What is a doula?
A doula is a trained professional who is skilled, knowledgable, and able to provide continuous emotional support, evidence-based education, and compassionate care as families navigate through the questions, challenges, and emotions during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum.
How long have you been a doula and approximately how many births have you attended?
I have been a doula for about two years now. I do not recall the number of births I have attended because I personally believe that the power of intuition in the birth room is stronger than the number of births I have experienced. If I had to guess I would say I have attended somewhere within the mid-twenties. I have learned through my journey as a doula that my previous experiences cannot prepare me for the unique journey of my next client.
What is the role of a doula during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum?
If I were to describe my role in just one sentence I would say that the role of a doula is to reduce fear and anxiety and to increase confidence in the parents. There is way more to my job than just that. I am a labor and postpartum doula.
A doula is not a midwife. A doula does not perform any clinical tasks; rather a doula is a viable and beneficial addition to the birth team. The obstetrician or the midwife is responsible for keeping the mother and baby safe during birth. The doula provides support in all of the other spheres of labor. A doula can provide support in all birth settings including home births, birthing centers, and hospitals during medicated and non-medicated births.
The most common description you will hear is that a doula provides emotional, educational, and physical support. However, it can be hard to imagine all of the roles of a doula when hearing that concise definition. A woman experiences many emotions during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum. I, as their doula, am emotionally available to hear and to support my clients through whatever they are feeling and experiencing. As I teach in my child birthing class, the emotions of the mother strongly impact the birth process and outcomes. Emotional support is very important in labor, as well as postpartum.
Doulas also have a wealth of information and resources to share with their clients. As people face the decision making process during their pregnancy and birth, we as doulas can provide information to help the parents to make an informed decision in whatever situation they find themselves in.
Physical support is quite obvious in labor. My understanding of childbirth physiology allows me to know and advise my clients of different laboring positions to better support the mother’s body and baby’s descent. Comfort measures and relaxation are also key when providing physical support during labor. As a postpartum doula, I not only provide support to the mother during the transition into motherhood and all of the challenges in this season, but I also am trained and experienced in infant care and certified in postpartum nutrition. After birth I provide physical support to the mothers and families by helping out around their houses, completing little chores, feeding the mother and helping with family meal preparation, helping to care for the baby so that the parents are able to rest and much more. As a postpartum doula, I basically mother the mother.
What inspired you to become a doula?
I have four children and through my own journey of motherhood, I have come to believe that we were never meant to go through life alone. We are meant to have experienced women surrounding us as women and mothers to support us and help us navigate through life. We as humans are meant to have a village supporting us. I have always been passionate about supporting the mothers surrounding me in my village, helping with babies and breastfeeding, and just offering all that I have learned as a mom. One day it just clicked for me that what I have already been doing is basically the role of a doula. I had to then complete doula training and receive certifications to become certified labor and postpartum doula. I have continued to educate myself through various programs and now offer labor and postpartum services, childbirth education courses, and postpartum preparation classes.
I actually created a Facebook group, The Motherhood Village, for mothers in the growing stages so that they can have a community to love and support them during this season of life. This group allows me to support many other women around me and not just my clients.
How does an expecting mother find a doula?
The most common way to find a doula in your area is Google. Some providers may have doulas that they recommend to their clients and are familiar with. Most doulas offer complimentary initial consultations so that parents are able to meet a doula and see if they click. I am pretty easy to access. I am easy to find on Facebook, Instagram, and to visit my website click here.
What are the benefits of having a doula during labor?
Studies show that doula support can decrease the use of interventions during labor and decrease the risk of cesarean deliveries. Doula support also contributes to decreasing the incidence of postpartum depression. Overall, parents have better birthing experiences with the support of a doula. Aside from the data that the studies show, if you look at how humans operate, we do way better when we have emotional support and someone to depend on. We feel safer when we have a knowledgeable and experienced person by our side. We feel more confident knowing that someone believes in us. I am a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) certified doula and so I naturally support many VBAC families. A number of times I have heard from my clients that just me believing in them, encouraged them the most. I strongly believe that just believing in someone is enough for them to succeed. I am really there to give confidence and believe in them during the seasons. I don’t have magic power, the power is already within the mother, and I just remind them that they have the power within to succeed.
What is the best part of what you do?
The best part of what I do is seeing parents walk out of the entire experience of bringing another life into this world feeling supported and empowered. A mother remembers her birth experience(s) for the rest of her life and postpartum experiences affect the coming years of motherhood and parenthood. I truly believe that the support that I provide can make it a more positive experience.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Honestly, the most challenging part of what I do is not being able to do more. I know there are families that would greatly benefit from what I offer but cannot afford it. At the same time, I understand that I cannot offer to work for free because that is just not fair to me or my family. Even though I always try to offer whatever support I can to everyone fairly, I feel like it’s never enough. I truly wish that there were grants available to families or that insurance would be willing to cover doula services.
What is the general cost of hiring a doula?
Doulas are not medical providers and therefore we cannot bill insurance for our services. However, I have heard of some families submitting their doula bills to insurance and receiving reimbursement. I know that people can use their Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for doula services. Prices are variant depending on location. You can find doula services that range anywhere from $600-$2,000 for labor packages and postpartum services from $25-$40 per hour. Many doulas offer payment plans and families and friends can contribute to the payments.
Finding a doula earlier in your pregnancy is often helpful to be able to budget appropriately and begin saving for doula services. Families and friends can also pitch in for doula support and can gift you postpartum hours. I recommend that my client’s families and friends contact me directly and contribute financially to their loved one’s birthing and postpartum experience. I strongly believe that if there is a will, there is a way. If a person believes in the importance of doula support, they will find a way to make it work.