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What is a Doula?

Posted on August 16th, 2013 by | 5 views

What is a Doula?

A doula is traditionally a women experienced and knowledgeable in the birth process who offers labor support and companionship for pregnant mothers and their partners. Every doula is trained to provide emotional, physical and informational support.

What does a Doula do?

The biggest role of the doula is to support the mother and her wishes. A good doula supports all birth settings including birth centers, hospitals and home births. This also includes the support of medicated and non-medicated births and cesarean deliveries.

 Emotional Support

The doula recognizes birth as a key experience for the laboring woman and takes on a nurturing and loving role for the expectant mom. She gives continuous attention, words of encouragement and preserves and protects the memory of the experience for the woman.

 Physical Support

The doula is familiar with the normalcy of labor and birth and encourages Mom to trust her body and the process. She has great ideas for changing positions, relaxation techniques and other comfort measures. She will also encourage the partner to participate at their comfort level.

 Informational Support

The doula is able to educate her moms and partners on pregnancy, labor, birth and postpartum matters. She helps them understand the risks and benefits of procedures and interventions as well as the appropriate alternatives. She helps Mom prepare and carry out her birth plan. She helps facilitate communication between the laboring mom, her partner and her care providers.

 Is there anything a Doula won’t do?

There is not much that a doula doesn’t do. She will do her very best to anticipate and provide all of your needs during pregnancy, labor, birth and beyond. There are, however, a few things a doula will not do:

A Doula does not:

- Replace any medical staff

- Perform medical tasks

- Provide postpartum clinical care

- Make decisions on behalf of the mother

- Intervene in clinical care, or

- Make the partner feel unnecessary or useless

 Why do YOU need a Doula?

Although the idea and act of women supporting each other during labor has been around for centuries, the professional doula is making an overwhelmingly positive impression on our birthing scene these days. Recent studies have shown that having a doula at your birth drastically decreases your odds of medical intervention by the following:

- 50% less likely to require delivery by cesarean

- 25% shorter labor

- 40% decrease in the use of oxytocin

- 60% less likely to request an epidural

 What is the difference between a Doula and a Midwife?

This is a common question, many people mix up the two terms. What you see listed above is everything a doula is and does; she is a great source of support but does not have any medical training or authority. A midwife is a medical professional with extensive training, education and clinical supervision. A midwife is certified to provide family planning, prenatal care, prescribe some medications and deliver babies.

 How do I hire a Doula?

Doulas are usually available for hire as independent contractors. The best way to find one is through word of mouth, but if you have to start from scratch an internet search in your area should produce good results. Click here to browse the experienced team at Embracing Labor. Pick a handful of doulas to interview. The personal connection you feel with the individual is going to be the best indicator of compatibility for your birth.

Questions to ask your potential Doula:

- What training have you had?

- What is your fee and what does it include?

- Do you have a backup and may we meet her?

- What is your experience as a birth doula?

- What is your philosophy about birth and how do you plan on supporting our wishes?

- May we call you with questions and concerns before and after the birth?

- When will you join us in labor?

- Are you available to meet after the birth to review labor and answer questions?

Once you decide on the right fit make sure your expectations and needs and your doula’s policies are in writing for you both to review as necessary.  Completing an evaluation for your doula after the birth is an excellent way to give feedback that will help your doula continue to provide the best care for her future clients.

How much does a Doula cost?

Doulas work on a very broad pay scale. A doula can charge anywhere from $200-$1,500, but the average range is $500-$700. Don’t think you can afford one? Many doulas are willing to negotiate or work on a sliding scale. Contact a local service and express your need so they can determine how best to serve you.

So, now what?

If you have just discovered for the first time what a doula is, spread the word! Embracing Labor’s goal is to educate our community on birthing options and ultimately make every birth a doula-assisted birth. If you are an expectant parent in the San Diego area and interested in hiring a doula, please come to our next Meet The Doula Night ; it’s a wonderful opportunity to get questions answered, meet our team and interview many experienced doulas in one evening. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below and we would be more than happy to continue the discussion!

*  Embracing Labor is a team of San Diego labor support offering Birth & Postpartum Doulas, Childbirth Education, Lactation Counceling, Placenta Incapsulation and Prenatal Massage. Visit to learn more, receive free education and a complimentary consultation.

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