What does a doula do?
A doula is a professional trained and experienced in childbirth who provides continuous emotional, physical and informational support to women before, during, and just after birth. The doula’s role is to help women have a safe, memorable and empowering birthing experience. For more information, please see the description provided by the largest international doula organization (DONA) here.
Why should I have a doula at my birth?
In the old days, women in labor were attended by their mothers, aunts, and sisters – most of whom had already experienced childbirth and all of whom had seen several births. The birthing woman herself had also seen other births and knew what to expect. Nowadays, most first-time moms had never seen a real birth (movies don’t count – we all know that they are nothing like real life). A doula can take on the role that extended family members used to play: provide support to the laboring woman as someone who had already gone through the same experience and who has seen and helped others go through it.
Doulas are a wonderful addition to your birth team! There are so many proven benefits of doula care, including:
- shorter labors with fewer complications
- more positive feelings about one’s childbirth experience
- less need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction and cesareans
- fewer requests by the mother for pain medication and/or epidurals
- greater success with breastfeeding
- greater self-confidence
- less postpartum depression
“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” Dr. John H. Kennell
To see some of the research, please click here.
How about my husband?
A doula doesn’t replace your partner – she is there to guide both of you through the process of labor and birth. A generation ago husbands weren’t even allowed in the delivery room but nowadays they are often expected to take on the role of a “coach” to their wives. Many of them are eager to help, which is wonderful, but more often than not they have never seen a birth and have no idea what to expect, what is normal, or what would be helpful for the laboring woman. This can put a lot of pressure on them! Husbands usually love having doulas at the birth because it takes pressure off them and allows them to be fully present with their wife and enjoy the birth of their child together. It’s no surprise that studies have shown that when a doula is present, women report more positive feelings toward their partner after their baby’s birth.*
Are doulas only useful if I am planning an un-medicated birth?
The American Pregnancy Association states, “The presence of a doula can be beneficial no matter what type of birth you are planning. Many women do report needing fewer interventions when they have a doula, but the role of the doula is to help you have a safe and pleasant birth, not to choose your type of birth. For women who know they want a medicated birth, the doula still provides emotional support, informational support and comfort measures to help the women through labor and the administration of medications. Doulas can work alongside medication by helping mom deal with possible side effects and filling in the gap that medication may not cover; rarely does medication take all discomfort away.
For a mother who faces a cesarean, a doula can be helpful by providing constant support and encouragement. Often a cesarean is an unexpected situation and moms are left feeling unprepared, disappointed and lonely. A doula can be with the mother at all times throughout a cesarean, explaining what is going on throughout the procedure while the partner is able to attend to the baby and accompany the newborn to the nursery if problems arise.”
How much does it cost to have a doula?
In Orange County, certified doulas’ fees range from $600 to $1800. Some doulas who are newly trained and need the experience will often attend births for as little as $300 (or even for free!). Please contact me for my pricing. Because I firmly believe that every woman who wants a doula should have access to one, I offer a sliding scale and will also gladly refer those who can’t afford my services to newly trained doulas in the area.
*See Klaus, Kennel, and Klaus: The Doula Book