Many women go into childbirth underprepared and underinformed; this is where hiring a doula makes a huge difference. It can be overwhelming trying to sort through the sometimes conflicting information related to birth available online, in books or from family and friends. You may also have fears or concerns that are keeping you from trusting your body.
A doula is focused on staying informed on the facts about interventions, newborn procedures and prenatal/postpartum care. She will be able to answer many of your questions and connect you to important resources and support, locally or online, that will give you access to helpful information and provide to you a community of people with similar experiences or concerns.
Through her personal experience assisting other mothers and/or going through childbirth herself, she will also be able to help you to release your fears and connect more strongly to your mothering instincts.
It’s a good idea to interview different doulas so that you can be sure the particular style of care and personality of the one you choose will fit well with you and your partner. You should meet several times prior to delivery (depending on how soon in your pregnancy you contact your doula) to discuss your ideas and plans about the kind of birth you hope to have and to build a relationship of trust. Typically your doula will also want to meet the other members of your support team so that they too will be comfortable with her during the birth. Most doulas will want to do a follow up postpartum visit to check in on how you and your baby are doing and to discuss your feelings about the birth.
Doulas hold space and provide assistance to laboring women whether they choose hospital births, birthing center or home births – regardless of the level of intervention. A doula should not leave you feeling judged for any decisions you make about where or how to birth your baby. As an advocate for women, a doula should understand the importance of encouraging and empowering mothers where they are in their own personal journey. All too often, care providers take power from women in birth; doulas work to give it back.
Statistics show that through hiring a doula, women significantly lower their risk of having many forms of medical intervention, mother-infant bonding is strengthened, breastfeeding success rates are increased and the mother’s memory of her birth experience is enhanced.
Having a doula present during labor benefits your entire birth team; she is not there to replace anyone but rather to make sure that you have continuous support and everyone involved is focused on your needs.
A prenatal doula can assist you in finding the best comfort measures throughout your birth experience, can guide others present in finding the most fitting ways to attend to your needs, can offer breaks to those actively assisting you and help you find your center during times when labor may feel overwhelming.
There are different paths doulas can take to reach certification, while some decide not to get certified at all but are still very qualified and offer the same level of care and support. Be sure to ask for references whether a doula is certified or not.
The typical cost for hiring a doula can be anywhere from $500 – $1200 depending on the area in which you live and the services she has to offer. Often times, doulas training for certification will be willing to work for much less or even free. Many established doulas provide additional assistance through placenta encapsulation, wellness coaching, pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding photography and more.
You can find local doula support through certification websites like DONA or CAPPA, by asking your Midwife or OB or by simply doing an internet search for your area.
Once you bring your newborn home, you may want to hire a postpartum doula; they typically work for an hourly rate and can help with breastfeeding tips, light housework, cooking basic meals, giving you time to rest and more.
Every woman deserves a doula, especially in a time where we are taught that birth is something to be feared. We must reframe our ideas about birth together and take back our power.
“Birth is not only about making babies. Birth is about making mothers — strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.” -Barbara Katz Rothman