- What is a doula?
- What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
- Why hire a doula?
- Are doulas only for women interested in natural/unmedicated birth?
- Where do you attend births?
- Can I get insurance reimbursement for your services?
- Why do I need a childbirth education class? Can't I just read some books?
- My hospital offers a birthing class. Wouldn't it make sense to take that one since that's where I'll be delivering?
You can learn about my full spectrum of services here. If you're looking for a doula for your upcoming birth, please learn more about my doula services and contact me to schedule a free consultation. If you're loooking for a childbirth class, please see my Education & Workshops page. I am Lamaze-trained and offer both group and private instruction. I am also available for babywearing consultations and faciliate other pregnancy-related workshops periodically. If you're looking for family, maternity, birth, or newborn photography, I partner with April Love Photography to offer these services to my clients. you can learn more here.
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Women used to be surrounded by other women as they labored and gave birth. We were passed wisdom from our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and friends who had given birth before us. Unfortunately, we have lost a lot of this community and this knowledge today, for a variety of reasons, and the doula profession has grown to help fill in these gaps.
A professional doula brings this personal, first-hand knowledge and experience back within women's reach. The doula spends time getting to know her clients during the prenatal period, learning about their hopes for the birth, developing a comfort and comaraderie that will carry into the delivery room, and helps to answer questions and provide resources along their journey. When labor commences, she joins her clients and provides physical and emotional support to the family through to the delivery of their new baby. Once the baby is born, the doula stays with her clients for a short period after, helping to establish breastfeeding, if desired, and making sure everyone is well before she leaves them to enjoy their honeymoon period together. In the weeks after the birth, the doula remains available to offer emotional support, answer questions, and/or find needed resources. The professional relationship is eventually wrapped up with an in-person postpartum visit within the first month after birth, though friendships often continue.
A doula does not interfere in the relationship between a woman and her medical caregiver; nor does she replace a husband, father, partner or other family members or friends in the delivery room. A doula’s role is to support the laboring mother throughout her pregnancy, labor, and birth — working with the rest of her support team — and to help empower women to make informed personal decisions about their care.
A midwife is a clinical caregiver, trained to care for healthy women with normal, healthy pregnancies. They are often trained as advance practice nurses (though not always). Typically, a pregnant woman will choose to work with either a midwife or an obstetrician for the duration of her pregnancy and birth.
A doula, on the other hand, is not a clinical practitioner. Women hire doulas in addition to their midwives or OBs, not in place of. We do not carry out clinical tasks, monitor fetal heart tones, perform vaginal exams, etc., but instead provide emotional, physical, and educational support to our clients from the prenatal period, through the birth of the baby, and for a short postpartum period afterward.
A doula “mothers the mother” and helps provide continuous, individualized support based on her personal circumstances and preferences.
Often, due to the current structure of our hospital culture, your doula is the only professional who stays with you from start to finish on your birthing day. In contrast, you may have 2-3 different nurses caring for you over the duration of your labor and each of your nurses is likely to be kept very busy and may have multiple patients to care for. Your doctor or midwife will be in touch with hospital staff throughout the duration of your labor, but is unlikely to spend significant periods of time with you until you're on the verge of giving birth. In contrast, your doula will often meet you at your home, travel with you to the hospital, and then stay by your side until your baby is born. Having a doula as extra support is good for your partner as well. A doula's presence allows him/her to step away and get a needed break without worrying about abandoning you in a time of need. Doulas also offer a warm, knowledgable presence and reassurance in times of stress or uncertainty.
If you are not birthing in a hospital, a doula is still essential. If birthing at home with a midwife, you are likely to have the kind of continuous one-on-one care from your caregiver that hospitals are often unable to offer, but you're also missing the extra staff members that hospitals provide. In a homebirth setting, the doula is often the first professional member of the birth team to arrive. She can help you manage your labor and help you decide when is the appropriate time to ask the rest of the birth team to come. During the birth itself, the doula plays the same role she does in the hospital -- supporting mom in whatever way she needs in those moments -- and in the immediate postpartum period, can offer the same breastfeeding support and lead the clean-up efforts.
Whatever you desire for your birth experience, a doula is a wise addition to your team.
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth
- tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications;
- reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience;
- reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans; and
- reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals.
Research shows parents who receive support can:
- feel more secure and cared for;
- are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics;
- have greater success with breastfeeding;
- have greater self-confidence;
- have less postpartum depression; and
- have lower incidence of abuse.
[Statistics from DONA.org]
No. Doulas can provide valuable support to all laboring women, regardless of their choice to use/not use pain medication or accept other interventions. A doula’s job is to support women through their births and help them have positive, healthy, and empowering experiences. This means different things to different women and doulas do not place personal judgement on their clients, nor advocate for care options based on personal opinion. As your doula, I can help you sort through all of the information out there and make the decisions that are right for you.
Possibly. You will have to contact your insurance provider to find out for sure. If not, you may be able to get reimbursement through a flexible spending account, though this depends on your particular plan. Contact your account administrator for more information. I have a National Provider Identifier (NPI) number and am happy to provide an invoice, receipt, or other documentation, if needed.
11 hours a week. A fully comprehsive childbirth education series is typically 12-24 hours in length, spread over 4 to 12 weeks.
You are worth it. Your baby is worth it.
You could read some birth books (and you should!), but in-person discussion with a teacher and other expectant couples just like you is invaluable. You can ask questions, hear what others are considering and why, and get a head start on making new parent friends. Whether you opt for a weekend intensive or a traditionally-structured weekly class depends on several factors, most notably your schedule and timeline. Weekend intensives are a great way to get a lot of information in a short period of time and may be your best option if you have a difficult or unpredictable schedule or are very close to your due date. On the downside, they can sometimes be overwhelming. On the other hand, a more traditional class gives you the opportunity to take a weekly pause and focus on the new life you're growing -- not to mention digest some of the new things you've learned between meetings. Whichever schedule you choose, you'll get hands on practice with comfort measures and coping techniques with an experienced doula and educator as your guide, which is something no book can provide. Also, childbirth classes are a lot of fun. Or, at least mine are :)
I recommend an independent, comprehensive childbirth class to all expecting parents -- and not just because I teach them! Hospital-sponsored classes can be useful for learning more about a hospital's policies and standard operating procedures, but in a stand-alone class, you can rest assured you are getting unbiased information about the full spectrum of options from an independent source. An experienced educator will have that hospital-specific information you crave as well and if I have not yet worked in the hospital you are planning to birth in, I have an extensive network of fellow birth professionals I can reach out to on your behalf.
Your birthing day is a very significant day for your family and you want to go into it fully informed about your options. After all, if you don't know your options, you don't have any.
Email me at email@example.com. I will do my best to get back to you within 1-2 business days. Thanks!