A. A doula is trained and experienced in childbirth; she will support you emotionally with encouragement and validation. The doula will also suggest position changes for physical comfort, guide you in relaxation & visualization during contractions. She will also reassure and support the mother's partner during labor and help them understand the process.
advice during pregnancy
availability 24/7 before and during labor to answer any questions or concerns
exercise and physical suggestions to make pregnancy more comfortable
assistance in finding information in order to help the woman make an informed decision about her birth
an objective viewpoint
explanations of medical procedures
help with preparation of a birth plan and the carrying out of that plan
facilitation of communication between the laboring woman, her partner, and her care providers
continuous physical and emotional support throughout the entire labor and birth
an understanding of the physiology of birth
massage and other non-pharmacological pain relief measures
suggestions on position changes during labor and birth
support for the woman’s partner so that he or she can love and encourage the laboring woman
helping the woman avoid unnecessary interventions
help with the initial breastfeeding experience
recognition of birth as a key life experience that the mother will remember forever
A. Doulas are not only professional birth coaches, they are a great resource throughout your pregnancy and post partum. A doula is an investment not only in your pregnancy and birth it is also an investment in motherhood. Scientific studies have proven the support of a doula can reduce the duration of labor, reduces the need for medical interventions, reduction in the need for medication, and reduction in c-sections. It is also proven that mothers who have the support of a doula have greater success at breastfeeding immediately after childbirth as well as a closer bond with their infants.
Stephanie Soderblom, a doula for about 11 years in Arizona, encourages parents to put the cost of the doula in perspective. "I would ask them how much they spent on their wedding, or their vacation last year. How much did they spend on eating out last month? I would say that the birth of your child shouldn't be the time to get frugal and cut corners."
The doula helps the father/woman’s partner feel comfortable and confident by making sure his needs are met (food, drink, reassurance, etc.). The doula encourages the father to participate at his own comfort level. She also shows him what he can do to help. This makes it so the woman and her partner can work more closely together. Some partners prefer to be there only to witness the birth of their child and to share this experience with the woman they love. They may not want to play an active role and do not want to be responsible for the woman's comfort and emotional security. The doula can fill in and allow the partner to participate as he wishes, without leaving the woman's needs unmet. When the partner chooses to be the major source of emotional support, the doula can supplement his or her efforts by running errands, making suggestions for comfort measures, and offering words of reassurance and comfort. During a long, tiring labor, she can give the partner a break for a brief rest or change of scene. While the doula probably knows more than the partner about birth, hospitals, and maternity care, the partner knows more about the woman's personality, likes and dislikes, and needs. Moreover, he loves the woman more than anyone else there. The combined contributions of both partner and doula, along with a competent, considerate, and caring staff give the woman the best chance of an optimal outcome.
The role of the doula here is to give information to the woman and/or couple to help them make the most informed decision on their choices. A doula should always respect the choice of birth the woman has chosen. If planning a medicated birth, the doula is an asset to the birthing team by helping the woman labor comfortably until the medication can be given and helping avoid unnecessary interventions. The doula is also an asset if medication is not an option or is not working effectively.
Labor and Delivery nurses are usually providing care and treatment for many patients at a time. This limits the time spent with each individual patient. The nurse’s main responsibility is to monitor the progress and medical condition of the laboring woman (and her baby) and give that information to the care provider. Nurses also work on shifts, so if your labor spans across a shift change you will get a new nurse and will need to re-establish a working relationship with her. A doula will provide you with continuous support throughout your entire labor and help for some time after the birth as you and your partner are adjusting to this miracle called “birth”.
Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of doulas at this time. You may be able to pay for doula services out of your medical savings account, flexible spending account, or cafeteria plan. Many clients use the option of "lay-a-way". If you know you want to hire a doula during early pregnancy, this is the perfect option. Be sure to discuss the terms with your doula. If finances are an issue for you should ask the doula if she offers payment plans.