What is a Doula? How much does a Doula cost and why are they important?
Pregnancy, labour, childbirth, and new motherhood are both very exciting and very trying times in a woman’s life. The physical and emotional demands during this period of your life can be very overwhelming at times. It’s important to not only care for yourself during this time and try to prepare for yourself for everything to come, but it’s also crucial to surround yourself with support. A typical support team would usually include your pregnancy health care provider, your partner, your family and quite possibly even some close friends. Another important support team member that you should consider is a doula.
What is a Doula?
A doula is someone that is trained in the childbirth field and helps to guide and support a woman throughout her pregnancy, during labour and birth, and even during her postnatal period. Doulas, more often than not, are mothers themselves giving them added experience and empathy. They don’t just provide support for the mum, but for the entire family as well. Doulas attend births at home, in birth centres and at hospitals. Typically, if you hire a doula, they will meet with you multiple times throughout your pregnancy to get to know you and your preferences as well as help you prepare for labour and beyond. Doulas strive to help make your experience as normal and complication free as possible. Your doula will be with you throughout your entire labour and birth and for a short time after your baby is born. She will also continue to meet with you during your postnatal period.
What Does a Doula Do?
Doulas provide a wide range of support services. Each doula will have a different set of specific things that she offers to her clients so keep that in mind when searching for a doula.
Something that most doulas offer is support throughout your pregnancy. They can help you by giving you tips on how to cope with common pregnancy discomforts as well as help you to recognize what is normal in pregnancy and what is not. They will also be able to help advise you on a healthy pregnancy diet and exercise during your pregnancy. They can even show you techniques and give you tips on how to ensure optimal fetal positioning.
Labour and Birth Education
Most doulas also offer some education about labour and birth during your pregnancy. They can teach you about the process of labour to help you better understand what will be happening to your body as well as the different things you can expect during labour and birth. They can answer any questions you have and help to ease your fears.
Another common service that doulas offer is birth planning. Your doula will sit down with you and discuss your different childbirth options. They will help you to make educated decisions and create a carefully laid out plan for your birth. Your doula can help you to put your desires for birth into writing and create an actual birth plan document to give to your pregnancy health care provider and anyone else that will be involved with your birth. Your birth plan can include big things like what type of pain medication, if any, that you want to use as well as smaller things like if you want music playing during labour and if so, what type of music should be playing.
Teaching Others to Support You
Another great role that a doula can play is teaching the rest of your support team, especially your partner, how to best support you during pregnancy, labour, birth, and the postnatal period. They will give your support team tips and advice on the best things they can do to help you as well as teach them how to properly advocate for you.
Supporting You Through Labour and Birth
The most well-known role of a doula is as a labour support person. They will stay by your side for the full duration of labour. They can be there to help you remember any labour management techniques you have learned, talk you through everything, and to ensure your environment is how you want it to be. This would include dimming the lights if you wish, asking for extra pillows, playing music if you prefer it, etc.
Helping with Pain Management
Your doula can help you to manage your labour pains. They can help you to practice breathing techniques for labour, massage you and apply pressure as needed, as well as suggest the best positions to try for helping labour move along as well as reducing your pain level.
Help You Advocate for Yourself
A doula will also help you to stand up for what you want during labour and birth. They will teach you to effectively communicate with your care providers about what your preferences are. They will also remind you what you want when labour is intense and things may become blurry. Obviously, sometimes things don’t go according to plan and we have to make important decisions during labour. If this is the case, your doula will help you to fully understand your choices and make a logical and informed decision.
Some doulas even offer birth photography and/or videography. They can take photos or even a video during labour and birth to help you remember this important experience in your life. They can also capture your little one’s first moments of life and your first moments together as a family.
Doulas can also support you beyond your birth. They can help you learn to navigate life with a newborn. They may be able to provide you with breastfeeding support and advice, and can even assist with learning babywearing techniques and choosing the right baby carrier for you and your bub. Your doula can help you to understand what is normal during this period of time and what may need medical attention such as postnatal depression.
Benefits of Having a Doula
Choosing to hire a doula can be extremely beneficial to you and your baby. It not only adds someone else to your support team that you know will be on your side and be there for you 100%, but studies even show that there are many benefits to having a doula. With having a doula comes a lower chance of a caesarean section, lower chance of forceps/vacuum delivery, lower chance of induction or augmentation, less chance of using pain medication, and less risk of postnatal depression. It’s also shown that women that have doulas have shorter labours, more success breastfeeding, and higher self-esteem in the postnatal period.
Choosing a Doula
When making the decision of who to hire as your doula, it’s a good idea to meet with multiple doulas first. Consider what’s most important to you in finding a doula and ask prospective doulas if they offer whatever that may be. Another reason you should meet with them ahead of time is to make sure that you click. You need to make sure that your personalities work well together and that this is a person that you feel like you can come to trust and rely on. This is a person that is going to be sharing a very intimate part of your life with you so don’t take the decision too lightly.
Cost of a Doula
Each doula sets her own fees. The fees of a doula vary greatly depending on several factors including experience, location, and services offered. Most doulas will offer several package options that vary in price. An established and experienced doula usually charges around $1000 or slightly less for a package that includes antenatal and postnatal appointments. Doulas that have less experience may charge significantly less though. You may be able to find one that has a fee of only a few hundred dollars. Whatever the fee for your doula is, it’s definitely worth the amazing benefits that a doula provides.
Birth with Confidence
The benefits of having a doula on your birth support team are undeniable. It’s wonderful to have someone who is trained and educated in birth support to be with you every step of your journey. With a doula by your side, you’ll be able to more easily trust yourself and be confident in your ability to do the amazing task of bringing life into this world.