What’s a doula?
The term doula, originally from the Greek word meaning “woman’s servant,” is used today to describe a professional who provides women with emotional and physical support during pregnancy, labor, birth and the postpartum period. Doulas are known by many names, including: Childbirth Assistant, Labor Support Professional, Birth Assistant, Birth Companion and more.
What does a doula do?
A birth doula provides a listening ear for the emotional process of pregnancy, physical comfort suggestions during pregnancy and labor and informational support for both the laboring mom and her partner. The doula is knowledgeable about the entire birth process, possesses skills to help a laboring person cope with the physical experience and emotions of birth and understands the importance of this life event. The doula will provide support for mom and baby by helping mom formulate questions, gather information, and discuss the options available with the medical staff. The doula will not perform clinical tasks, and will never make decisions on behalf of a woman. A Doula will always respect that it is up to the laboring individual to make the informed choice that is best for her body and her baby. Most importantly, the doula uses her skills to complement those of the woman’s partner and medical providers, helping to ensure a satisfying birth memory.
At what point in my pregnancy should I contact a doula?
The earlier the better! Although the benefits of having a doula for your birth will be the same whether you contact her at 12 weeks or at 35 weeks, the difference in finding your doula early in pregnancy is that you’ll have someone you know that you can call on with those “Is this normal?” or “What does this mean?” calls and texts throughout your pregnancy. As well, the longer you have known your doula, the more of a relationship you will build. However, you will benefit from doula support, whether you have known your doula for months, or merely days.
I have a great doctor or midwife, and will have a nurse. Do I really need a doula, too?
Doulas, doctors, midwives, and nurses all take on separate and unique roles in supporting birth. Each one is important part of the birth team, and all work together to help the laboring woman have a healthy and positive experience. The nurse is responsible for charting, monitoring, and reporting to the doctor or midwife, sometimes for several patients at once. Physicians and midwives are highly trained as medical experts, and are responsible for monitoring the safety of the mother and baby during labor and delivery. A doula remains a constant presence throughout labor, focusing entirely on providing comfort for the laboring mom and her partner. A doula’s job is not to replace any part of the medical team, but to complement their roles by providing constant support and information to the mom and her partner.
I am already taking childbirth classes. Why would I need a doula?
Doulas are intended to enhance, not replace , the services of your childbirth instructor. Your doula will be with you to remind you at appropriate times during labor of the things you have already learned in childbirth class.
I’ve already taken another class. Would you still be my doula?
Of course ! I have a strong understanding of many different childbirth class philosophies, and can work comfortably with any laboring woman.
Do I need a doula if I already have someone (my mom, my partner, my friend) to be with me during my labor and birth?
It is wonderful for a laboring woman to have the presence of others who love her. A doula will enhance the support that others will provide, without being intrusive. Often, your doula has a level of knowledge and experience that your partner may not. Additionally, mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and dear friends each have their own emotional response to seeing someone experience labor, and to welcoming this new child into their lives. A doula will respect that this is a special moment for each person, and will gently provide encouragement, information and reassurance that will help a woman’s loved ones offer their support in a way that also respects the laboring woman’s needs.
Do I need a doula if I might have an epidural? What if I have to have a Cesarean birth?
A doula’s goal is to help you have a satisfying birth experience, however you define it. If using pain medication is an option you are considering during labor, your doula will help you make an informed choice about what’s best for you and your baby in the moment. Your doula will support you and your partner in the early stages of labor before an epidural can be considered, continue to provide support in whatever way is needed throughout labor, and help you avoid further intervention. If your caregiver suggests a cesarean, your doula will help you be as informed as possible about the surgery and the post-partum recovery. Your doula will guide you in asking questions that will help you gather necessary information about the reasons your caregiver recommends a cesarean, the risks and benefits relative to your particular situation, and any alternatives you may have. In this case, you will likely make an informed decision and will therefore be more satisfied with a surgical outcome. She will also help to reinforce that even though a cesarean may not have been your goal, you are still giving birth. She will celebrate with you, and facilitate closeness between the new family.
How much does it cost to have a doula?
This varies somewhat, based upon the services you desire and the going rate in your location. An average birth doula services package begins at $950 to $1250.
Are the costs of your services covered by insurance?
As more woman are choosing doulas as part of the birth team, and more research is being done proving the benefits of doula care, more insurance companies are covering the cost of doula service. Many insurance providers also cover the cost of childbirth classes, whether those classes are private or in-hospital. All receipts and information you need for filing for insurance reimbursement will gladly be provided.