The most common questions are about information regarding different options that can be made concerning the care that a mother or baby will receive. For example, a lot of expecting families try to get advice about whether they should choose to get an epidural or whether to supplement with formula. The answer to any of these questions will be the following: it’s not for your doula to decide, it’s about what you as the parents or birthing person want(s)! Your doula can give you as much evidence-based information as you desire in order to make the decision that you think is best.
Expecting parents should know that the best doula for them will be the one that supports whatever choices the parents desire. Parents can search around for a doula that will best be able to do this. You should know the difference between continuous support from a doula versus continuous support from any other person, be it a healthcare professional, family member, or friend.
Studies have shown that having continuous support from a doula specifically leads to improved outcomes compared to when a mother receives continuous support from anyone else. Cost is often the only prohibitive factor or downside to doula care that is reported by families.
Yes! Even with a great physician or midwife, having a doula is a great benefit! Physicians or midwives may be busy with other patients and unable to provide continuous support. Even an in-home midwife with you as her only patient will need to focus on the clinical aspects of care rather than solely on providing comforting support to you.
A doula can be an extra set of eyes to assist in monitoring your condition when the provider is busy with other responsibilities. In addition, even a highly-likeable physician or midwife has obligations to hospitals or other overseeing physicians, as well as incentives and major pressure to perform interventions that may be medically unnecessary.
A doula can advocate for you and remind and encourage your provider to withstand the pressure they face and instead provide the kind of care that is not just safe, but also respectful towards the birthing process. This becomes important since medically-unnecessary interventions can lead to negative consequences for mother and baby.
Mothers gain a great sense of empowerment and comfort from their doulas and tend to have better health outcomes than mothers without a doula. Likewise, newborns who are born to those that have a doula are less likely to be born at an abnormally low birth weight and less likely to experience other complications, as well.
Importantly, a mother who feels empowered and supported by a doula will be better able to care for her baby. The support of a doula throughout the childrearing process may lead to less postpartum mood disorders (or the doula can help the mother realize that she needs to seek care) that can make it difficult to take care of a newborn. A happy mama results in a healthy baby!
Yes! There are several programs nationwide that assist families in securing doula care despite financial struggles. Many of these programs seek grant funding to pay for the service of the doulas.
Other doulas are willing to serve these families because they believe that every family and individual deserves a doula. However, many of these committed doulas struggle financially, themselves. Any payment that a client is able to make in return for the hard work that a doula performs is deeply appreciated!
There are various training organizations and multiple types of doulas, including postpartum doulas, birth doulas, and full-spectrum doulas. The best way to find the kind of doula that is right for you is to talk to a doula and see if they would be able to support your needs!
It may be best to hire a doula who can provide true continuity of care, i.e. a “full-spectrum doula” or one who simply uses the title “doula.” As the titles suggest, a postpartum doula specifically assists in the first few weeks or months after the birth has occurred. A birth doula will likely see you throughout your pregnancy, at the birth, and for a couple of sessions after the birth. A full-spectrum doula is likely willing to support you for any of these needs and more.
Doulas often go through training that teaches them about the pregnancy, labor, and postpartum processes. Some doulas instead learn their practice through many hours of self-study or apprenticeship. Whichever way a doula learns their practice, most doulas bring a high level of expertise to the table and are recognized by ACOG as an essential part of the perinatal care team. Some doulas may have years or decades of experience, while others may be newer to being a doula.
It is important to remember that the best doula for you is likely the one that you feel the most comfortable around and the most empowered by. This may be the doula who is newer to the practice! Many doulas are also trained in a variety of other relevant skills that may or may not be of interest to you, such as lactation education, nutritional support, prenatal and infant massage, hypnobirthing, traditional healing arts, and more.