If you are pregnant, and are hoping for a natural, unmedicated labor and birth, you’ve probably already started the search for ways to cope in labor. If you have, you may have stumbled across the term “doula”, but may be wondering what they are, and if you should have one for your birth. We’re here to answer common questions, and help you decide if a doula would be a good fit for you!
What is a doula? Doulas are non-medical birth assistants. Their job is to provide direct physical and emotional support to people during their labor and birth, and often the first few weeks postpartum as well. They help guide you through your labor, providing coping techniques such as position changes, massage, hip and back counterpressure, visualization exercises, encouraging use of the tub/shower, and other comfort measures. They can also answer questions and facilitate communication with your birth team. They also are there to help your other support people, like your partner or family, by providing suggestions on what they can do to help and giving them breaks when needed. After you have your baby, they often help for the first few weeks postpartum by checking in, helping with light housework, providing support with breastfeeding, and providing basic education on newborn care. Some also provide services such as placenta encapsulation and photography.
How would having a doula impact my labor and birth? Multiple studies have shown that having a trained continuous support person (i.e a doula) present at your birth decreases rates of cesarean delivery, epidural and other pain medication use, and instrumented assisted deliveries, as well as increases rates of breastfeeding. Women in these studies also had shorter labors and were more satisfied with their overall birth experience. Doulas can also be present with you while you are at home as well as in the hospital, so they can support you during your early labor before you go to the hospital.
When should I get a doula? It is a good idea to have an established relationship with a doula a few weeks before your due date. Usually, people set up a meeting with a prospective doula to discuss what they are hoping for with their labor and birth, what services the doula offers, and cost. Sometimes people meet with their doula multiple times before their labor.
How are doulas trained? Most doulas receive their initial training through a course, where they take a class, shadow childbirth education and breastfeeding classes, and are assigned reading material that covers labor, birth, and postpartum care. They then have to attend a certain amount of births while they are training and are evaluated by birth providers before they become certified.
How much does a doula cost? The cost for a doula varies, and can depend on many factors such as the doula’s experience level, the services they offer, and whether the doula works in a small or large practice. They are generally not covered by insurance, so their cost is out of pocket. Some will have the option of sliding scale fees. Generally, the cost ranges from $500 - $2,500. However, doulas in training will often cost significantly less, and some will not charge for services.
But I have a midwife or OB/GYN already, why do I need a doula? A doula’s job is to be your labor support, and they are ONLY with you. Other providers will be with you as much as they can, but their job is also to make sure you and your baby are healthy, and that your labor and birth are normal. They also may have more than one patient at a time, so they cannot be with you 100% of the time. Doulas provide that continuous support, and will be with you as much as you need them. However, they do not replace your medical team, and are not considered medical professionals.
How do I find a doula? Here are some resources for finding a doula in Arizona. We also have doulas in the community that we love and recommend – be sure to ask about them at your next appointment!
Doulas we love:
o Phone: (602) 505 – 8559
o Email: email@example.com
o Phone: (612) 743 – 2355
o Email: Melissa.firstname.lastname@example.org
o (480) 353-1679
o Email: Sherri.email@example.com
o (480) 307-1178
o Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
o Phone: (720) 409-8977