Frequently Asked Questions
Here you will find some of the most common questions I am asked.
What does a doula do?
One of your doulas first goals will be to get to know you and your partner. She will meet with you several times with the goal of understanding your birth values, goals, and fears. You will build a trusting and warm relationship with her so that by the time your baby is ready to be born you will know and trust your doula. Upon your request, your doula can clarify information discussed with your doctor or midwife and suggest topics for future discussions with your caregiver. She may help you write a birth plan and will provide you with access to a plethora of education materials. Once labor has begun your doula will remain with you until after the baby is born. She may do any and all of the following: come over whenever you want (0 cm dilated or 10 cm, she will be there), time your contractions, set up the birthing pool (for home births), help you get settled into the hospital or birth center by packing in bags; unpacking things; and supporting you in the car ride there (but not by driving you), help you breathe and concentrate, squeeze your hips and provide other physical support, show your partner the best ways to help you physically, get you as much water and ice chips as you want, bring you and your partner food, comb your hair, rub your back; legs; arms; or whatever else that feels good, talk you through emotional blockages which may come up, keep your environment as desired by turning on music; dimming lights; closing doors; lighting candles; and turning off (or on) the TV, suggest optimal positions to speed up labor or for pain reduction, provide you with pain-coping tools such as a robozo and birth ball, photograph or video whatever you desire, help keep family members busy or comfortable, help you communicate to nurses and staff (while not speaking on your behalf), encourage you during labor and pushing, help you remember your birth goals and values, read to you, let you lean; sit; or lay on her, help you get to the bathroom, push around your IV machine (if you have one), help you get dressed or undressed, hold an emesis bag for you or hold your hair back while you use it, provide a helping hand for things like mirrors, provide affirmations, tidy up your room or home by removing garbage; tossing in laundry; picking up toys; and loading the dishwasher, share in your emotion, celebrate with you, and help you establish breastfeeding. Your doula will do all of these things (and more) without pushing judgment or criticism onto you or your partner.
What is the difference between a nurse or midwife and a doula?
A nurse or midwife is trained to do medical procedures and evaluate the well-being of both mother and child. One of their goals is to help you and your family feel comfortable but they also have responsibilities that a doula does not. Doulas do not give medical advice or care like a nurse or midwife does.
Do I need a doula if I have a midwife?
Absolutely! While midwives and doulas often have similar views on childbirth, their roles are completely different. A midwife is there to ensure the health of your baby and yourself and this is their responsibility. A doula helps the mother in non-clinical ways. Doulas support, encourage, and offer comfort measures to you throughout your labor. Doulas do not spend time on clinical tasks such as cervical checks. Their full attention is devoted to making you and your family as comfortable as possible.
Will we feel comfortable having a stranger at our birth?
Actually a doula is not a stranger; she is someone that has built a warm and trusting relationship with you and your partner prior to labor. Ideally she will know you and your partner and know your birth values, preferences, fears, and concerns. You will be comfortable with her on most levels. In fact, if you are delivering in the hospital it is likely that you won't have met your nurses or even the delivering doctor beforehand, so your doula provides the continuity of care for your birth.
What doesn’t a doula do?
A doula does not provide any type of medical advice or clinical care, check your blood pressure, conduct vaginal exams, or any other medical services. She will not pressure her beliefs onto you, make any decisions for you or your partner, or speak to any staff instead of you or your partner regarding matters where decisions are being made.
Isn’t my partner my doula?
No! Your doula has training and experience above and beyond what your spouse may learn from a prenatal class or from previous births. The role of the doula is never to take the place of husbands or partners in labor, but to compliment and enhance their experience. Dads and doulas work together! Having a doula allows the father to support his partner emotionally during labor and birth and to also enjoy the experience without the added pressure of trying to remember everything he learned in childbirth class.
How does a doula help my partner?
Your doula is there to support both you and your partner. From simply letting your partner take a break to reassuring them that what is happening is normal, your doula takes a lot of pressure off of birth partners. Typically, when partners have a visual on how to support a woman (i.e. watching a doula support her) they feel more confident and relaxed having seen some ideas to try themselves.
Do I need a doula if I'm planning to have an epidural?
A doula's goal is to help you have the best birth experience possible, however you define it. She will not have personal beliefs or opinions of what your labor should or shouldn’t look like! An epidural will numb your feeling but you are still in labor. A doula can support you with an epidural by suggestion positions for augmenting laboring, letting you know when you're having contractions, offering hand massages to provide relaxation, aid in understanding hospital procedures, and can help you get off to a good breastfeeding start.
What if I have a cesarean birth? Do I still need a doula?
If you have a cesarean birth a doula is a great help! Your doula will help you be as informed as possible about the surgery and the post-partum recovery. A doula can help you prepare for a planned cesarean by helping you write a birth plan especially designed for a cesarean. She can answer questions or suggest ones to ask your caregiver about. Inside the operating room a doula can assist Mom by giving her details of whatever she may wish to know. One important thing to know about a cesarean is that the baby is born in the first few minutes; the rest of the nearly hour long procedure is the repair. If the baby needs to visit the warmer or nursery the father often faces a hard decision of where to go: with the baby or stay with Mom. This can be a lonely time for the mother who has only seen her baby for a few moments and has likely not yet held him or her. Having a doula can help the family at this time by staying with Mom and allowing Dad to go with baby. A doula's presence can be very comforting. Dad and doula can send texts messages at this time to allow you to see pictures and details of your baby. A doula can also assist you with breastfeeding and/or pumping after a cesarean birth.
At what point in my pregnancy should I contact a doula?
It is fine to contact a doula at whatever point you feel comfortable. I always believe "the earlier the better" but there is no time that is too late. Ideally you will contact a doula early enough that you can meet 2-4 times to discuss your birth values, goals, and fears. The longer you have known your doula, the more of a relationship you will build.
When does a doula come to help me?
This would be entirely up to you. Many doulas have different policies for when to attend a birth. I have no such rules. I attend births when women are anywhere from 0-10 centimeters dilated. Most women prefer their doula to meet them at their home and stay with them whilst they labor until it is time to go to the hospital or birth center. They often find comfort in having the doula travel to hospital with them. Your doula will not drive you there but can provide support in the car while your partner drives.
Do doulas help single moms?
Yes! I am very passionate about providing services to mothers who do not otherwise have outside support. I provide reduced-fee services to single and teen mothers.
What about mothers and families who plan on adoption?
I strongly believe that mothers who plan to relinquish their child to adoption should have a doula there with them. I provide these services free of charge and am adamant on providing compassionate, non-judgmental support that is professional and private. I will not speak of your birth and experiences to anyone else but you.
What do you charge for doula services?
Visit my fees and services page for an outline of costs.
Will insurance pay for a Doula?
Possibly! It is rare, but not unheard of, for insurance companies to reimburse in whole or in part for doula services. We can discuss ways to successfully receive reimbursement at a prenatal appointment.