), Coady (Wolves), Dier (Tottenham), Gomez (Liverpool), James (Chelsea), Keane (Everton), Maguire (Manchester United), Maitland-Niles (Arsenal), Mings (Aston Villa), Saka (Arsenal), Trippier (Atletico Madrid), Walker (Manchester City)

Midfielders: Foden (Manchester City), Henderson (Liverpool), Grealish (Aston Villa), Mount (Chelsea), Rice (West Ham), Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Winks (Tottenham)

Forwards: Abraham (Chelsea), Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Kane (Tottenham), Rashford (Manchester United), Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Sterling (Manchester City)

Profile box

Founders: Michele Ferrario, Nino Ulsamer and Freddy Lim
Started: established in 2016 and launched in July 2017
Based: Singapore, with offices in the UAE, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand
Sector: FinTech, wealth management
Initial investment: $500,000 in seed round 1 in 2016; $2.2m in seed round 2 in 2017; $5m in series A round in 2018; $12m in series B round in 2019; $16m in series C round in 2020 and $25m in series D round in 2021
Current staff: more than 160 employees
Stage: series D 
Investors: EightRoads Ventures, Square Peg Capital, Sequoia Capital India

The biogs

Name: Zinah Madi

Occupation: Co-founder of Dots and links

Nationality: Syrian

Family: Married, Mother of Tala, 18, Sharif, 14, Kareem, 2

Favourite Quote: “There is only one way to succeed in anything, and that is to give it everything.”

 

Name: Razan Nabulsi

Occupation: Co-founder of Dots and Links

Nationality: Jordanian

Family: Married, Mother of Yahya, 3.5

Favourite Quote: A Chinese proverb that says: “Be not afraid of moving slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”

Russia's Muslim Heartlands

Dominic Rubin, Oxford

MATCH INFO

Barcelona 4 (Suarez 27', Vidal 32', Dembele 35', Messi 78')

Sevilla 0

Red cards: Ronald Araujo, Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi

Director: Kangana Ranaut, Krish Jagarlamudi

Producer: Zee Studios, Kamal Jain

Cast: Kangana Ranaut, Ankita Lokhande, Danny Denzongpa, Atul Kulkarni

Rating: 2.5/5

Notable salonnières of the Middle East through history

Al Khasan (Okaz, Saudi Arabia)

Tamadir bint Amr Al Harith, known simply as Al Khasan, was a poet from Najd famed for elegies, earning great renown for the eulogy of her brothers Mu’awiyah and Sakhr, both killed in tribal wars. Although not a salonnière, this prestigious 7th century poet fostered a culture of literary criticism and could be found standing in the souq of Okaz and reciting her poetry, publicly pronouncing her views and inviting others to join in the debate on scholarship. She later converted to Islam.

Maryana Marrash (Aleppo)

A poet and writer, Marrash helped revive the tradition of the salon and was an active part of the Nadha movement, or Arab Renaissance. Born to an established family in Aleppo in Ottoman Syria in 1848, Marrash was educated at missionary schools in Aleppo and Beirut at a time when many women did not receive an education. After touring Europe, she began to host salons where writers played chess and cards, competed in the art of poetry, and discussed literature and politics. An accomplished singer and canon player, music and dancing were a part of these evenings.

Princess Nazil Fadil (Cairo)

Princess Nazil Fadil gathered religious, literary and political elite together at her Cairo palace, although she stopped short of inviting women. The princess, a niece of Khedive Ismail, believed that Egypt’s situation could only be solved through education and she donated her own property to help fund the first modern Egyptian University in Cairo.

Mayy Ziyadah (Cairo)

Ziyadah was the first to entertain both men and women at her Cairo salon, founded in 1913. The writer, poet, public speaker and critic, her writing explored language, religious identity, language, nationalism and hierarchy. Born in Nazareth, Palestine, to a Lebanese father and Palestinian mother, her salon was open to different social classes and earned comparisons with souq of where Al Khansa herself once recited.

CRICKET WORLD CUP LEAGUE 2

Mannofield, Aberdeen

All matches start at 2pm UAE time and will be broadcast on icc.tv

UAE fixtures

Wednesday, Aug 10 – Scotland v UAE
Thursday, Aug 11 - UAE v United States
Saturday, Aug 14 – Scotland v UAE
Monday, Aug 15 – UAE v United States

UAE squad

Ahmed Raza (captain), Chirag Suri, Muhammad Waseem, Vriitya Aravind, CP Rizwan, Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, Zawar Farid, Kashif Daud, Karthik Meiyappan, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Sabir Ali, Alishan Sharafu

Table (top three teams advance directly to the 2023 World Cup Qualifier)

1. Oman 36 21 13 1 1 44
2. Scotland 24 16 6 0 2 34
3. UAE 22 12 8 1 1 26
--
4. Namibia 18 9 9 0 0 18
5. United States 24 11 12 1 0 23
6. Nepal 20 8 11 1 0 17
7. Papua New Guinea 20 1 19 0 0 2

Ain Issa camp:
  • Established in 2016
  • Houses 13,309 people, 2,092 families, 62 per cent children
  • Of the adult population, 49 per cent men, 51 per cent women (not including foreigners annexe)
  • Most from Deir Ezzor and Raqqa
  • 950 foreigners linked to ISIS and their families
  • NGO Blumont runs camp management for the UN
  • One of the nine official (UN recognised) camps in the region
Normcore explained

Something of a fashion anomaly, normcore is essentially a celebration of the unremarkable. The term was first popularised by an article in New York magazine in 2014 and has been dubbed “ugly”, “bland’ and "anti-style" by fashion writers. It’s hallmarks are comfort, a lack of pretentiousness and neutrality – it is a trend for those who would rather not stand out from the crowd. For the most part, the style is unisex, favouring loose silhouettes, thrift-shop threads, baseball caps and boyish trainers. It is important to note that normcore is not synonymous with cheapness or low quality; there are high-fashion brands, including Parisian label Vetements, that specialise in this style. Embraced by fashion-forward street-style stars around the globe, it’s uptake in the UAE has been relatively slow.

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Results

5pm Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 1,400m

Winner No Riesgo Al Maury, Szczepan Mazur (jockey), Ibrahim Al Hadhrami (trainer)

5.30pm Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 1,600m

Winner Marwa W’Rsan, Sam Hitchcott, Jaci Wickham.

6pm Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 1,600m

Winner Dahess D’Arabie, Al Moatasem Al Balushi, Helal Al Alawi.

6.30pm Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 2,200m

Winner Safin Al Reef, Connor Beasley, Abdallah Al Hammadi.

7pm Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 2,200m

Winner Thulbaseera Al Jasra, Shakir Al Balushi, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami.

7.30pm Maiden (TB) Dh 80,000 2,200m

Winner Autumn Pride, Szczepan Mazur, Helal Al Alawi.

Company Profile

Company name: OneOrder

Started: October 2021

Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Industry: technology, logistics

Investors: A15 and self-funded


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