Whether you’re preparing to have a baby, are already pregnant, or have a new little one in the house, having a doula can be beneficial. The American Pregnancy Association and Evidence Based Birth both state the following benefits for having a birth doula during labor:
- 50% decrease in Cesarean rate
- 40% decrease in the use of Pitocin
- 25% shorter labors
- 60% fewer epidurals requested
- 40% reduction in the use of forceps
- 30% less request for pain relief
Those are the statistics on having a birth doula. However, there are many other types of doulas. First let’s look at what the word doula means. The Greek translation for doula is : a woman who serves. A birth doula would be a woman who serves another woman during pregnancy and labor and delivery. A post-partum doula offers care during the period immediately following childbirth. They assist with teaching the new parents essential skills, such as : swaddling, bathing, breastfeeding , changing diapers, and more. Some post-partum doulas assist with light housework, like taking out the trash, straightening up, and washing dishes. Many post-partum doulas offer over night care, so the new parents can rest in between feedings. This offers a sense of safety and reliability, while the new parents get some well deserved sleep. There are many other types of doulas: bereavement, antepartum, full spectrum, adoption, and more. Most doulas support all types of births: natural, medicated, epidural, cesarean, induction. Each have their own definition of “natural.” So, it is always good to ask what they think a “natural” birth looks like, if that is what you are choosing.
Some people are deterred from hiring a doula due to the price. And while many doulas offer discounts for different things, for instance: military, racial diversity, first time parents, and first time doulas, most doulas charge a flat fee which covers things like: preparing a birth plan, offering unlimited text, email, and phone support, providing education, helping the client learn to self-advocate, and of course, physical support during labor. All in all, a good doula is worth her weight in gold.
Some doulas offer other services in addition to their doula service, like: aromatherapy, photography, prenatal yoga, lactation education, prenatal massage, placentophagy (placenta encapsulation), correct car seat instruction, and more.
Whether you decide to hire a doula or not is definitely a personal choice to made with your partner. However, with the benefits increasing, and with doulas becoming more recognized, it is essential to hire one as soon as you decide you want this type of care. There are many ways to find a doula: google “doulas in my area,” or go to : www.doulamatch.net, www.findadoula.com, www.Madriella.org, or simply search on Facebook or ask in your local birth group for doula recommendations. Once you decide to interview potential doulas, there are a few questions that can be beneficial to ask:
- How many births do you take on a month?
- What types of births do you support?
- How many years of experience (or births) do you have?
- Do you have a back up doula, in case of emergency?
- Are you certified? With whom?
- What are your fees?
- What other services do you offer?
- Do you support VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) clients?
This is just a suggested list, but it is a good place to start. Always follow your instincts, and if it sounds too good to be true-it usually is. Regardless of your choice, remember: Your birth, Your baby, Your right to informed consent or refusal. You have a legal right to say “no” to procedures you do not want done. Enjoy this process; from conception to your arms, a doula can offer many different types of support for you, your partner, and your baby.