What is a doula?
Simply put, a doula is a woman hired to provide guidance and support to a pregnant woman during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
If you’re naive like I was my first pregnancy then you’re probably thinking that’s a little silly.
A waste of money? A rich family luxury?
You couldn’t be more wrong.
In today’s post we’ll not only answer the questions: What is a doula?
We’ll go in depth about everything you need to know about them:
- What is a doula?
- What does a doula do during pregnancy?
- What does a doula do during labor?
- What does a doula do after birth?
- How much does a doula cost?
- How can I find a good doula?
- What are the benefits of having a doula?
I’ll also share my birth experience and how a doula could have made it so much better.
I’m going to beg you to hire a doula because I wish more than anything that I had one for my pregnancy.
I don’t want you to have that same regret.
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What is a doula?
We know now that a doula is a woman who offers support during pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
But what does that mean?
What exactly does a doula do?
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What does a doula do during pregnancy?
Doulas can offer information and resources during your pregnancy.
Doulas are very knowledgeable on all things pregnancy.
Most make themselves available through email or phone call if you have any questions or concerns throughout your pregnancy.
They can recommend books and birth classes.
Some may even offer accompanying you to prenatal appointments.
It’s nice to have someone with you who knows all the right questions to ask.
Doulas can help you create a birth plan.
During your pregnancy you will meet with your doula and she can help you create your birth plan.
Your doula will provide you with up to date information that will allow you to make the best decisions for you for your birth.
With their wealth of knowledge a doula may help you add things in your birth plan that you may not have thought of like:
What atmosphere you’d like?
What are your labor options and preferences?
If you’d like to be offered pain relief options?
Would you like to watch with a mirror?
I spent a lot of time trying to put a birth plan together by myself. A lot of time wasted worrying and looking for answers on google when I should have put my birth plan together with a knowledgeable professional who would leave me feeling confident that nothing was left out.
Giving birth, especially for the first time is scary. A doula helps get you prepared so you can go into your birth with confidence.
Doulas can help you decide when to go to the hospital.
Your doula can come to your home and help you time your contractions.
They’ll know when it’s time for you to drive to the hospital.
When my contractions started they were 2 minutes apart. I thought I must have been timing them wrong because I had read that contractions usually start out at 15 to 20 minutes apart.
I remember feeling so nervous, confused, and unsure.
If I had a doula with me she could have calmed me by letting me know that this does happen. That my contractions were really two minutes apart and we should go to the hospital.
If I had a doula I wouldn’t have been so terrified during the car ride thinking that I was going to have my baby in the car when in reality I was still hours away from giving birth.
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What does a doula do during labor?
Childbirth is hard. Childbirth is exhausting.
Unless you’ve ever given birth before you don’t know how important it is to have someone give you constant emotional support and encouragement during that time.
The nurses do their best to encourage you too but their priority is maintaining the health and safety of you and your baby.
A doulas priority is YOU.
They’ll remind you that what you’re going through is normal.
That you’re making progress.
That you can do it!
A doula will do everything they can to make you feel calm, safe, and empowered.
Help You Physically
Your doulas role is to help you have a positive birth experience and this includes helping you physically in many ways.
A doula can help with:
- Relaxation techniques
- Breathing techniques
- Labor positioning
- Walking with you
- Making sure you eat and drink enough
My biggest regret not having a doula for my birth was missing out on all their tricks.
For sure I wasn’t relaxed and didn’t know how to relax. I was scared.
I didn’t know how to breathe or how important and beneficial the correct breathing technique was.
And let’s not even talk about my absolutely counterproductive almost lying down flat and sideways laboring position.
A doula could have helped with all of that.
Doulas have a bag of tricks to help you have a better birth experience. Don’t miss out.
Help Your Partner Help You
Your doula is in no way there to replace your partner.
Your doula can actually help dad and encourage him with ways to participate so long as he is comfortable.
A doula can provide dad with a much needed break so he can use the bathroom or even take a nap if it’s a long labor.
Your doula doesn’t only provide you with reassurance during labor, she can reassure him too by answering any questions he may have.
If Things Don’t Go As Planned
Childbirth can be unpredictable.
Your doula is their to support you and be your advocate if things don’t go as planned.
If you change your mind and want other pain relief options than what was in your birth plan, or if you end up needing a cesarean.
Your doula will be there to keep you calm, decode “doctor talk” for you, and help be your voice.
We had a scare with Alexa right after she came out. They put her on my chest and I heard a nurse say “pulse?” another says “barely” and then they took her across the room and put a mask over her face.
We were absolutely terrified for our little girl. It took a whole minute before someone said “It’s okay she’s going to be okay. This is normal”.
Apparently after pushing for over three hours like I had, it was normal for baby to come out with a low pulse.
That full minute our baby was across the room with a mask over her face was the worst minute of my life. Looking back I’d like to think if I had a doula she would have let me know sooner that this was normal and everything was okay.
That would have meant the world to me in that moment.
That’s an example of what I was referring to earlier. The doctors and nurses are supportive, but their number one priority is the safety of you and the baby.
This means that for them, your emotions take a back seat.
In that moment that’s where a doula comes in to provide the guidance and support you need.
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What does a doula do after birth?
A doula is there with you throughout your labor and they can still be there to support you after your baby has arrived.
At The Hospital
After birth your doula can help and guide you in caring for your baby, including help with:
- Breastfeeding latch and holds
- Overnight care
All of these services can be extremely helpful for new moms, especially if they haven’t cared for babies before.
But even for seasoned moms, having an extra set of hands can be a godsend.
I’m begging you to hire a doula because still to this day I think back to that first night in the hospital and I cry.
I had been awake for over 36 hours. Sitting up and down was excruciatingly painful because of a postpartum complication I was having.
Alexa would not sleep in the bassinet. I needed help and I didn’t have it. I needed a postpartum doula.
I pray that you’re never that tired, in that much pain, doing everything all on your own.
What A Postpartum Doula Can Help With At Home
As if everything I have told you about doulas so far isn’t enough, there’s more!
A postpartum doula can offer home visits where they can give mom a break by:
- watching baby while she naps
- switching over the laundry
- putting the dishes away
- entertaining siblings
- help with cooking
- tidy up the house
Honestly these women are goddesses and I think everyone needs one.
Aside from having an extra set of hands at home, postpartum doulas are also trained to pick up on the state of your mental health.
If they think you may be having a hard time adjusting to a new baby mentally they can point you in the right direction to get help.
After Alexa was born I struggled coping with postpartum anxiety. I suffered to make it through each day.
A postpartum doula would have pick up on how I was feeling mentally and would have explained to me what postpartum anxiety was and how I could get help.
What are the benefits of having a doula?
Studies have been done that show many benefits to having a doula, including:
- Reduced need for clinical procedures during birth
- fewer birth complications
- more satisfying labor, birth, and postpartum
- better Apgar scores
- increased success with breastfeeding
- shorter lengths of labors
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How much does a doula cost?
Doulas cost varies widely by region and what services you would like from them.
A prenatal visit, labor and delivery, and post delivery follow up are usually priced at a flat rate fee ranging from $800 – $2500.
While others may charge you by the hour.
Unfortunately most insurance companies do not cover doula services, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
As more studies are done proving the health benefits associated with having a doula we’re hoping insurance coverage will become more common.
How do I find a good doula?
When you hire a doula you are inviting them to one of the most personal experiences of you life.
You need to feel comfortable with your doula and she needs to be someone that you trust.
You can ask your doctor and your friends for recommendations or do a search online to find a doula service near you.
But to find the best doula for you I recommend asking these questions at your interview:
- What kind of training do you have?
- Are you certified?
- How would you describe your doula style?
- Why did you become a doula?
- Please give an example of how you’ve supported a woman in labor?
- How many births have you attended?
- What services do you offer?
- What are your fees?
- Have you attended any births at my birth location?
- Do you currently have clients with due dates near mine?
- Do you have a back up doula and can I meet her?
- How often is your back up doula used?
- Do you have experience with birth complications?
- Do you have references I can speak with?
What is a doula?
So yea, a doula is just a woman hired to provide guidance and support to a pregnant woman during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.
And a lot of the time women don’t think they need a doula because they don’t understand just how important that support and guidance is.
I was that woman. That woman that thought she didn’t need a doula, but I was so wrong.
I will have a doula for my next birth and I hope you consider to, no that’s right I’m begging you to, hire a doula for yours.
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