Birth Doula Support
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
A: A midwife is a medical professional, who provides for the clinical care and monitoring of birthing person and baby’s health. The midwife will treat any issues as they arise, and is the one who "catches" the baby – either at home, in a birth center, or in a hospital. If serious medical issues do arise, the midwife will transfer care to a doctor, although they will typically continue to provide support to the mother and baby.
Doulas provide non-clinical care. They are there to provide comfort and emotional support, and to help the birthing person and their partner communicate with the rest of the birthing team.
Q: If I already have a midwife, do I really need a doula as well?
A: Your midwife is there to provide clinical care during the later stages of labor, and to help “deliver” the baby – and your doula’s job is to help complement the care that you are receiving from your midwife. While your midwife is monitoring the baby’s movements and tracking your physical signs, your doula will be providing emotional support and ensuring that you are as comfortable as possible.
Your doula will also ensure that your partner’s needs are met – from helping you get everything to your birthplace, to making sure that they are relaxed and their questions are answered, we are making sure that they feel like they are in a position to best support you. For instance, if you are in need of constant back massage during painful back labor – your doula and your partner can take turns rubbing your back, so that the other has a chance to eat or use the restroom if needed. If you and your partner feel that you need some private time during labor, we can still be just a room or a phone call away.
Q: If I already have a doula, do I still need to take childbirth classes?
A: Definitely!! A doula does NOT replace childbirth education, but can help you to build on the foundation of the education that you receive in your childbirth classes. Be sure to find a well-rounded class that follows the philosophy of birth that you and your partner share. It is important that you are fully informed of all of your options and that you understand the basic process of labor and delivery. Learn more about my courses HERE!
Q: When should I hire a doula?
A: It is never too early or too late to hire a doula!! Ideally you should find a doula sometime before the third trimester, so that you have time to schedule any prenatal visits and get any additional education, resources, and support that you may need. You might also take into account that most doulas have a limit as to how many clients they are able to take every month, so you want to make sure that you are able to make a deposit as soon as possible so that you can ensure your spot on their calendar.
Q: Do doulas only attend natural births?
A: Although most doulas feel that most anyone who is low-risk can absolutely give birth with minimal intervention, it is our job to supply you with the knowledge that you need to make informed choices about your birth. If you or your care provider feel that certain interventions are necessary – I am here to support you in your decision, with no judgement. My job is to help you to attain the birth that you desire, and that means something different to each and every person.
Q: Do doulas attend planned cesarean births?
A: Absolutely! Even if you require a cesarean birth, a doula can still be valuable. Whether you or your partner require extra assistance, a doula can be there with you to provide support along the way, and to calm many of the fears that you might have. Doulas can also help with breastfeeding after the birth, provide extra assistance during your recovery, or extra postpartum support as you return home.
Q: I am afraid that the hospital staff will not follow my birth plan. Are you able to step in and make the changes that I want?
A: Doulas are not healthcare providers, and we are unable to make medical decisions for you. When giving birth in a hospital, there are many routine procedures that you should be prepared for ahead of time. This is why it is important to make your desires and intentions clear with your primary care provider from the very beginning; and try to write important points down just in case you have a different provider attending at your birth. (Having signed, hard copies of your birth plan with you can be great help.) But your doula will be there to remind hospital staff of your wishes, and to help you to advocate for yourself if changes need to be made.
If you know in advance that your doctor is more inclined to perform certain routines that you don’t want, or doesn't support your birth vision, you are ALWAYS able to change care providers to one who is more supportive of your birth plan. Although a doula can’t tell your care provider what to do, I can encourage you to ask questions and find out why certain interventions are suggested.
Informed consent is important!! Tension has no place in birth, and I will do my best to ease any tensions between you and your care provider.
Q: I want to stay at home for as long as possible before transferring to my birthplace. Will you come to my home to provide support?
A: Yes!! I will support you at home until you decide that it is time to move to your birthplace. Actually, many hospitals will turn mothers away if they do not feel that they are in active labor. Although doulas do not provide vaginal exams to determine labor progress, I will look for the physical and emotional signposts to determine when you have transitioned from early to active labor. In the rare case that your labor begins to progress too quickly to move to your birthplace, for the safety of mother and baby, I will call 911 to ensure that you receive proper care as quickly as possible.
Q: Why does doula service cost so much?
A: Doulas invest a lot of time, energy, and money in training – and gain experience through apprenticeships and supervising many births. Doulas also have to ensure that they can be available on-call 24/7 for the final weeks of your pregnancy, so there is a limit to the number of clients that they can take on at once, as births can be unpredictable and we really don’t know exactly when you are going to give birth.
This means that anywhere from weeks 37 to 42 of your pregnancy, we must be ready for your phone call at any time. Last-minute childcare must be provided, often a partner's plans need to change, vacation time is limited, and special occasions may need to be put aside at a moment's notice. It isn’t always easy to drop what you are doing to get to a birth – and often doulas must do their best while sleep-deprived. Some births can be VERY long. Doulas do not charge extra for weekends, holidays, overnight, or extra hours worked during a birth.
Extra training is also required in order to provide additional services, such as postpartum support, sleep support, childbirth education, belly binding, and more. I prioritize maintaining current certifications, and furthering my education – because I believe it is important to provide you with the absolute best support possible!
There are also many hidden expenses, such as general liability insurance, booking/accounting software, website fees, marketing expenses, certification fees, continuing education, gas money (doulas do a LOT of traveling to/from client's homes and birthplaces!), babysitter fees, and more.
Q: Are Doulas covered by my insurance?
A: Even though doulas are known to greatly reduce the need for medical interventions during birth, we are NOT covered by most insurance companies. However, you may be able to submit a copy of your paid invoice to get reimbursed for a portion of your doula fees, or have the cost applied to your deductible.
See more at: Insurance Reimbursement
Do you have a Health Savings account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
Birth Doula fees and Childbirth Classes are eligible for direct payment or reimbursement with your FSA or HSA. You can pay with your card directly via Paypal, or you may request a check from your HSA/FSA website for the amount.
Q: What if you are unavailable when I go into labor?
A: In the extremely rare occasion that I am not available when you go into labor, we will have pre-arranged for backup care with another local doula.
Q: If I hire a doula to have a natural birth and it ends up being the complete opposite, do I still have to pay?
A: I understand that ending up with a birth experience you did not expect or plan for can be disappointing. But it is important to know that I cannot control your birth; things often do not go exactly as planned, which is why it is very important to educate yourself on your options during pregnancy. I can help to advocate your wishes and support you in whatever arises, but unfortunately, I cannot guarantee a particular outcome. So no, I would not refund your payment, but I will help you as best we can to process your experience.
Q: I’m not sure that I can afford the services of a doula. What other options do I have?
A: A great way to help pay for your doula services is to request doula services as part of your baby shower wish list!! Gift Certificates make a great baby shower gift. Many parents end up receiving a lot of gifts that they don’t really need or want – how wonderful would it be to receive the gift of birth support!! You can also print these Invitation Inserts to place in an envelope with your baby shower invitations, so that your guests know that you are "registered" for doula support.