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Top ~10~ Doula FAQs

Updated: Oct 24, 2019

By Kyra Brookover, BBCD

1.)What is a doula?

The Greek translation of the word Doula is "Woman's Servant."

A doula is a birth professional who is specially trained to support parents through their pregnancy, labor, birth, and early postpartum. Your doula is the only professional who is with you throughout your entire labor and early postpartum.

2.)Why do I need a doula? Isn't my partner/ mom/friend/ medical team enough?

A doula plays a very different role than other people on your birth team.

Your birth partner/s are very important! They have an intimate knowledge of you, your personality, and your emotional and spiritual needs. They know you best and can be indispensable in communicating your needs during labor.

A doula however, is just as important in a different way. Your doula is responsible for maintaining a peaceful and happy birth environment. She supports your birth partner/s as much as the you. Your partner/s have an intimate knowledge of you. Your doula has in intimate knowledge of birth!

Your doula is trained in educational support, the normal process of birth, birth intervention, and can help you feel comfortable and confident during your pregnancy, labor, and early parenthood.

She is also trained in comfort measures for your pregnancy, labor, and delivery. She understands positions, counter pressures and exercises to create space for your labor to progress normally. She is trained to provide natural pain relief and support oxytocin flow in the form of accupressure, specified massage, movement, relaxation techniques, affirmation, and environmental simulations.

Studies show that people who utilize a doula have

  • 25% shorter labors

  • 60% reduction in requests for epidural pain medications

  • 50% reduction in cesarean rate

  • 40% less Pitocin use

  • 40% reduction in forceps assisted delivery

  • 30% reduction in the use of analgesia during labor

  • Increased breastfeeding rates

  • Increased newborn APGAR scores

  • Decrease in newborn NICU stays

(Stats from the American Pregnancy Association)

"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it."- Dr.John H Kennell

3.)How can I afford a doula?

  • Check with your insurance- some health insurance companies (including some Medicaid coverage) will cover or reimburse the cost of your doula.

  • Use your FSA or HSA

  • Put a doula fund on your baby registry. Some doulas even offer Gift Certificates that can be purchased for you.

  • Find out if your doula offers payment plans- it can be far less daunting to pay your doula a little bit each month of your pregnancy than paying the whole amount up front

  • Barter and/ or see if you qualify for any of your doula's discount plans. Some doulas offer a discount for parents considering adoption, single or teenage parents, military families, single parents and many more.

  • Use a tax return

It's also important to consider how much money a doula may save you in the long run. If a doula reduces your need for pain medication, risk of cesarean, and reduces the time you need to be in the hospital, and helps you to breastfeed (thus decreasing your need to purchase formula), you may save far more than you spend by using a doula.

4.) How can I find a doula? What credentials should I ask for?

There are many many online directories for doulas. A quick Google search may yield the results you need. Another great resource is DoulaMatch.net. If you're looking for more personal local recommendations, check with local Mommy group or La Leche League. You can also ask for recommendations from local midwives, OBGYNs, massage therapists, Chiropractors, and lactation specialists.

When you contact the doula/s you think will be the best fit for you, you will generally schedule an interview. It's often a good idea to schedule interviews with a few doulas to find the one who will work best for you.

Sample interview questions-

  • Are you certified? Through what organization?

  • What does your experience look like?

  • What are your rates? What do they include? What payment arrangements do you offer?

  • How many times will we meet with you?

  • Do you offer a backup in case of emergency?

  • Do you have any references?

  • Are you available for my due date/ birth place?

5.) Do I need a doula for my home/hospital/birth center birth?

Most doulas offer support in many locations. A doula can be just as helpful at home as she is in a hospital setting.

Make sure you find a doula who is comfortable in your chosen birth setting. Some doulas prefer to only work in home settings. Others only work in hospitals. Many doulas choose not to attend unassisted births (IE-home birth without a medical care provider). Some doulas refuse to work with certain care providers. If you're finding that a lot of doulas in your area prefer not to work with your provider, it may be a good idea to find out why. Often times that means that care provider is not supportive of their clients and is too difficult to work with. It may be a good reason to consider changing providers.

6.) What is the difference between a doula, midwife, and a montrice?

A doula provides physical, mental, emotional, and environmental support. They do not perform medical tasks. ( fetal heart tones, vaginal exams, blood pressure etc)

A midwife is a medical care provider for pregnancy.

A montrice is a blend between the two. They are typically more expensive than a doula. They usually help you labor at home and monitor your medical care until you go to your chosen birth place.

7.) I am having a planned medicated birth or cesarean, should I still consider having a doula?

A doula can be just as helpful in more medicalized birth settings. Even if you're planning a medicated birth, a doula can help you cope with labor until it is time to get your medication. They can also help you to decide what medication you want and when. They can help you to change positions after receiving an epidural. They can help you to push effectively, which can be difficult when you cannot feel your efforts.

A doula at a cesarean birth can help facilitate your cesarean birth plan. You may choose to have a "gentle" or "family centered" cesarean. Your doula can help you know what to ask, and what to expect.

In both scenarios, your doula can help you prenatally postpartum with breastfeeding, easing your way into motherhood, and getting the support you need.

8.) Will a doula judge me if I decide I need pain medication during labor?

Your doula's role is to support YOU. Your doula will help you organize your wishes into a birth plan of your preferences prenatally. If you know you want pain medication, great! Your doula will support you! If you want to decide during labor, great! Your doula is there to help you achieve the birth you want. If you decide prenatally that you absolutely do not want pain medication and will be very disappointed if you choose it, your doula will try to facilitate that. She will try to encourage you by finding other pain relief techniques and affirmations, but if you ultimately decide that medication will be best for you and your baby, and the choice is yours (not pressured or coerced) your doula will wholeheartedly support you.

9.) Is there more than one type of doula?

The articles in this blog are based on BIRTH doulas. There are however, a great variety of doulas to support people through all walks of life.

  • Birth doula- for labor and delivery, and early postpartum

  • Postpartum doula- after delivery at home

  • Adoption doula

  • Bereavement doula- for loss

  • Death doula- for those on hospice and their families

And many more!

10.) How can my doula help during pregnancy and after my baby is born?

During pregnancy, a doula can educate you on any prenatal testing and procedures. They can answer questions about any pregnancy symptoms you may have and be able to give you helpful tips and solutions. Your doctor is concerned more about the health of you and your baby than your discomfort from normal pregnancy irritations. Your doula also helps your prepare prenatally for your labor with different exercises, discussions, and a birth plan. After your baby is born, doulas can, of course, help with lactation and finding needed resources, but she also helps you process your birth and can help you address any early parenting problems you may have. Some doulas have extra training in nutrition, pregnancy exercise, baby wearing, cloth diapering, belly binding, placenta prints, and even baby led weaning!

I hope this article has answered some of the questions you may have had about hiring a doula. Do you have questions that weren’t answered here? Drop them in the comments below!

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