Doula FAQ

Why hire a doula? What does a doula do and NOT do?

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What is your training & experience?

Feel welcome to review my ‘Relevant Activities’ (including trainings and certifications) on this page. I’m a forever learner and use every experience in this work to encourage the evolution of my offerings.

What is your general philosophy as a doula?

My intention as a doula is to help you have a safe, remarkable, memorable, and inspiring birth experience. I want you to feel at peace with your choices from the options given, and that you have weighed or tried all desired alternatives. My goal is to help you avoid feelings of “If only I had known [xyz]” or “What if I had tried [xyz].”

I won’t fill your head with ‘shoulds.’ Instead I cultivate a recognition of your power of responsibility within — enabling you to make your own confident decisions. I nurture an understanding of this concept: “Freedom of choice through knowledge of alternatives” (International Childbirth Education Association). I won’t instruct about what you ‘should’ or ‘need’ to do. Instead I will help you tap into your instincts and explore your findings in a safe space that we will build together.

My view is that a doula is an important part of a unique collaboration between the birthing parent, family, and care providers. Read more about my philosophy.

What birth settings do you attend?

I attend births at birth centers, midwife-attended home births, and area hospitals. Though I fully support a parent’s right to birth at home unassisted (as planned free-birth) and trust the intuition in doing so, I do not attend these births at this time.

Do you only attend unmedicated/natural labors?

I support a birthing parent’s decisions about medication in any setting. Opting for medication pain relief or labor augmentation is a very personal choice, and I am here to help regardless what that choice may be.

At a labor involving an epidural, I can help position you so the drug distributes more evenly and dilation isn’t impeded. This includes periodically turning you and showing you how to support hips and natural lumbar curve with pillows to avoid back pain after anesthesia wears off. I can also help you determine the ideal timing for receiving the epidural. I can be a great emotional ally because although an epidural quiets your physical sensations, it will not necessarily provide calm for your mental state.

Of course, sometimes epidurals don’t work and labor sensations are still felt, or labor progresses too quickly to be eligible for a planned epidural; I can offer comfort measures in case of a surprise.

Whether a labor is induced or not, there are practical things to take care of while you labor. When I assist with these things, your partner can focus on being wholly present for you. A doula can also serve as a witness to help you feel more secure if you expect interventions.

Do you attend cesarean births?

Yes! There’s no reason why a person having a surgical birth would be in less need of emotional support in the form of doula care. Cesarean is not an uncommon way to give birth. Sometimes it’s planned and scheduled, sometimes it happens after many conversations about this choice during labor, and occasionally it happens in emergency circumstances.

Here are a few of the ways I can serve at a planned/unplanned cesarean:

  • I share information about family-centered cesarean options, and remind you of ways you can preserve aspects of your original birth plan if the cesarean was unexpected.
  • I prepare you for what to expect from an emotional and physical standpoint, with insights that may go unmentioned by medical attendants.
  • I stay either in the operating room with you or wait for you to finish surgery, per your wishes and hospital policy.
  • I help facilitate a smooth transition in reconnecting you with your baby as soon as possible.
  • I help you develop a realistic and heartening recovery plan.
  • I share ways to make breastfeeding more comfortable while recovering from surgery.
  • I’m available for questions and concerns in the immediate postpartum as you wait to be discharged from the hospital.
  • Sometime between settling in at home and your next care provider appointment, I visit you in-person to see how things are going and help prepare you for life with your little one.
  • I make recommendations for body workers, scar tissue treatments, and other helpful post-surgery services, upon request.

Does a doula replace the role of my partner?

A great doula helps a partner feel more involved in the birth process, not pushed away from it. A doula’s role revolves around the birthing couple’s specific wants and needs. Whatever you envision for your partner’s involvement, a doula can help make it a reality.

As one example, if you prefer physical attention and comforting touch to come from your partner, I can make suggestions for comfort techniques or take care of other tasks in the meantime. A similar quandary: do you want your partner to fill up the birth pool while you’re (for sake of example) struggling with back labor or would you rather your partner focus that energy on providing counter pressure? Birth team members can generally only handle one task at a time, and this is where a doula comes in handy!

At any birth, a partner will need:

  • breaks to take care of personal needs & avoid exhaustion
  • time & space to be able to enjoy this day, which is a special milestone for them too!
  • affirmation that s/he is doing a great job
  • a solid understanding of how birth works, what to expect, how to actively help
  • a sense of self-esteem in knowing s/he is a vital, acknowledged member of the birth team

As your doula, I can:

  • take over active support so your partner can have a break
  • handle mundane or practical tasks so your partner can be close to you during special moments
  • assure your partner that s/he has a unique role in the birth process & is capable of wonderfully supporting you/baby
  • give your partner guidance on the birth process & reminders of your options
  • provide a feeling of relief knowing they aren’t alone — as a doula I’m the personal ‘handmaiden’ to the birthing duo

What if I’m a single parent?

A doula may be especially beneficial for a single parent. I’m here to listen to you, to support your vision of pregnancy and new parenthood, to help you nurture it into fruition. As a non-judgmental birth professional whose agenda is YOUR agenda, my mission is to ensure you feel the steady pulse of support, commiseration, and empowerment you deserve. Together we will find ways for your pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum to feel fulfilling, connected, and manageable. No one should have to feel alone in pregnancy and birth!

Don’t nurses, OB/GYNS or midwives basically do what a doula does?

Nurses spend a great deal of time reviewing monitors, charting, and splitting their time between multiple patients each shift. A doula spends her entire “shift” near the birthing parent, and devotes oneself to a single client at a time.

At a hospital birth, an OB/GYN is usually seldom seen (if at all) until it is time to deliver and leaves shortly thereafter. A doula stays with you from active labor until everyone is settled in postpartum.

Midwives and their birth assistants have various responsibilities at a birth unrelated to comfort care, such as charting, setting supplies, taking heart tones and other health assessments, and keeping a watchful eye on the baby’s response to labor. A doula remains by the laboring person so they’re never without support when attention is otherwise divided.

Often, we find instances of ‘all hands on deck’ at birth; this is when a doula can be an irreplaceable asset. Also keep in mind: as a doula I don’t perform medical tasks, I don’t catch babies, and I don’t make health diagnoses. These are the responsibilities of your OB/GYN or midwife.

Doesn’t a relative or close friend basically do what a doula does?

As a doula, my position is different from that of a family member or close friend. First, as a trained birth professional who has a solid understanding of physiological birth, I’m experienced and comfortable in the process of guiding laboring parents.

I also support you without personal bias or unrelated history brought into the birthing day. Though a friend or relative is likely to worry as they watch you in distress or what they perceive as suffering, I remain calm, collected, and focused on you. When a friend or relative may feel led to blurt out excited notes of advice or observation, a doula is mindful of the sanctity of the space and the emotional susceptibility of the event.

There are many benefits to hiring a helper who isn’t bogged down by protocols (nurses and medical providers) or personal concerns (relatives, friends).

Do you only support breastfeeding families?

I support all variations of infant feeding as I recognize exclusive breastfeeding is not possible for all families. Regardless of method, infant feeding is never easy when undertaken alone.

If you’ve decided breastfeeding isn’t right for you, for any reason, you will be turning to options like formula feeding, exclusively pumping, using donor milk, chestfeeding, body feeding, or giving mixed feedings — which come with their own learning curves and questions.

To help you meet your goals, I can provide information on different formulas (minus the advertisements and kickbacks), and connect you with local milk donors. I can also help you create a supplementation plan (one that least impacts milk supply) for consideration by baby’s health provider.

What supplies do you bring to a birth as a doula?

First, remember the most important “thing” a doula brings to a birth is not in her bag — it’s herself! My mind, heart, and hands are my primary support tools; they cannot be bought in a store!

That said, I will also bring a magical bag full of feel-goods! During pregnancy, we will discuss your favorite methods of increasing oxytocin and managing big sensations. I can bring various items that might include counter-pressure/massage tools, energy-boosters, Rebozo, aromatherapy oils, birth/peanut ball, ambiance-setters, camera for non-professional supplementary photos, etc. I can also keep track of progress with a contraction timer so YOU can avoid the labor math.

At what point in pregnancy should I hire a doula?

This is entirely up to you. Keep in mind though, the earlier you reserve your date, the more use you’ll get out of your doula! The cost of doula support is the same whether you book right after your pregnancy test turns positive or right as your first labor contraction begins. I do offer a package that tailors to the late-to-hire folks (I get it — pregnancy gets busy! Where does the time go?!).

As a mother myself who hired doulas for both births at different points in pregnancy, I would personally recommend locking in a favorite doula as soon as you find one. This gives you plenty of time to connect, gain trust, and work through birth-related thoughts and emotions together.

When do I call for you in labor?

You’ll keep me updated about any early labor signs so we will be in communication before you require my physical support. Usually, a member of your birth team will call me to join you when active labor begins and generally it will take up to two hours to reach you (notwithstanding additional travel time outside my radius).

Do you have a back-up doula?

On rare occasion, a backup may be needed in case of unforeseen emergency or health complication. In the event that a back-up is needed to replace me at a birth, an excellent doula will be available at no extra charge to you. You are welcome to request to meet the back-up prior to labor if you feel led to do so.

How can I afford a doula?

  • Add services to your baby registry
  • Ask me about a payment plan
  • I have flexible payment options
  • I’m happy to customize a package to fit your budget
  • Ask me about bartering goods/services
  • Ask family/friends to donate funds for pre-birth gift-giving occasions
  • Use a flex savings or health savings account
  • Save receipts and send to insurance; sometimes reimbursements are possible
  • Remember, the average cost of an epidural is $2,132, which your insurance may cover in part or not at all. A doula’s attendance at birth is shown to significantly decrease chances of epidural, thereby costing less overall.

What is the cost breakdown involved in a doula investment?

Your investment in doula services goes toward more than just compensation taken home by your doula. Overhead and other considerations include:

  • doula training, initial certification, & annual recertification costs
  • continuing education costs
  • time spent with: consults & meetings…
  • …research & paperwork
  • …prenatal communication
  • …birth plan writing
  • …editing any birth photos
  • being on-call 24/7 from 38 weeks onward
  • continuous labor support (average length of birth is 13 hours)
  • several hours’ worth of postpartum support
  • travel time
  • gas costs
  • supplies cost (labor tools, books, printing, etc)
  • childcare costs during meetings & birth
  • personal costs during birth (food & drink)
  • hospital parking fees, tolls if applicable
  • PayPal / invoice platform, fees, if applicable
  • website hosting fees
  • taxes

Is there an extra fee for certain births?

The investment remains the same regardless of type of birth — no discrimination! I don’t charge extra for labors that last longer than average, or offer discounts for shorter labors, as I put equal effort into all births. Please see below for discount info.

What if I’m an LGBTQIA parent?

As a member of and ally to the LGBTQIA community, I remain a loving supporter of queer parents and that will never change. If you will be birthing a baby or present at the birth of your baby, I can help; gender and/or sex orientation should not be an additional barrier to receiving support. You will be best served by a doula with a sensitivity for using inclusive language/correct pronouns in your interactions and an ability to produce appropriate resources for LGBTQIA clients. Your doula should not demonstrate ANY personal views that corrupt an ability to assist you lovingly. I am happy to offer a discount for QPOC families in need — please inquire.

What if I’m a teen/young parent?

Regardless of your age, you may have certain wishes for your birth that you hope will be respected. Birth is an immensely personal and intimate affair that remains so, regardless of the birthing person’s age. I can provide relevant resources for young parents, refer to advisors on any concerning family situations, and help you make a postpartum plan that reinforces your healing, with co-habitants and family in mind, if applicable. I’m proud to offer a discount for teen parents.

What if I’m an adoptive or surrogate parent?

First, you’re amazing! I’m honored to design a custom birth/postpartum package that fits your needs. For a relinquishing or surrogate parent, there is much peace of mind in knowing someone is looking out for you, open to listening to you without judgment, and sympathetic to the process from your perspective. I also fully endorse the use of adoption/surrogacy doulas with specialized training in this circumstance if you locate one you really love.

How will I know if our personalities click?

We will get to know each other a bit at your first consultation, which is always free with no commitment. I recommend considering what style of doula assistance you’d like so you know what you’re looking for before we meet. Many times, a family will simply have a ‘good feeling’ about a prospective doula and I encourage them to trust their intuition. If it feels like we don’t exactly vibe in the way you envision for your pregnancy and birth journey, that’s totally okay. No hard feelings! I want you to have the experience that’s right for YOU. You can learn a little more about me here.

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