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HOW TO: decide if a doula is right for you

Once I decided to have natural childbirth with my second pregnancy, my next step was to ensure my partner and I were fully supported to make this healthy and happy experience that I was envisioning a reality. During my exploration of deciding between home birth and a more traditional setting at the hospital, the word "doula" kept coming up in conversation. I was intrigued by the idea of a non-intrusive "fairy godmother" and so my research began. I have to say, now after having 3 births, hiring a doula was one of the very best decisions we made.  

What do birth doulas offer?

  • Physical Support

Throughout our pregnancy, Lin (our doula) spent a great deal of time getting to know us as a couple.  She learned the way I enjoy being touched and triggers to avoid.  From music to lighting preferences, Lin was incredibly committed to creating a birth environment that would put us completely at ease.  Your doula will guide you both on position ideas for comfort and labor progression cross over with hands-on comfort measures like comforting touch, counter pressure, breathing techniques, and other “doula magic” for families. 

  • Emotional Support

Doulas help families to feel supported- this is really great for siblings and partners. Your doula should ease the emotional experience of birth and also helping to create a space where the hormones of labor can work at their best. Whether a birth is completely unmedicated or medically very complex, every family can benefit from nurturing and connection at this tender, incredible time in their lives.

  • Partner Support

Whether it’s a spouse, a friend or another family member like the baby’s grandma, the birth partner’s experience matters in birth. Your doula will be there to support every birth partner in being as involved as they’d like with the birth.  It truly can take a village to help make mama feel comfortable during pregnancy, labor/birth, and post-partem. Physical and emotional support makes a huge difference for everyone involved.

How much does a doula cost?

The cost of a doula varies by region, but it can range from $800 to $2,500, with the average cost around $1,200. Some doulas charge by the hour, while others have a flat fee. I definitely prefer the flat fee since ideally, your doula should be with you throughout the pregnancy, birth and for post-partem visits. Their services include a prenatal visit, labor and delivery, and a post-delivery follow-up. While having a doula may be an out-of-pocket expense for you, some insurance companies will cover some or all of the cost depending on your plan. Call your insurance company's benefits department to get details. You may have to pay the doula first, get a detailed receipt and then submit a claim for reimbursement.

The Fourth Trimester advantage...

Some doulas are trained to help new moms cope with common post-birth issues related to bathing, diapering, swaddling, sleeping, nursing and more. Our doula, for instance, was a certified lactation consultant and assisted with latching techniques in those early days after we came home from the hospital(one of the most common problems post-birth). Many doulas are there to advise you and give you the confidence to take care of your baby (but not to watch over your little ones like a nurse or nanny), as well as be on the lookout for signs of postpartum depression. If you think there’s a chance you may want to work with a postpartum doula, make sure to ask your birth doula candidates for their specific certifications since some are only licensed for birth, others are certified just for postpartum, and some are trained in both pre- and post-birth issues.

 

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