Do I Really Need A Doula?
Are you wondering what a birth doula is and why you would need one at your birth?
Do you want to hire a doula but think doulas are out of your budget?
Are you thinking that a doula might replace your partner and leave her/him feeling not part of the birth?
Do you think a doula is unnecessary if you are planning on an epidural or if you are having a cesarean birth?
We’re glad you’re taking the time to look into what a doula is and why you may want her included as a part of your birth team. You have probably heard that a birth doula is there to provide emotional, physical and informational support for the mother during labor – but there is so much more to that phrase.
Parents Hire A Doula Because Birth Has Changed…
Birth has changed in many ways over the past 100 years. “Normal, physiological birth” has left the home, where the birthing person was tended to by her family, friends and midwife who knew what normal birth looked like. With growing technology, birth has evolved into a full scale, for profit business. The United States has standardized the birth process with Obstetricians(surgeons), with monetary ties for hospital and corporations. Having a midwife, whose main job is safeguarding normal birth in a hospital setting, is now rare.
With these changes, and with most of us now giving birth in hospitals, we have lost our physical and emotional support out of “cost efficiency.” With nurses only able to give small amounts of physical support time per room(on average, only 12% of your labor time in the hospital is “active support time” with a nurse)* a doula is needed now more important than ever. Part of keeping calm and out of fear(which slows or stops labor) is having trusted support that is there to comfort and guide you as your needs change. A doula never leaves your side.
Having a doula as a part of your team allows you to make informed decisions about your baby’s birth as the changes are happening. Your partner knows YOU better than anyone. But a doula brings the knowledge of our birth system, how labor works, how to keep labor moving forward, what the best comfort techniques are for each moment(including when to leave the two of you alone and do nothing) and how to keep your partner supported and energized through the birth experience.
What Is A Doula?
A birth doula is a professionally trained person, who has taken on the specialty of birth support. Becoming a doula usually comes from a deep passion for birth and desire to share the options one has within that spectrum. A doula is trained in how to support all types of birth, both in and out of the hospital setting. They have training in medical interventions, medical language and the effects interventions have on a laboring person and how to support the birthing family through whatever comes up. They have trained to support medicated, non-medicated and cesarean births. When doulas take the time to complete their doula certification, you will know they have done even more work to shine as a professional doula. All doulas are independent contractors, run their own businesses and do not work directly for the Center. We list doulas who have met a specific criteria and share our same birth philosophy to support families during birth and postpartum.
One of the most essential reasons to hire a doula is that they work exclusively for you and not the hospital or your care provider. This is very important if you want non-biased information before, during and after your birth process. They can translate medical terms and help you find the questions to ask your provider for different options. Doulas help you labor at home as long as possible to decrease the use of interventions if you want a natural birth or help your body be in a great labor pattern before your epidural is placed. And yes, a doula is also a life saver in a cesarean birth. A doula is simply there to support your choices.
Birth doulas will also help you prepare ahead of time with at least two prenatal visits in your home(or on the computer during the Pandemic). The prenatal visits help you set up your home for labor, create a birth plan and an opportunity to develop trust within your birth team. They also provide one postpartum visit to see that things are going well and that you have the resources you need.
Doulas do not replace your partner or take over your partner’s role. Your partner has an intimate knowledge of you and knows you better than anyone. The doula’s role is to ease your partner’s labor responsibilities(timing contractions, feeding the two of you, knowing when to leave for the hospital etc.) so that your partner can focus on you and your needs in each moment. Your doula will be watching over the labor, assisting when needed and giving your partner a break when they need one. YOU are never left alone. It’s continuous support at its finest.
Your Doula Can Help You Create A More Intimate Birth Experience For Your Baby’s Birth…
As birth workers and educators, we always want all of our families to have a doula. We have seen firsthand the difference doula support makes. Families feel more confident, go into labor with less fear and have better outcomes. This is why we train doulas and connect them to the families we work with.
The doulas work begins the second they are hired in your pregnancy. Getting to know what you envision for your birth, the doula will be able to recommend birthing classes that will help you meet those ideals. A doula will also be able to support you with the best tools if your needs change during pregnancy.
Doulas are equipped with endless resources to help you with anything that comes up. They are experts in laboring positions, both in and out of the hospital, and become that extra set of hands so you are never left alone if your partner needs to eat or go to the bathroom. Remember, that the idea of a doula is not new. It used to be our community who supported our births. Less stress and worry for your family allows labor to move forward so you can go with the flow for whatever you baby needs in their birth.
How Much Is A Doula?
A doula’s fee should be directly related to their education and experience level(how many births they have attended, certifications they hold and continuing education they have acquired). We have made it easy for you to source a doula that has completed the certification process, has a reasonable fee, and has a built-in network of other women with the same educational criteria. The doulas that are on the Birth Education Center preferred list have had to apply and have met a high standard in order to be selected. This takes the guess work for you on whether or not the doula is certified and what their level of experience is.
These doulas have been through a national certification and have certified with that Doula organization. They have taken the full 5 week Hypnobirthing series and have studied with Care to know the method backwards and forwards. Care can only vouch for doulas that she knows and has worked closely with. The doulas on our site are non-competitive and all work together as backups. They understand that your baby knows who is supposed to attend their birth and they trust that selection process. It is, after all, all about your baby and making their one birth experience beautiful.
You may still have questions or concerns about working with a Doula…
When Is The Right Time To Start Working With A Doula?
Doulas cost the same whether you hire them early or late so do it as soon as possible and start that pregnancy support! There are so many things to plan for and do before your baby comes! And looking into a doula may feel like just one more thing to do. However, planning ahead is important if you want a good birth experience for yourselves and your baby. Knowing all of your birth options and why a doula is a vital part of those options, can shift your birth experience to a whole other level of greatness. Doulas are now a necessity in our current birth culture.
How Do I Pay For A Doula?
Some HSAs(Health Savings Accounts) and FSAs(Flex Spending Accounts) cover doulas as reimbursable. Many families also build in payment for their doulas(birth and/or postpartum doulas) into their birth registry. Parents ask their family and friends, in lieu of a gift, to contribute to the doula expenses. The most amazing part is that they usually get money towards the expenses AND a gift because everybody wants to buy for a new baby! Most doulas offer payments so hiring one earlier allows you to pay over time.
The Next Step In Hiring a Doula…
We suggest that you interview three doulas even if you really like the first one! This then gives you the option of meeting two more people who could potentially be your backup doula if your doula was sick or at another birth temporarily. Click here to see the main page where the doulas are listed by experience and price. You can go directly to their doula website and their social media to get a feel for who you want to interview. Check out the articles listed on the top of this page for more information on doulas and questions to ask a doula in an interview. Happy hiring!
* (Barnett et al. 2008)