January 6, 2017

What is a Doula?

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What is a Doula?

A Doula, also known as a labor coach, is someone who helps you through labor and acts as an advocate for you. Usually, they are female and their main focus is supporting the mom during labor and childbirth. Some may even stay to help out afterward and many offer additional services such as Hypnobirthing and placenta encapsulation. If your partner is involved, the Doula will often work with them and teach them some pain relief techniques so they can take turns supporting the mom.

Doula's are great for anyone, but especially if you plan on going the more natural route. They will go over your birth plan with you so once you are in the hospital or birth center, they know what you want and will talk to your doctor for you. They basically act as the messenger between you and your doctor in order to follow your birth plan as close as possible, but remember things can change as birth is unpredictable.

I plan on giving birth in a hospital with a midwife, but all my midwives recommend having a Doula since they are not able to be with us 24/7 like a Doula can. It wasn't something we really considered until they mentioned it and it sounded like a good idea, especially since this is our first and we have no idea what to expect. Many of my family members, surprisingly, have had Doula's and highly recommend having one, so thus began our search for a Doula.

How to Choose a Doula?

First, I highly recommend using Doula Match to find a Doula in your area. Doula Match will search by availability for you due date and will give you profiles for all the Doula's in your area along with their price point. If not Doula Match, then my second go to would be family and friends to see who they used and recommend, or you can ask your midwives or OBGYN for their recommendations.

Doula prices range dramatically from as low as $100 to as high as $1500. This is because they often work privately so they can set their rates, and the higher the rate, the more experience the Doula tends to have. In some cases, you may qualify to have a free Doula, but that depends on if your area has a program like that available to you.

Once you figure out your price point, you will want to make a list of Doulas that fit your budget and research them. Once you find one you like, you will want to interview her to make sure she is a good fit for you and your family, and that you feel comfortable around her. I have provided a list of some interview questions below.

Doula Interview Questions

  • Why did you become a Doula?
  • How many births have you attended? What is your experience?
  • Do you have a backup in case you are unable to attend the birth? 
  • Do you offer a refund if you can't attend?
  • Are you able to help with breastfeeding?
  • What are your views on pain medication?
  • Will you meet at our home while in early labor or will you meet us at the hospital while in active labor?
  • Am I able to contact you at any time with questions?
  • How long will you stay after the birth?
  • Do you do prenatal and/or postpartum visits?
  • How do you work with and involve my partner during the birth process?
  • How many clients do you take per month?
  • How do you take payment? 
  • Would you be willing and able to take photos using our camera during and after the birth? 

Our Doula Experience

Our Doula was amazing and I am so glad we chose to have one. My labor went super fast and it was intense. I don't think I could have managed without her. She was there helping to relieve the pain and also advocated for us. This allowed my husband to stay by my side and comfort me, while she did everything else from grabbing ice chips to talking to the nurses. 

After the birth, she even ran out to get Epsom salt so I could take a bath later (recommended by the midwife to help with healing as I suffered a second-degree tear) since the hospital didn't have any on hand. She also took photos for us after the birth.

Overall I highly recommend having a Doula. Having that extra support makes the birth experience a lot better.

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  1. I had no idea what a Doula was until this post! Thank you for sharing, and I love that you've provided interview questions. Super helpful!

  2. I had only heard a few things about Doulas and this post definitely clued me in!! Thanks!!

  3. I have always wanted to try a Doula. I think I may give one a try my next baby.

    1. I would use my Doula again in a heartbeat! Definitely recommend a Doula whether it is your first, second, third, etc. birth!

  4. I've heard about doulas although didn't realise how common they were. I think it's a great idea to have one during what can be a difficult (but blessed I'm sure!) time. I'm definitely going to have one when I have a baby!

    Amanda | http://ldnrose.com

    1. They are getting a lot more popular now! I never heard of them until my pregnancy and the midwife mentioned it. We ended up asking family to see if they had one or would recommend one, not expecting much as they were all older so didn't think Doulas were as common then, but we were pleasantly surprised!

  5. This was something I wish I would have gone with when my son was born. I knew about them but didn't think I needed one! The interview part is very helpful!

  6. I had a terrible birth experience with my second child because of a failed attempt at a VBAC and some complications. I've often wondered if a doula might have helped things turn out better. Not actually changing what happened necessarily, but helping me get through it all. I wish I would've looked into it more. I hope this great article helps other moms.

  7. I never really wanted to get a doula, because my midwives and Doctor were awesome! maybe next time i'll consider it...

  8. I had a doula with both my kids and loved it! She was so helpful both to me and my husband. And helped keep the nurses in line when they tried to vary from my birth plan.

  9. With number two on the way, I am pinning this. I did not have one with the first and it was a terrible experience. Changed OBGYNS and I am hoping for a better outcome. Or at least to feel like the doctor cares.

    1. Keep in mind that your doctor may not be the one to deliver your baby. If my midwife did not arrive when she did, the on call OBGYN was going to catch the baby. My midwife clocked in at 8am, baby was born at 8:10am, that's how close it was! I gave birth on Christmas Eve, holidays are the worst when it comes to hospital staff! So having a Doula was great because we had someone there that we knew.

  10. I am a doula in Ottawa ON. I doula in N.Y. and other parts of Canada within reasonable driving distance. If you have questions about doula-ing, I'm happy to answer them

  11. My SIL wanted to be my Doula when I had my last daughter and I wish she did!

  12. I LOVE this! I really want to be a doula but haven't gotten around to the official aspect of it. I helped my sister for her labor and I'm helping out a friend who's due in January. I'm so excited to do it maybe part time. Birth is so magical and I feel honored that people are willing to let me be part of that!


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