Doulas and pregnancy – everything you need to know
A doula is a professional who provides support to people before, during, and after childbirth. Doulas are not medically trained, but they are experts in providing emotional physical, and informational support to people during childbirth and can be a great asset to have during your pregnancy to postpartum journey!
Whether you’re a first-time mom or pregnant parent or an experienced one, having a doula on hand can make a huge difference in the outcome of your labor and delivery. In this article, we aim to provide you with everything you need to know about doulas and their services.
What Does a Doula Do?
A doula helps coordinate childbirth by providing emotional support, physical assistance, and informational guidance throughout your pregnancy journey. They can help reduce anxiety and ensure a smooth experience for both the birthing parent or mother and the baby. Doulas also provide support to the partner or your birthing team, offering reassurance and practical advice when needed. Many doulas offer post-birth Or postpartum services such as home visits, help with breastfeeding/bodyfeeding, and baby care including support like diapering, bathing, help with pumping, making sure that the postpartum parent is fed, and nurtured, help with light baby-related household chores, and so much more. To put it simply, a birth doula is a professional labor support person who can make your pregnancy and labor easier, more comfortable, and perhaps even shorter.
Benefits of a Doula
There are many benefits to having a doula present during labor and delivery. Numerous studies have outlined the benefits of doula support. A recent Cochrane Review – Continuous Support for Women During Childbirth, summarized that with a supportive doula, People were less likely to Request pain relief medications, and were less likely to have a c-section birth. Additionally, they were more likely to report feeling less exhausted and overwhelmed, as well as having an overall positive experience of labor. Other studies have found that having a doula on the birth team reduces labor length by 25%, Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) use by 40%, and epidural requests by 60%.
Other benefits of a doula include:
– Reduced anxiety and stress
– Increased confidence and reduced fear of labor
– Improved communication between the birthing parent and their care providers
– Less need for medical interventions
– Increased satisfaction with the birth experience
– Increased likelihood of successful lactation
Having a doula is a great way to ensure that you have the best possible experience during labor and delivery!
How Much Does a Doula Cost?
The cost of hiring a doula varies significantly depending on where you live, how many visits you schedule, how experienced the Doula is, and the services offered, but they generally range from $500 to $5,000 with some doulas offering volunteer services and other doulas charging significantly more than the range we list. Some doulas offer a package deal that includes pre-and post-birth services.
There’s some good news if you’re anxious about how you’ll pay for a doula. While you may have to pay out of your own pocket, Some health insurance plans now offer doula services as a covered benefit. You may be able to pay with an FSA or HSA card. You can also have friends and family purchase gift cards for you to put toward doula services. Many newly qualified doulas may offer services at a lower cost in exchange for your evaluation as they work toward getting certified Or gaining experience. There are also many Community Doula organizations that directly support lower-income parents. Many doulas provide sliding scale pricing as well. Finally, there are also several states which provide Medicaid coverage for doula care.
How Do Doulas Become Qualified?
There is no one specific route that doulas take to become qualified. Some doulas are certified through well-respected organizations, while others may have gained their experience by attending births through the more traditional way of learning labor support through family members and friends. Some people learn through mentorship models of learning, as well. Some doulas have degrees in midwifery, social work, perinatal health, or other related fields. Many have extensive experience in the labor and delivery field, either as a nurse, the person who gave birth themselves, or other types of caregiver who has worked with birthing people Some doulas will never certify but have extensive experience before they decide to formally begin their career as a doula and other doulas will become certified and then begin attending births
Usually, a doula who is planning to pursue certification will need to complete 7 to 12 hours of childbirth education, at least 16 hours of birth doula training, and attend 2 to 5 births before they’re considered ready to be certified. However, these hours can vary depending on the organization or certification board that a doula chooses to work with.
Is a Doula Right for Me?
If you’re considering hiring a doula for your upcoming birth, it’s important to ask yourself the following questions:
– Am I looking for continuous emotional and physical support during labor?
– Do I want to avoid medical interventions and reduce the likelihood of their use whenever possible?
– Do I want someone to help me communicate with my care providers?
– Do I want someone to help me with initial lactation and baby care immediately after the birth?
If you answered yes to at least three of the questions, a doula may be an excellent choice for you. If you have a specific birth plan in mind, a doula can help advocate for you and make sure that your wishes are followed, when safe.
Although many partners want to be the primary support person during labor, some find that they need a break or want to step out for a bit. Having a doula can help take some of the pressure off of your partner and ensure that you have continuous support throughout your labor. Not only that, but both parents can benefit from a doula’s reassurance and validation!
How to Find a Doula?
It can sometimes take weeks, or even months to find the right doula for you and your upcoming birth. If you’re looking for a doula in your area, there are several ways to find one. Try contacting your local hospital or health care provider for a list of doulas in your area. You can also ask a friend or family member who they used; Remember that this person may not be in your budget or available for your due date. You can also search online for directories of doulas, or contact your local doula group for recommendations. These methods will typically result in a long list of people who you can then call or email individually to see who is available for your due date And who is a good fit.
Here at boober, we’ll match you with the right doula for you who fits your specific needs, budget, And availability for your due date – within days, leaving you with one less thing to worry about! We will also match you to doulas who fit certain criteria if you are looking for a person who has a similar life experience, race, religion, etc… anything that might make you feel a little more related to you if that is important to you.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, be sure to interview your doula. This will help you get a sense of their personality, practices, and what style of support would be best for you and your family.
What Questions Should You Ask Your Doula?
Before hiring a doula it is important to ask some questions to make sure that you would be a good fit for each other. Here are a few questions to get you started:
– What services will the doula provide during labor and delivery? what is included in your package?
– What is the doula’s approach or philosophy to labor and delivery?
– What is the doula’s experience in the labor and delivery field?
– What are the doula’s qualifications and training?
– How long has the doula been providing services?
– What is the doula’s fee and what does that include?
– What is the doula’s availability?
Where Do Doulas Work?
Since doulas work for you, most doulas will work wherever you are giving birth and will support you at home, at a birth center, or in the hospital. While they have experience and knowledge of childbirth, they are not medical professionals, and they do not provide clinical care or deliver babies.
Some people wonder if they should hire a doula when they have chosen a midwife to provide their clinical childbirth care. Even though a midwife will spend a considerable amount of time with you during your birth, if you use a birth center or hospital, you will likely be in labor at home for Much of the time. Having a birth doula at home can make you feel more supported until you’re ready to go to the birth center or hospital and can help you decide when the right time to travel to the place of birth is. A birth center or hospital midwife may also be responsible for multiple patients, so they may have to swap between them, but your doula will stay with you continuously, the whole time.
If any medical difficulties arise during your labor, your midwife’s or OBGYN’s first role is to ensure your and the baby’s safety. While your care provider is responsible for your physical health, they may not be able to provide all the emotional or physical support that you need. A doula is an excellent companion to a midwife or OBGYN and many care providers today highly encourage the use of doula care.
What Is The Difference Between a Midwife and a Doula?
Midwives are medically trained professionals who deliver babies and provide clinical pre and postnatal care. As we touched on briefly before, doulas are not medically trained, but they provide emotional and physical support to people during labor and delivery. Midwives often work together with doulas in childbirth settings to provide complete support.
Doula’s Role Post Birth
Most birth doulas provide support not just during labor and delivery, but also Provide some postpartum support after the birth. This could include: answering any parenting-related inquiries from parents such as feeding routines; settling into new schedules since a baby has been added; emotional support and education on baby’s cues and sleep patterns. Postpartum doulas come into your home and help you care for your newborn and for you after birth. Unlike baby nurses, who only care for your infant, they provide “YOU care” too providing physical and emotional recovery, newborn care, and education, and can help with sibling(s), home care, and more.
In the early days, weeks, and months following the birth, your doula understands that how you feel about your birth affects how you parent. A doula cannot change your experience of labor but they can help you talk it out and become more comfortable with it, which can lead to a deeper understanding. Also, unlike other people in your life, they will not tire of hearing the details and will be glad to answer any remaining questions you have! Finally, they are not related to you or close friends and therefore there is no baggage! They are wonderful, non-judgmental people who provide close care and support as you transition to Parenthood.
Whether you choose to go with a birth doula, postpartum doula, or a doula who provides both types of care having a specially trained professional to support you and your partner through labor, delivery, and the postnatal period can be an invaluable asset. By choosing the right support it’s easier to have a peaceful and comfortable birth, faster postnatal healing, and a more confident and relaxed parenting journey. Get matched with an experienced doula to help you through pregnancy, labor, and postpartum challenges. Here at boober, we can find you the right doula at the right price for you!
Photo by: 13th and Madison