What is a Doula? Should I hire a Doula?
If you’re interested in a natural birth, chances are you’ve heard a lot about doulas. A doula can be a valuable support person to bring with you to labor, to help you and your birth partner implement the tools you learn in your childbirth class. So, what is a doula and do you need to hire one?
What is a Doula?
A doula is your advocate to achieve a positive birth experience. She is a companion that provides emotional, physical, and informational support during pregnancy and throughout your labor. Doulas are present to comfort and support the mother and coach. She should not function as a go-between for the laboring couple and the health care provider. She does not replace the partner/spouse; rather her goal is to enhance the confidence of the primary support person by offering practical advice and experience.
What services do Doulas provide?
While each doula will offer her own package of services, you can anticipate something similar to the following:
- 1 to 2 prenatal visits
- Phone and email support during pregnancy and then 24 hours a day beginning just prior to your due date and for a period of time after the birth
- On-call status
- Continuous labor support
- Immediate postpartum support, up to maybe 2 hours after the birth
- Candid pictures of the birth, if requested
How do I choose a Doula?
Choosing a doula is a very personal decision and it is certain that not just anyone is a good fit. Those who surround you as you labor and birth your baby must be people with whom you feel comfortable and connected. Most doulas offer no-cost interviews to provide prospective clients with the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about their services. Interview many doulas and be open as you share your vision for your birth experience. Be patient as you look for that “right match.”
What will my OB think if I hire a Doula? Why the stigma about Doulas?
Your health care provider wants you to have the best birth experience possible. If you feel that a doula will help you to feel more confident and prepared during labor, then chances are your provider will welcome the presence of your doula. However, it’s best to discuss your plan to hire a doula with your OB or midwife beforehand so that everyone can be on board with your birth plan. While most doulas stay within the scope of their practice, unfortunately some few have sought to advocate for the laboring couple by acting as a go-between between the couple and the healthcare staff, over-stepping the partner’s role and sometimes creating a negative stigma for doulas in general. Be open with your provider and your doula about your expectations, and you’ll set yourself up for success!
Do you have to have a doula if you’re trying for a natural, unmedicated birth?
Your doula is a paid support person who is experienced in helping moms cope with labor. If you feel like you have a good support team for your labor in place (husband, mom, friends, etc), and also if your partner feels comfortable with the support team and his/her role, then you could move forward confidently without a doula. If this isn’t the case, hiring a doula might be a good option to help increase the support system you have during labor.
How much does a Doula cost?
Doulas charge a wide range of fees, depending on their certification and experience. Some doulas-in-training will offer their services for free, however anticipate spending at least $600 for a doula in the Charlotte, NC area. When you think of the expense of a doula, consider that you’re paying not only for the prenantal, postnatal, and labor visit (which can last for many hours), but you’re also paying for your doula to be on-call and ready to drop everything when you go into labor. Most doulas require a retainer fee of $200-300 prior to the birth with the balance to be paid a few weeks before the expected due date.
Does Confident Childbirth MethodSM of Charlotte provide Doulas support?
The Confident Childbirth MethodSM is focused exclusively on childbirth education and offering classes to prepare couples for natural birth. You can contact your CCMethod instructor directly to see if she offers doula services in addition to her role as an educator, or if she can offer you names of local doulas to contact.