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What the heck is a Doula?

August 17, 2015

 

This word DOULA is becoming more and more popular in parenting circles- and you might be like a growing majority of pregnant parents wondering what is a doula and do you need one? Read on to find out!

 

-What is a Doula?

A doula is traditionally a women experienced and knowledgeable in the birth process who offers labor support and companionship for pregnant mothers and their partners. Every doula is trained to provide emotional, physical and informational support.

 

-What does a Doula do?

The greatest thing a doula can provide is supporting the laboring mother and her birthing wishes. A good doula supports all birth settings including birth centers, hospitals and home births. This also includes the support of medicated and non-medicated births and cesarean deliveries.

     *Emotional Support

The doula recognizes birth as a key experience for the laboring woman and takes on a nurturing and loving role for the expectant mom. She gives continuous attention, words of encouragement and preserves and protects the memory of the experience for the woman.

     *Physical Support

The doula is familiar with the normalcy of labor and birth and encourages Mom to trust her body and the process. She has great ideas for changing positions, relaxation techniques and other comfort measures. She will also encourage the partner to participate at their comfort level.

     *Informational Support

The doula is able to educate her moms and partners on pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum matters. She helps them understand the risks and benefits of procedures and interventions as well as the appropriate alternatives. She helps Mom prepare and carry out her birth plan. She helps facilitate communication between the laboring mom, her partner and her care providers.

 

-Is there anything a Doula won’t do?

There is not much that a doula doesn’t do. She will do her very best to anticipate and provide many of your needs during pregnancy, labor, birth and beyond. There are, however, a few things a doula will not do:

A Doula does not:

– Replace any medical staff

– Perform medical tasks

– Provide postpartum clinical care

– Make decisions on behalf of the mother

– Intervene in clinical care, or

– Make the partner feel unnecessary or useless

 

-Why do YOU need a Doula?

Although the idea and act of women supporting each other during labor has been around for centuries, the professional doula is making an overwhelmingly positive impression on our birthing scene these days. Recent studies have shown that having a doula at your birth drastically decreases your odds of medical intervention.

 

-What is the difference between a Doula and a Midwife?

This is a common question, many people mix up the two terms. What you see listed above is everything a doula is and does; she is a great source of support but does not have any medical training or authority. A midwife is a medical professional with extensive training, education and clinical experience. A midwife is certified and licensed to provide family planning, prenatal care, prescribe some medications and deliver babies.

 

-How do I hire a Doula?

Doulas are usually available for hire as independent contractors. The best way to find one is through word of mouth, but if you have to start from scratch an internet search in your area should produce good results. Pick a handful (3-5) of doulas to interview. The personal connection you feel with the individual is going to be the best indicator of compatibility for your birth.

   *Questions to ask your potential Doula:

     What training have you had?

     What is your fee and what does it include?

     Do you have a backup and may we meet her?

     What is your experience as a birth doula?

     What is your philosophy about birth and how do you plan on supporting our wishes?

     May we call you with questions and concerns before and after the birth?

     When will you join us in labor?

     Are you available to meet after the birth to review labor and answer questions?

 

Once you decide on the right fit make sure your expectations and needs and your doula’s policies are in writing for you both to review as necessary. Completing an evaluation for your doula after the birth is an excellent way to give feedback that will help your doula continue to provide the best care for her future clients.

 

-How much does a Doula cost?

Doulas work on a very broad pay scale. A doula can charge anywhere from $200-$1,500, but the average range is $500-$900. Don’t think you can afford one? Many doulas are willing to negotiate or work on a sliding scale. Contact a local service and express your need so they can determine how best to serve you.

 

-So, now what?

If you have just discovered for the first time what a doula is, spread the word! My San Diego Doula's goal is to educate our community on birthing options and ultimately make every birth a doula-assisted birth. If you are an expectant parent in the San Diego area and interested in hiring a doula, please send us a message! We are always available to answer questions and provide resources to parents whether they are our own clients or not.

 

Happy Birthing!

 

 

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