Considering the support of a doula in your upcoming birth and not sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place, mama! We’ve got all the details on birth doulas, from what doula services entail to whether a doula is right for you.
The word doula originates from Greek and means “woman’s servant.” Her role is to act as a labor companion, providing emotional, physical, and educational support to the mother, both before, during, and after labor. Doulas are non-clinical practitioners, meaning they don’t provide medical advice. Rather, they listen to you and your partner’s needs and advocate for you during labor. While there are different types of doulas, including antepartum and postpartum doulas, we’re going to focus on the most popular type: birth doulas.
In the months prior to your due date, you’ll begin to develop a relationship with your doula. You’ll talk about your fears and concerns and create a birth plan together. She’ll educate you on the labor process and equip you with different pain management techniques to use during birth.
Call your doula when you’re in the beginning stages of labor. She’ll often come over to your house and help you decide when to go to the hospital. If your labor moves quickly, she’ll meet you at the hospital. During labor, your doula will provide physical support, emotional support, and informational support and advocacy.
Because there is no licensing agency for doulas, you do not need to be trained to call yourself a doula. We highly recommend seeking a doula that has been certified by an organization that oversees training such as DONA International, Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA), or The International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA).
It varies person to person, but oftentimes, you’ll contact your doula when you begin to labor and she’ll have you time your contractions. Once your labor has progressed, she’ll come over and help you labor at home until it’s time to leave for the hospital or birth center (if that’s where you plan to give birth).
Yes! In 2017, a study was published that found that mothers who received the continuous support of a doula were:
In fact, there were no negative findings of having a doula present at labor.
We’ve got it all below!
Doula Interview Questions
Once you’ve selected a doula, book her as soon as possible to ensure your due date is reserved. This will also give you additional time to get to know one another and for you to share your hopes for your labor and delivery. It’s important that you feel your personalities mesh (some like quiet, reserved doulas; others prefer those with a bubbly, sparkly personality), so we recommend interviewing 2-3 doulas if you can!
The cost of hiring a doula varies greatly by region and experience, but usually costs between $800-$2500. This often includes a prenatal visit, labor and delivery, and postpartum follow-up. Some doulas offer scholarships and sliding scales and if you have a training program near you, doula students may be available for free to gain more experience. Adding doula services to your baby registry is also a great way to lower the cost and have friends and family participate in your little one’s arrival.