© 2015 Gina Crosley-Corcoran, MPH, CD(DONA)
Congratulations on your pregnancy! The birth of your baby is a momentous occasion, one filled with joy, love, and anticipation. During this special time, you may be looking for ways to make your birth experience more comfortable, safe, and satisfying for both you and your baby. Hiring a doula to attend your birth may be one of the most beneficial ways to achieve your healthy birth goals.
What is a Doula?
A doula is a trained, skilled, labor support professional who helps guide mothers through their birth experience by providing emotional, physical, and informational support. The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek term meaning “servant to mother.” A doula does not replace a doctor or midwife, and does not provide any clinical diagnosis or perform any medical procedures. Doulas do, however, possess special skills that make them a valuable addition to your birth team.
How Can a Doula Help My Labor?
As reported by DONA, clinical research shows that the presence of a doula can result in shorter labors with fewer complications. Help from a doula may also reduce the need for medical interventions such as labor augmentation, assisted delivery, and cesarean section. Mothers who used doulas also report more positive feelings about their birth experience and may request less pain medication than mothers who labored without trained labor support.
Will a Doula Replace My Husband or Partner?
Many expecting dads today are excited about being a part of their baby’s birth and may fear that a doula could take their place. On the contrary, doulas help facilitate communication between the couple, and can help partners be more involved in caring for the laboring woman.
How Are Doulas Qualified?
Doulas are trained and certified by international organizations that ensure an appropriate level of training and proper conduct. You can expect a doula to have attended several births and training workshops prior to her certification. She has also passed rigorous examination to test her knowledge of birth and to ensure she has the skills necessary to assist laboring women.
How Much Do They Cost & Where Do I Hire One?
CostHelper.com reports that labor doulas charge anywhere from $250 – $1500 per birth depending on your city’s cost of living, the number of births she has attended, and her level of training. Some doulas may offer births at no charge while they are certifying, and others may volunteer time to help low-income families. Doulas now have insurance provider numbers so mothers can submit the cost to insurance for reimbursement. Finding a doula is easy, especially in urban markets. Doulas are readily available through websites like DoulaMatch.net, Dona.org, and Cappa.net. Your childbirth educator may also direct you to a list of doulas she can recommend.
Now you know what a doula is, how to find one, and why you should hire one for your upcoming birth experience. It may prove to be one of the most important baby-related investments you will make!