A Doula, also known as a labor coach, is someone who helps you through labor and acts as an advocate for you. Usually they are female and their main focus is supporting the mom during labor and childbirth. Some may even stay to help out afterwards and many offer additional services such as Hypnobirthing and placenta encapsulation. If your partner is involved, the Doula will often work with them and teach them some pain relief techniques, so they can take turns supporting the mom.
Doula's are great for anyone, but especially if you plan on going the more natural route. They will go over your birth plan with you so once you are in the hospital or birth center, they know what you want and will talk to your doctor for you. They basically act as the messenger between you and your doctor in order to follow your birth plan as close as possible, but remember things can change as birth is unpredictable.
I plan on giving birth in a hospital with a midwife, but all my midwives recommend having a Doula since they are not able to be with us 24/7, like a Doula can. It wasn't something we really considered until they mentioned it and it sounded like a good idea, especially since this is our first and we have no idea what to expect. Many of my family members, surprisingly, have had Doula's and highly recommend having one, so thus began our search for a Doula.
How to Choose a Doula?
First, I highly recommend using Doula Match to find a Doula in your area. Doula Match will search by availability for you due date and will give you profiles for all the Doula's in your area along with their price point. If not Doula Match, then my second go to would be family and friends to see who they used and recommend, or you can ask your midwives or OBGYN for their recommendations.
Doula prices range dramatically from as low as $100 to has high as $1500. This is because they often work privately so they can set their rates, and the higher the rate, the more experience the Doula tends to have. In some cases you may qualify to have a free Doula, but that depends on if your area has a program like that available to you.
Once you figure out your price point, you will want to make a list of Doulas that fit your budget and research them. Once you find one you like, you will want to interview her to make sure she is a good fit for you and your family, and that you feel comfortable around her. I have provided a list of some interview questions below.
Doula Interview Questions
- Why did you become a Doula?
- How many births have you attended? What is your experience?
- Do you have a back up in case you are unable to attend the birth?
- Do you offer a refund if you can't attend?
- Are you able to help with breastfeeding?
- What are your views on pain medication?
- Will you meet at our home while in early labor or will you meet us at the hospital while in active labor?
- Am I able to contact you at anytime with questions?
- How long will you stay after the birth?
- Do you do prenatal and/or postpartum visits?
- How do you work with and involve my partner during the birth process?
- How many clients do you take per month?
- How do you take payment?
- Would you be willing and able to take photos using our camera during and after the birth?
Our Doula Experience
Our Doula was amazing and I am so glad we chose to have one. My labor went super fast and it was intense. I don't think I could have managed without her. She was there helping to relieve the pain and also advocated for us. This allowed my husband to stay by my side and comfort me, while she did everything else from grabbing ice chips to talking to the nurses.
After the birth she even ran out to get Epsom salt so I could take a bath later (recommended by midwife to help with healing as I suffered a second degree tear) since the hospital didn't have any on hand. She also took photos for us after the birth.
Overall I highly recommend having a Doula. Having that extra support makes the birth experience a lot better.