How does a doula help me?
A doula provides:
- Explanations of medical procedures
- Emotional support
- Advice during pregnancy
- Exercise and physical suggestions to make pregnancy more comfortable
- Help with preparation of a birth plan
- Massage and other non-pharmacological pain relief measures
- Positioning suggestions during labor and birth
- Helps support the partner so that they can love and encourage the laboring woman
- Assistance in avoiding unnecessary interventions
- Help with breastfeeding preparation and the first session
- A written record of the birth
Does a doula replace nursing staff?
No. Doulas do not replace nurses or other medical staff. Doulas do not perform clinical or medical tasks such as taking blood pressure or temperature, monitoring fetal heart rate, doing vaginal examinations or providing postpartum clinical care.
Do you offer postpartum support?
Yes. I offer postpartum support to assist parents with any questions they may have after baby arrives.
Will my partner or spouse feel “left out” if there is a doula at the birth?
No. A doula can help engage the partner in the birth and support them. She is supportive to both the mother and her partner, and plays a crucial role in helping a partner become involved in the birth to the extent he/she feels comfortable. Often, the partner feels stress if they are the sole support person. Having a professional birth assistant who has attended numerous births helps to ease that stress and take some pressure off of the partner.
What effects does the presence of doulas' have on mothers and babies?
Studies have shown that the presence of a doula can improve birth in the following ways:
- Reduction in unplanned cesarean deliveries
- Shorter Labor
- Decrease in the requests for epidurals or other pain medications
- Decrease in the need for synthetic oxytocin (pitocin) to speed up labor
- Fewer complications for mother and baby
- Improved immediate breastfeeding success
- Babies have shorter hospital stays and a decrease in admissions to special care units
- A lower rate of postpartum depression in mothers
Will my insurance cover your cost?
Some insurance companies do cover doula services but you will need to contact your insurance company to see if you will be reimbursed. In addition, many clients use their flexible medical spending accounts to pay for doula services. If hired I will work out a payment plan to fit your budget. Note: **Please check with your health insurance company to find out if childbirth education classes are covered by your plan.**
still not sure what exactly I’ll be doing!
A doula’s role and duties change with each birth. You define my role as your doula. This means that you will determine, based on your own unique and individual needs, what role I will play at the birth of your child. In basic terms, if you’re saying to yourself “I want someone to do X, and I may need help with Y, but definitely not Z,” then you’re in need of a doula!
What's the difference between a doula and a midwife?
A midwife’s role at births is to monitor both mother and baby for potential health problems, to catch the baby, and provide immediate postpartum care. A midwife can perform duties such as vaginal exams, suturing, blood pressure, heart rate, and overall evaluations of the health of the mother and baby, among other things. A midwife has had special training to attend births as a medical professional, as well as provide a level of emotional support. A doula does not catch the baby or perform any medical tasks. A doula cannot evaluate the mother or baby for health problems. Doulas are trained to provide a high level of emotional support. A midwife’s, doctor’s, or nurse’s priority is the physical health of the mother and baby, while a doula’s priority is the emotional health of the mother, her partner, and their baby. Doulas do not replace professional medical care.
Isn’t my husband/partner supposed to do all that? Will his/her role be threatened if I use a doula?
I consider it a priority to ensure that your husband or partner is free to fully participate in the birth experience with you. Partners need support, too! Freeing husbands and partners to truly be with the mother and be physically and emotionally present for the birth of their child is one of my most important roles as a doula.
I’m a husband/partner - what does a doula do for me?
My role as doula is to support the entire family. This means you can go to the bathroom, grab a bite to eat, or if labor is particularly long, even take a nap without worrying about leaving the mother laboring alone. It means you can fully participate in the birth of your child at whatever level you are most comfortable. If you’d prefer to take pictures and leave things like massage up to me, you can. If you’d prefer to be the one massaging or holding her hand, I can take the pictures, fetch water, and deal with any other tasks that may come up. As your doula, I tend to the details, leaving you free to focus on what’s really important to you.
I really want a doula at my birth, but my partner is still reluctant.
This is probably the most common reason that women are hesitant to hire a doula. It is natural for partners to be wary of inviting an outsider to the birth of their child. Partners often feel their role is to protect the mother and baby, and minimizing outsiders is one way to do that. Oftentimes, reluctant partners will feel more comfortable with the idea once they have met the doula and had an opportunity to have their concerns and needs addressed. I offer free, no-obligation consultations, and we can meet wherever you and your partner feel most comfortable - at home, at the coffee shop, or over dinner at a restaurant. I encourage you to ask your most challenging questions at this consultation. It is also notable that partners who were reluctant at first are often the biggest supporters of doulas after benefiting from her presence at the birth of their child.
Wait, isn’t this what nurses do?
Many nurses are willing and happy to do these things, but unfortunately their other duties often interfere. A nurse’s first priority is to monitor your physical health, and of course they are usually helping many women at once. Nurses rarely have the time to help with things related to comfort and support, and they are often pleased to learn that you have hired a doula.
I plan to use medication; can I still benefit from having a doula?
My role as a doula is to support you and your partner, whether your labor and birth includes medication or other pain coping practices. Your need for support and encouragement continues even with an epidural.
What if I decide during labor that I want medication - will you support that?
As your doula, I will support whatever option is right for you. I believe in the wise and compassionate use of medication for laboring women. As each mother has unique needs, this issue will be discussed in detail at our prenatal visits, so that I will have a complete understanding of your wishes and needs during labor.
My baby will be born by cesarean; what are some ways I can benefit from having a doula?
As your doula, I can help you and your partner navigate the often complex process surrounding a cesarean birth. I will hold the space for your family, helping to remind everyone involved that birth is a deeply emotional and spiritual process, not a medical event, even when medical care is involved. You may need to get special permission for me stay with you during the birth, but even if that is not possible, I can join you after the birth, while your partner goes to the nursery with the baby, so that you are not left unsupported in the surgery room. Breastfeeding and caring for your baby are sometimes more challenging after a cesarean birth, and as your doula, I will provide support and encouragement while you overcome those challenges.
I am planning to have a home birth - do I still need a doula?
This depends on your preferences and on your midwife. Some midwives work with apprentices who will fill the role of a doula. Most midwives offer a very high level of emotional support, regardless of whether they work alone or with apprentices. There are benefits to hiring a doula separately, however. You can interview several doulas to ensure the best relationship. Also, having a doula at your home birth ensures that the level of emotional support will be maintained even in the event of an emergency, during which the midwife and apprentice could be too busy to offer much emotional support. As your doula, I will also provide an increased level of postpartum support.
It seems so expensive!
Doula fees may seem high because it is an expense that was not anticipated. Many couples do not consider doula services until they are already pregnant and the birth is looming. When put in the perspective of other costs of having a baby, however, the investment is clearly quite practical. Most parents will spend hundreds of dollars on baby furniture, car seats, clothing, bottles, cameras, diapers - sometimes even a bigger car or house! Every family needs support and encouragement before, during, and after labor and birth. Doula fees are actually quite reasonable when you break it down. You receive 3 in-home, completely personalized visits (2 prenatal, 1 postpartum) to discuss your needs and wishes for your birth and to help with breastfeeding or other postpartum needs. Your doula is also on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from the time you hire her, and she will stay with you for the duration of your labor, throughout all hours of the day and night, no matter how long your labor lasts. Not even your doctor will do that! The benefits of having a doula at your birth are truly immeasurable.
My religious beliefs are very important to me; are you the same religion as I am?
I believe that birth is a deeply spiritual experience, and I encourage all of my clients to explore how they can best incorporate their religious and spiritual beliefs in their birth. I have the greatest respect for my clients’ religious beliefs and experiences. I have found that I am always able to find common beliefs with my clients, regardless of the similarity or disparity of our religion or spirituality. I would be happy to discuss this in more detail with you.
What duties can’t doulas perform?
Birth Doulas specialize in non-medical skills, and do not perform clinical tasks, or diagnose medical conditions. A birth doula is not hired as a doctor or a midwife and therefore cannot offer medical advice, nor deliver a baby. Our birth doulas believe that the mother benefits from a smooth and professional relationship between the doula and the care providers. We make every attempt to fulfill the wishes of a client’s birth plan, however we recognize and respect the authority of the care provider, and will not enter into an adversarial situation with medical staff. (A doula can ask medical staff for clarification or specific reasons on the client’s behalf if requested to do so.) Doulas do not make decisions for their clients. Their goal is to provide the support and information needed to help the birthing mother have a safe and satisfying birth as the mother defines it. For new parents common challenges are numerous including recovering from their birth experience; adjusting to total responsibility for a tiny dependent newborn; sleeplessness and mastery of infant feeding and care. Postpartum doulas provide families with ongoing support in their home and aid parents in making the best possible choices for their newborn infants.
Still have questions? I would be happy to answer them.