FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why would I want a doula?
Evidenced Based Birth studies have shown having a doula can result in a:
31% decrease in the use of Pitocin
28% decrease in the risk of C-section
12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth
9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience
Most importantly, however, a doula reminds women in labor that they are in control and to follow their instincts, whatever direction their instincts takes them. The result; a birth to be proud of no matter the circumstances. There are various reasons a doula is able help in the bulleted areas above but mainly these percentages are the result of a doula providing quality support and evidenced based information throughout pregnancy, labor and birth. Long ago we were able to rely on the experience of our mothers and our mother’s mothers as well as family and local community as we progressed through pregnancy and
childbirth. Unfortunately, people today have become more isolated, moving further and further from their families, making it difficult to find the support needed by someone who is not only experienced in birth but also able to care for our emotional well being. Society has turned birth into a medical emergency, making what should be a magical experience into an anxiety filled labyrinth. A doula provides a constant at a time when doctors and midwives have an increase in clients and are unable to give each mother the one on one attention they deserve and need.
What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
A midwife’s role at births is to monitor both mother and baby for potential health problems, to catch the baby, and provide immediate postpartum care. A midwife can perform duties such as vaginal exams, suturing, blood pressure, heart rate, and overall evaluations of the health of the mother and baby, among other things. A midwife has had special training to attend births as a medical professional, as well as provide a level of emotional support. A doula does not catch the baby or perform any medical tasks. A doula cannot evaluate the mother or baby for health problems. Doulas are trained to provide a high level of emotional and physical support. A midwife’s, doctor’s, or nurse’s priority is the physical health of the mother and baby, while a doula’s priority is the emotional health of the mother, her partner, and their baby. A professional doula will never tell you what you should or should not do, but will tell you the pros and cons for each option based on evidence based information. Doulas do not replace professional medical care.
Isn’t my partner supposed to do what a doula does? Will my partner’s role be threatened if I use a doula?
I consider it a priority to ensure that your husband or partner is free to fully participate in the birth experience with you. Partners need support, too! Freeing husbands and partners to truly be with the mother and be physically and emotionally present for the birth of their child is one of my most important roles as a doula.
Can I still benefit from having a doula if I am...
Planning on an epidural?
Plenty, if not most, woman receive an epidural for pain, some planned and some unplanned. A doula is able to support a laboring mom planning on receiving an epidural the same as one who is not. Many hospitals will only begin to administer anesthesia when a laboring woman is at least 4-5cm dilated. A doula supports a mom before during and after it is administered. Often times women are able to labor a longer amount of time with a doula lessening the chances of a needed c-section, or forceps/vacuum assisted deliver. Once a mom receives an epidural a doula helps keep mom and partner in the know to make decisions that are best for them as well as keep mom moving as much as possible in the bed for optimal fetal positioning. Whether a mom receives an epidural or not a doula is there throughout the labor to keep mom and partner feeling in control and as emotionally at peace as possible.
Having a scheduled a c-section?
If a mom has a scheduled c-section, there are plenty of things a doula is able to do beyond helping the mom throughout pregnancy. Before a c-section a doula is able to stay with the mom, calming her and her partner before the surgery, which often brings about all kinds of emotions. After the c-section, when the partner will need to stay with the baby, a doula is able to stay with the mom so she is not alone, keeping her updated on the process as well as simply providing comfort. A doula is also able to document the birth, write a birth story, take pictures (if allowable by the hospital), and help with breastfeeding.
Planning to have a home-birth?
This depends on your preferences and on your midwife. Some midwives work with apprentices who will fill the role of a doula. Most midwives offer a very high level of emotional support, regardless of whether they work alone or with apprentices. There are benefits to hiring a doula separately, however. You can interview several doulas to ensure the best relationship. Also, having a doula at your home-birth ensures that the level of emotional support will be maintained even in the event of an emergency, during which the midwife and apprentice could be too busy to offer much emotional support. As your doula, I will also provide an increased level of postpartum support.
Will my private health insurance cover the cost of a doula?
If you have private health insurance or health benefits, doula care may be covered (through a flexible health spending account, for example). If you are interested in this possibility, be sure to contact your insurance representative in advance. Sometimes a written ‘prescription’ for doula care from your healthcare provider, and/or a letter from your doula can help facilitate your request. I will do everything in power to help you with this endeavor.