Frequently asked questions
So... What is a doula?
A birth doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother (and her partner) before, during and just after birth. Doulas are labor support people, not medical providers.
What does a Doula actually DO?
A lot of doula work is actually about BEing. While a doula will offer information and reassurance during prenatal visits and during labor, many benefits of hiring a doula are intangible. The relationship and trust you build over the course of working together is so important. Holding sacred space for your birthing environment and remaining a constant pillar of calm, knowledgeable support during labor is hard to quantify. Imagine taking a treacherous hike through the jungle with no guide... a doula can offer insight and calm through otherwise unpredictable and unknown territory.
The DOing part can be summed up like this: Our agency doulas offer 2 in-home prenatal visits to get to know you better, to go over concerns and hopes, help you prepare a positive mindset, discuss comfort measures and coping techniques, birth preferences, positions, postpartum preparation, and breastfeeding basics. You'll also be able to utilize phone, text, and email availability throughout your pregnancy. On call starts as soon as we're hired to ensure support whenever you go into labor. Your doula will remain with you for labor and delivery, whether that's at your home, birth center, hospital or a combination of locations. She will stay up to a couple hours immediately postpartum to help you settle, assist with breastfeeding, and maybe even snap some first family photos for you on your phone! Then, within the first 2 weeks of being home, you'll get a postpartum check-in to debrief your birth, discuss breastfeeding, and ask for further resources.
Other doulas' services vary - some do more visits and some do less. Some have restrictions on hours of labor support or weeks of on-call time. Be sure to clarify when interviewing a doula what her services include.
Will a doula replace my spouse/partner?
Your partner has a very special role in childbirth. They have an intimate knowledge of you and will be able to tune in and support you in a unique way. A doula brings an intimate knowledge of birth. Doulas can allow you and your partner to relax more fully and focus on each other, rather than trying to recall every thing you learned in class or in books. A doula will also offer suggestions or demonstrate comfort measures for the partner so they can participate with a greater sense of usefulness.
A doula will reassure and care for both of you, as a unit, and can take care of other tasks (such as warming heat packs, lighting candles, getting water/food, etc.) so your partner can be present with you. Or, if your partner needs to use the bathroom, take a break, get a meal, etc. then you won't be left without support! Often times, partners report the tag team effort being exactly what they needed to be able to participate at a level they felt comfortable.
Many partners assume that other staff will be present for support and walking them through the process of labor. Most hospital staff would love to do this, but their job requires them to be in and out of the room throughout your labor - attending to other patients, charting, or taking breaks. Often times, shift changes occur during your birth and you'll meet two or three different nurses! In home or birth center situations, early and most of active labor will be done on your own before your midwifery team joins you. A doula is your familiar face with whom you've already established trust, remaining a constant pillar of support throughout your entire delivery.
Isn't a doula like a midwife? Why would I hire both?
No. A midwife is a primary care provider for low-risk pregnant women, offering complete medical care for you and your baby. A midwife may perform vaginal exams, check vitals, order labs or tests if needed, and other clinical tasks. Prenatal meetings with a midwife follow the same schedule you'd find with an OB. A midwife will attend to you intermittently during labor and delivery, but under most circumstances, won't arrive in person until you're much closer to delivery. Your doula will be present in person much earlier, but will be focused on different aspects of labor. Together, the two roles complement each other to round out a complete birth team!
Is a doula only for homebirths?
Not at all! Doulas are hired by YOU and will attend you wherever you decide to deliver. It is a doula's belief that you should birth in an environment where you feel safest and most comfortable. A doula is actually very instrumental in hospital and birth center births and can be an adaptable member of your care team. Because there is a lot to navigate when birthing on someone else's territory, it can be helpful to have a knowledgeable doula by your side to walk you through it.
How can a doula help me if I...?
...have an epidural?
Pharmaceutical pain relief does not eliminate the other needs of a woman in labor. A doula is still essential for guidance, reassurance, and emotional support for you and your partner. In addition, a doula can assist with specific labor positions that encourage progress with an epidural. Her knowledge and assistance during the pushing phase can be helpful. She can also ensure other parts of your birth plan are respected. Like any birth, if there are any changes or complications, your doula can help you navigate a stressful or unpredictable experience.
A doula is a great guide for walking you through what to expect with an induction. Often times, induced labor looks very much like spontaneous labor and a doula's role is similar. Sometimes, induced labor can be more difficult and a doula's skills can help you achieve a positive experience. She can also ensure other parts of your birth plan are respected. Like any birth, if there are any changes or complications, your doula can help you navigate a stressful or unpredictable experience.
...have a cesarean birth?
Whether planned or unexpected, a cesarean birth can bring its own unique challenges. A doula can be a great guide for walking you through what to expect before, during, and after delivery. She can also ensure other parts of your birth plan are respected. If baby needs to go to NICU, there is another familiar support person to stay with you in recovery if your partner/spouse follows your newborn. A doula can assist you with the initial breastfeeding in the recovery room as well. Like any birth, if there are any changes or complications, your doula can help you navigate a stressful or unpredictable experience.
What can I expect if...?
I labor for a really long time?
You deserve to have continuous doula support. Our doulas are dedicated to supporting you no matter how long it takes. If you prefer, you do have the option for fresh support after many hours. One of our other agency doulas is always available on back-up and can swap in if necessary. You can feel confident that you will be well-supported no matter what.
I go into labor before 38 weeks?
You can expect us to be there! Please call anytime you experience signs of labor. Our doulas are committed to being available but we do have back-up support just in case, so you will never be without doula support.
What does a doula cost?
The price tag of hiring a doula can vary a lot. When comparing the price of one doula versus another, it's important to make sure you understand what is included and not included in the initial fee. Some doulas add travel fees, some have hourly charges after a certain amount of time attending a birth, and some have add-ons or extras in their package. The number of prenatal and postpartum support visits can also vary.
In our agency, fees are set based on experience and training/certifications. This ranges from $795-$995, and we offer a 5% discount for payment in full upfront via cash or check. All agency clients also receive extra perks from For All of Maternity for choosing one of our doulas.
- 10% off products and clothing up to 8 weeks postpartum
- Hour long bodywork session with Paula
- Birth Planning class or $25 off Spinning Babies Parent Class
- $100 off birth photography package with Karen Leuch Photography