FAQ“I couldn’t and wouldn’t practice obstetrics today without doulas. They give me the confidence of knowing the laboring mother is not frightened…and is always in the capable hands of a professional labor assistant. The quality and continuity of care should not be regarded as an “extra”, but as an essential and irreplaceable part of the birthing experience.” Harlan Ellis, MD, in Special Women

What is a doula?

Pronounced doo’lah, the term comes from the ancient Greek used to describe a woman experienced in childbirth that provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during and just after childbirth.

A birth doula:

  • Recognizes childbirth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
  • Assists the mother in preparing for and carrying out her plans for the birth
  • Stays with the mother throughout labor
  • Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions.
  • Facilitates communication between the laboring mother, her partner, and clinical care providers
  • Perceives her role as nurturing and protective of the mother’s memory of the birth experience

(Source: DONA, Doulas of North America)

What can a doula do for me?

Aside from the many medical advantages to having a doula, there are several things a doula will do for you to help you have a positive birth experience. Here are just a few things I, as a doula, can do for you:

  • Give informational support, including books, videos, and pamphlets on pregnancy, exercises to facilitate the best fetal position for your baby, and positions of labor.
  • Assist in developing a birth plan.
  • Provide information on pain management techniques, including all the risks and benefits to certain procedures, and all options available. I will fully support you in your decisions.
  • I will not speak for my clients, but I will inform them and let them know of their options so that they can make informed decisions during labor.
  • Help to maintain the birthing environment by dimming the lights, playing soft music, or keeping family members occupied. I will be there if your partner needs to leave the room. You will never be left alone, unless that is your wish.
  • Provide help with positioning in labor, and physical support, such as a acupressure.
  • Help you with your initial breastfeeding experience.

I am planning to have an epidural, why would I need a doula?

Even though you will have an epidural, the labor is not pain free, and you may need more help than a non-medicated mother during the pushing stage, especially if you cannot feel to push. A doula can also help by doing such things as reminding family to eat, getting extra pillows or ice chips, and especially, continue to be reassuring and informative should complications arise.

I have a scheduled Cesarean birth. Is a doula worth it for me?

“A doula can help you get answers to your questions and formulate a birth plan for a cesarean section. Once inside the operating room, your doula will assist you in knowing what is going on by giving you details of whatever you wish to know… Your doula will be at your side.

One important fact to remember about the cesarean is that the baby is born in the first few minutes. The rest of the nearly hour long procedure is the repair. If your husband is busy with the baby or in the nursery, you would otherwise be alone during this period…

During the postpartum period your doula can suggest post-operative comfort measures. She can assist you with any breastfeeding…Your doula can also help with reminding the staff about your birth plan and special needs you may have.”

(Source: Cesarean: Do I Need A Doula? Robin E. Weiss)

Can I call you for support before my labor? What about after?

I am available via phone and email during your entire pregnancy to answer your questions and offer my support as much as you need it, as well as to loan you videos and books on pregnancy. Starting two weeks prior to your due date, I am available 24 hours a day for you. After the birth, I usually remain with you for 1-2 hours, until you are comfortable and your family is ready for quiet time together. I can also help with initial breastfeeding, if necessary. I am available by phone to answer questions about the birth of your baby, and I am available at a follow-up visit.

What is a birth plan, and how can you assist me with it?

A birth plan is a description of what you would like your ideal birth experience to be. I can help you prepare a birth plan by discussing options and possibilities, and then, assist you in writing a birth plan that will be clear and concise, and easy for the hospital staff or clinical caregivers to understand.

As a husband and father-to-be, I feel that a doula would be taking away from this very personal experience and make me feel left out. Is that true?

A doula does not take the place of the laboring mother’s partner, family or friends. Rather, she can bring the couple closer together by making sure dad’s needs are met, so he can give undivided emotional support to his wife. Actually, according to a recent study, 70% of mothers who had a doula reported feeling more satisfied with their relationship six weeks postpartum. Only 30% of the moms who did not have a doula reported that their relationship had improved after birth. (The Doula Advantage, page 67)

For dads who want to be actively involved in the birth experience, a doula can guide him on how to support his wife.

A doula has accompanied many couples through the birth experience and gained the knowledge needed to help each couple achieve the desired birth experience. She helps the dad to be more involved and more effective. The nurses can not be with you at every moment or may not be at liberty to answer your questions in an unbiased manner. The doula fulfills this role so that parents receive the information they need to make informed decisions. In essence, freeing up the dad to provide uninterrupted emotional support to his partner, and not having to play the role of advocate, liaison, educator etc…as well as provide support. (All About Moms: Doulas)

What happens if I go into labor and you are unavailable?

I will always inform clients of times when I am unavailable for labor support. To cover those times, I wil arrange one or more backup doulas whom you may also meet. Of course, you have as much choice over your backup as your primary doula.

Will you come to my home first, or will you just meet me at the hospital?

I can come to your home first if you would like to labor at home for awhile, or I can meet you at the hospital, it is your choice.

My sister has had several children and is planning on attending my birth. Can’t she just serve as a doula?

Your sister will be a wonderful addition to your birthing experience, and surely, she can assist you in feeling more comfortable during this special time. As a doula, I can help to make family relationships stronger by freeing your sister to be completely emotionally available to you. As a professional doula, having received previous certification through DONA, the oldest and largest international doula organization in North America, you can be sure that:

  • I am committed to maintaining and practicing the highest standards of ethics and practice
  • I have been trained by an organization that focuses specifically on doulas and has trained more doulas than any other organization in the world
  • I maintain a level of professionalism with clinical caregivers

I am a first-time mother and want to breastfeed, but am very nervous and unsure of myself. How can you help me?

I am available directly after birth to support you in your initial breastfeeding experience, and I can give you informational support on where to find a specialist if one is needed.

At which hospitals/birthing centers do you attend birth?

I will attend you at the hospital/birthing center of your choice, but I ask that you let your care provider know in advance that you have hired a doula for your birth.

Do you attend homebirths?

Yes, I enjoy attending homebirths!

How much will it cost to have you attend my birth?

For information on fees and contact information, click here.

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