Because doula support is not the standard here in the U.S., many people do not fully understand their role, or that birth outcomes have been shown to significantly improve just by having a doula present.
Studies show that births attended by the continuous support of a doula tend to result in:
● Shortened labor time ● Fewer complications ● Healthier babies ● Reduced levels of fear, anxiety, and pain ● Enhanced communication with medical team/care providers ● Reduced incidence of assisted deliveries (i.e. vacuum, forceps) ● Reduction of Cesarean rates by up to 50% ● Decreased use of pain medication ● Decreased costs of obstetrical care (less interventions) ● Increased maternal satisfaction with birth experience ● Increased rates of successful breastfeeding ● Reduced incidence of postpartum depression
A common question that we tend to receive is: “If I already have a midwife/husband/sister/parent/friend attending my birth, do I really need a doula?”
It is important to make the distinction between a midwife and a doula; your midwife or OB is in charge of your clinical care, monitoring the mother and baby’s health. They will treat medical issues as they arise, and will assist you as you birth your baby. A doula, however, is there to support you in your non-clinical care such as education, emotional support, communication with your birthing team, physical comfort measures, as well as providing assistance to your birthing team.
Doulas can be of great assistance to your primary care provider, as their job is to complement the care that is being given. While your OB or 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. People often forget that a doula is someone who will provide CONTINUOUS support during your entire labor and delivery they are dedicated to YOU and ensuring that your needs are met.
Your doula can provide assistance in any way that you desire during your birth whether that is massaging your back, ensuring that you are drinking plenty of water, helping you to find a comfortable position for labor, answering your questions, or even bringing you or your partner something to eat. Couples often tend to forget that dads need support too!! Your doula will ensure that your partner’s needs are met so that they can focus their full attention on you.
If I have a doula, do I still need to take a childbirth class?
Definitely!! A doula does NOT replace comprehensive childbirth education, but can help to steer you in the direction that will best suit your needs. Your doula can find the right educational program that best fits the personal philosophy of you and your partner, refer you to outside resources, and help you to find local support groups as well. We find it important for you to be fully informed of all of your options and that you understand the basic process of labor and delivery.
Why does doula service cost so much?
Doulas invest a lot of time, energy, and money in training and certification – and also gain experience by attending multiple births. Your doula also has to ensure that she can be available on-call 24/7 for the last several weeks of your pregnancy, which means that there is a limit to the number of clients that they can take on at once. As you know, 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. Last-minute childcare must be provided for those of us with young families, often a spouse’s plans need to change, vacation time is limited, and special occasions may need to be put aside. 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. Most doulas do not charge extra for weekends, holidays, overnight, or extra hours worked during a long 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, gas money (doulas do a LOT of traveling to/from client's homes and birthplaces!), babysitter fees, and more.
I’m not sure that I can afford a doula. What other options do I have?
A great way to help pay for your doula fees is to request doula services as part of your baby shower wish list!! Gift Certificates make a great baby shower gift, and can be purchased in any denomination. Many women end up receiving a lot of gifts that they don’t really need – how wonderful would it be to receive the gift of education and birth support!! Gift certificates may be applied toward any service or any package that you choose.
You can also use these printable inserts with your baby shower invitations, to let your friends and family know!