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What Is A Doula And Why You Should Have One

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What is a doula if not one of the best birth support professionals? Get to know doulas here.

In this article:

  1. What Is a Doula?
  2. What’s the Meaning of the Word ‘Doula’?
  3. What Does a Doula Do?
  4. What Are the Types of Doulas?
  5. How Does the Doula Work with the Delivery Team During Labor?
  6. Is There a Difference Between a Doula and a Midwife?
  7. What Are the Benefits of Having a Doula?
  8. Are Doulas Only Useful for Unmedicated Birth?
  9. Where Do Doulas Work?
  10. What Training Do Doulas Undergo?
  11. How Much Do Doula Services Cost?
  12. Are Doula Services Covered by Insurance?
  13. How Do I Choose the Perfect Doula?
  14. What Questions Should I Ask a Potential Doula?
  15. What Are the Best Ways to Maximize Doula Services?
  16. Can a Doula Perform Medical Procedures?
  17. Why Can’t an Obstetrician or Midwife Provide Emotional and Mental Support?

What Is a Doula and How Can They Help Moms-to-Be

 

What Is a Doula?

Doulas are individuals who have a lot of experience and training in caring for pregnant women and the process of childbirth. They are also usually mothers themselves.

Doulas have a keen awareness and technical knowledge of pregnancy and labor, but a doula doesn’t support the mother-to-be in a medical capacity. Midwives or doctors are primarily responsible for the mother’s medical care.

A doula supports the expectant mother achieve her preferred birthing procedure. This includes labor with or without drugs or a cesarean section. Should a woman experience any complication during her pregnancy, a doula will support the mother in any way she can.

What’s the Meaning of the Word ‘Doula’?

The word ‘doula’, pronounced as ‘doo-la’, means ‘woman caregiver or servant’ in Greek. It also means a birth attendant. The more contemporary definition of a doula is someone who offers physical and emotional support to a mother and her partner before, during, and after childbirth.

What Does a Doula Do?

Pregnant getting a back massage from her doula | What is a Doula and Why You Should Have One

A doula’s role is essentially ‘mothering the mother.’ Depending on their training and skillset, doulas may provide the following services.

  • Preparing for birth
  • Creating a written birth preferences document and/or birth plan
  • Giving massages and other comforting techniques
  • Suggesting positions to help ease pain and promote smoother and more effective labor
  • Providing encouragement and reassurance
  • Coaching the mother through emotional blockages which they might experience during pregnancy and labor
  • Maintaining a relaxing environment for the mother with aromatherapy and soothing music
  • Assisting the mother during negotiations for birth preferences
  • Taking photos or videos during the birth, and the precious first moments of the whole family
  • Supporting the mother and her baby during the first couple of weeks after birth

Doulas may have certifications and technical knowledge about various forms of therapy. So, it helps to get a full gauge of their professional background before hiring them. The best bonus of having a doula is having professional support person throughout pregnancy.

What Are the Types of Doulas?

The two types of doulas are birth doulas and postpartum or postnatal doulas. Some doulas can perform both of these roles.

The major difference between the two types is that the postnatal doula cares for the mother after birth. Their doula responsibilities include physical and emotional support for the mother. They can also perform simple home duties.

Studies show that postnatal doulas have a significant impact on the wellbeing of new moms. Birth doulas are present during labor and provide support for the mother and her delivery team.

How Does the Doula Work with the Delivery Team During Labor?

If necessary, a doula can help the mother communicate with the medical team during labor. Doulas don’t perform clinical tasks or replace the nurses and other medical staff.

Doulas can also take over the father’s coaching duties now and then during labor. In this case, the dad-to-be can focus on providing emotional support to the mother.

Is There a Difference Between a Doula and a Midwife?

It may seem like a midwife and a doula are the same since they both help mothers through childbirth. Also, moms-to-be who elect for a drug-free birth like to seek the help of both professionals.

Their roles in the pregnancy and childbirth processes are distinct from each other. Midwives are healthcare providers, while doulas act as a birth coach.

Midwives can deliver babies in birthing centers, hospitals, and at home. Doulas don’t perform the tasks of healthcare providers. Doulas add extra services during labor, like coaching the mother with techniques to manage pain levels.

What Are the Benefits of Having a Doula?

Pregnant woman with her midwife | What is a Doula and Why You Should Have One

Doulas have professional training and experience in pregnancy and childbirth support. They are intuitive and attentive to the needs of a laboring mother.

As a birth companion, doulas support parents-to-be face difficulties during pregnancy and labor. Doulas also serve as the voice of reason who can support decision-making processes. They can help give advice when the parents-to-be feel too stressed to make decisions.

One of the responsibilities of a doula is providing support for the other family members. The process of childbirth can have some peak intensity moments. Doulas are able to stay calm and focused which can be challenging for other relatives.

Doula services also include helping explain any birth complications to the family. They do so with compassion, without judgment and confusing medical jargon. This way, it’s easier for everyone to understand what’s going on in the delivery room.

Are Doulas Only Useful for Unmedicated Birth?

Doula support can be beneficial and useful no matter what type of birth procedure the mother prefers. The role of a doula is to help moms-to-be have a safe birth experience. They don’t help choose the mother’s type of birth.

Doulas help medicated mothers deal with any potential side effects. Even with medication, the mother might still feel some discomfort. The doula works to make the mother feel as comfortable as possible.

Throughout a cesarean section, a doula is attentive to the mother. They can also let the mother know what’s going on during the procedure.

RELATED: 10 Things About Giving Birth Your Doctor Won’t Tell You

Where Do Doulas Work?

A doula works in public and private hospitals, birth centers, or at the mother-to-be’s home. They go wherever the mother goes and whenever she needs support during pregnancy and labor.

What Training Do Doulas Undergo?

Doulas undergo various activities and training programs. They are mainly trained to provide professional birth support. Doula certification programs are not considered medical training.

Doulas attend and observe several births and attend prenatal education classes. They are also required to read materials about pregnancy. Doulas-in-training write reports and assignments about their readings and observations.

How Much Do Doula Services Cost?

The cost of doula service varies depending on different factors. These include years of experience, skillset, location, and the service packages they offer.

The total cost ranges from $800 to $2,500, averaging around $1,200. Doulas may either charge by the hour or offer a flat fee. Doula services also include a prenatal visit, childbirth support, and a postnatal check-up.

Are Doula Services Covered by Insurance?

Some insurance companies cover some or all of the cost of doula services. The coverage depends on your insurance plan.

Contact the benefits department of your insurance company to get further details. In some cases, you’ll need to pay the doula first and then get a receipt which you submit to claim your reimbursement.

How Do I Choose the Perfect Doula?

It’s best to speak to several doulas instead of hiring the first one you meet. Every doula is unique and can offer varying services.

It’s important for both parents to be present when interviewing potential doulas. Both mom and dad should feel comfortable and assured around their chosen doula.

What Questions Should I Ask a Potential Doula?

It’s important to ask about their training credentials and professional experience. Also, gauge if a potential doula can deliver any specific needs you may have in your pregnancy.

When interviewing a potential doula, try to get a feel of how well they might fit with the family on a personal level. Here are some suggestions on what to ask a potential doula.

  • What doula or birth support trainings have you taken?
  • Why did you decide to become a doula?
  • What services are you able to provide?
  • What are your fees and their inclusions?
  • Will you available for my due date in [month]?
  • Will you able to create a doula birth plan with me?
  • What happens if you aren’t available at the time I give birth?

What Are the Best Ways to Maximize Doula Services?

Before the doula’s engagement, make sure that you communicate your expectations clearly. Express what kind of support you’ll need throughout pregnancy and labor.

Make prenatal and postnatal plans with your doula. If they’ll provide postnatal care after the birth, what type of support will you need?

Postnatal care may include light household tasks, breastfeeding support, postnatal follow-ups, and babysitting. Planning these early on can help you make maximize a doula-assisted birth.

Can a Doula Perform Medical Procedures?

The role of a doula is supportive, not medical. They can’t carry out medical procedures. These include checking a baby’s heartbeat, breaking the mother’s water, checking the mother’s cervix, or delivering a baby. Doulas provide positive reinforcement and personal support to the mother and her partner.

Why Can’t an Obstetrician or Midwife Provide Emotional and Mental Support?

Maternity care professionals usually have a great bedside manner during the childbirth process. They can also provide support and answer questions during labor. But, their first and main priority is the health of the mother and her baby.

Obstetricians, midwives, and other maternity professionals need to prioritize urgent matters. They focus on birth timelines, medical procedures, and monitoring and completing necessary paperwork.

Also, they may be too busy to provide emotional and personal support during medical tests. An emergency may sometimes arise where they’ll need to perform an urgent procedure. In this instance, they will concentrate solely on the health and safety of both mother and child.

Most obstetricians, maternity nurses, and midwives will be caring for more than one laboring mother. This means that the delivery team may not be present with the mother for long portions of their labor.

Medical procedures will need the utmost attention of healthcare professionals present. So, they won’t be able to explain to the mother or father what’s happening during these procedures.

This is why the presence of a doula can be highly beneficial for laboring mothers. Doulas will provide the emotional support and personal care the mother needs to have a safe and satisfactory pregnancy.

Check out this video that talks about doulas and natural childbirth from Rebekah Borucki:

At the end of the day, what is a doula and what does their support really mean? The purpose of a doula is anchored on a healthy pregnancy and a happy family. The support and presence of a doula can help parents-to-be have a safe and satisfying childbirth experience, from early pregnancy and well into motherhood.

Would you consider hiring a doula for your pregnancy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

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