What is a Doula?
A doula is a trained professional who provides expert guidance such as physical and emotional support through a significant health-related experience, such as childbirth, miscarriage, induced abortion, or stillbirth, as well as non-reproductive experiences. A doula may provide labor assistant support during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. A doula’s most important role is to provide attentive and continuous support during labor and delivery.
What is the Difference Between a Doula and a Midwife?
There is one significant difference between a midwife and a doula. Midwives provide medical care for you during pregnancy, birth, and the immediate postpartum period. Doulas provide you and your family with emotional, informational, and physical support during pregnancy, birth, and the immediate postpartum period.
What are the Benefits of Having a Doula?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine published a consensus statement supporting doula care as an important initiative to improve labor and birth outcomes for women with low-risk pregnancies. Other studies have shown that support from doulas during childbirth might be associated with:
- Decreased use of pain relief medication during labor
- Decreased incidence of C-sections
- Decrease in the length of labor
- Decrease in negative childbirth experiences
A doula might offer:
- Specific attention to physical comfort through calming techniques such as touch, massage, assistance with breathing, and other soothing actions
- Continuous emotional reassurance, encouragement, and comfort
- Information and updates about what’s happening during labor and the postpartum period, including explanations of procedures
- Support with easing communication between you and the hospital staff
- Guidance, care, and support for loved ones
- Assistance with breast-feeding
A doula’s services can vary, however, if you hire a birth doula you’ll typically get the following:
- One or two in-person prenatal visits (sometimes a postpartum visit as well)
- Personal access to the doula’s phone and e-mail to ask questions before labor
- Dedicated attention during the birth process
- Keep in mind that a doula does not provide medical advice, nor can she or he change the clinical recommendations of a midwife or an obstetrician. However, a doula will be there to support you, help you find the most comfortable position, provide massage for pain relief, and be your cheerleader and advocate.
What are Questions That I Should Ask When Interviewing Potential Doulas?
There are specific questions that you may want to ask when interviewing potential doulas, such as:
- How much training do they have as a doula?
- How many births have they attended?
- What are their philosophies about childbirth?
- What services do they provide?
- What is the cost of services?
Keep in mind that fees and insurance coverage vary. It’s important to discuss your preferences and concerns about pregnancy, labor, and delivery with your prospective doula.
What Is The Cost of Having a Doula?
Most expectant moms want to know if insurance will cover the cost of a doula. Parents who hire a doula should expect that it’s an out-of-pocket expense. A postpartum doula can cost on average between $20 and $50 per hour. This is dependent on location, experience, and whether the services are provided during the day or night.
Having a professional doula during first labor and birth could be both cost-effective and cost-saving when reimbursement for this care is less than $884. If the cost is too high for your budget, some doulas-in-training will work for less when trying to get experience or achieve their certification. Keep in mind that doula-in training is required to attend births and provide doula services, so some doulas may be willing to volunteer to earn their certification more quicker. Some doulas may have a payment plan. There are a lot of creative ways for this work.
Professional doula care during a woman’s first labor and birth is shown to lead to fewer cesarian births, fewer adverse maternal outcomes, and improved quality-adjusted life years in the woman’s first and subsequent births. Doula services to low-income and at-risk women have been shown to provide maternal support and reduce infant mortality.
If you would like to talk with Khairi and Little Angels’ Memorial about our doula services, you may contact us here.