During my first pregnancy, I was nervous about what would happen to my body and how painful labor would actually be. You could say that I had some first-time jitters about the whole experience and so my mother suggested that I hire a doula. I had no idea what a doula was at the time but after meeting Anna, the woman who held my knees while I birthed my first child, I was forever sold on the magical experience of having a doula.
Throughout my pregnancy, Anna was calming and kind and she made my anxiety about pregnancy melt away. Her care in tandem with my midwife and my medical doctor is exactly why my son’s birth went as smoothly as it could have gone. If you’ve ever wondered what a doula is and what they do, then pull up a seat, I”m about to lay down some facts for you.
The word doula has Greek roots, and it means “servant of women” and generally refers to the centuries-old practice of women coaching mothers who are in labor. In modern times, a doula is someone, usually a woman, who is not medically trained but who assists during pregnancy, labor and birthing, and postpartum by being physical and emotional support for the mother. Doulas have become increasingly popular over the last decade and where they were once typically only found in midwifery clinics they are now commonly found in hospitals.
The types of services that a doula provides can vary but generally speaking, they support in the following ways:
- Educate mothers about pregnancy health
- Educates mothers about what to expect during labor
- Provides nonjudgmental support during labor
- Holds the mother hands during labor and provides physical comfort
- After childbirth, doulas assist mothers with nursing, postpartum health, and rest
- Doulas make sure that mother and baby are healthy and do postpartum check-ups
Is a doula right for you?
The primary role of a doula during labor and birth is to advocate for the mother no matter what kind of birth she is having. Moms who want to feel empowered and supported through the process of labor will often elect to hire a doula. Many insurance companies now cover the cost of a doula but if you end up paying out-of-pocket, the standard fee for a labor doula can range from $300 to $1000 and many will accept payment plans.
Try not to wait until you’re in labor to finally hire a doula, it is best to find a doula who feels like a good match for you as early in your pregnancy as you can.
Doulas do an amazing job at chaperoning a woman through her pregnancy and labor experience. By guiding you through your fears, explaining what to expect, and giving you practical tips on everything from breathing through contractions to postpartum care, a doula can be an invaluable resource not to mention a wonderful mental and emotional support.
Every pregnancy is a special and important journey and having a doula can help make that journey smooth. For more information about doulas or how to hire one, check out this expansive doula database at DONA International.