What Is a Doula and Why Should I Hire One?

by Pauline Renard
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Doulas are birth companions who accommodate couples during birth. They provide information, advocacy skills and physical & emotional support during labour.
Most often, dad may not have the knowledge and confidence that everything is going just as it should during labour, even when it is. A doula does not replace dad in any way. She helps them both by guiding the couple as they labour together.

Extensive studies have found that women who use a doula during birth have better outcomes, including reports of less pain in labour, less medical interventions, lower incidence of postpartum depression, increased incidence of breastfeeding at 6 weeks, and a more satisfying birth experience.

What’s the big deal about having a satisfying birth? I’m planning to use an epidural anyway…

You may think that minimal pain in birth automatically equals a satisfying experience, but research has shown differently.  For example, one study concluded that birth experience was enhanced by feeling “safe, secure, supported, respected, confident, and in control”. These factors play a larger role in a woman’s experience than her level of pain.

Our current medical system is not set up in such a way that can provide women with continuous emotional and physical support. Even though there are some great Labour and Delivery nurses, they tend to be in and out of the hospital room and are tied up with more of the clinical tasks.  

Tips for when hiring a doula:

There are a lot of great doulas out there, but not all of them may be the right fit for you. Interview  2-3 doulas prior to hiring one.  Start off with a phone call. If you get a good sense, meet for coffee.

Can you picture them at your birth? We are talking about one of the most intimate and life altering experiences you will have, would you feel comfortable with her present by your side?

All doulas have their own philosophy of birth but a good doula will have YOUR personal wishes in mind. She will meet with you at least once before birth to go over some prenatal material, discus your preferences for birth, and formulate a plan on how she can work with you and dad to best support you during your birth.

How much does it cost to hire a Doula?

Most doulas have undergone some form of training. The most popular certifications are from DONA and CAPPA. A doula sets her fee in accordance to her training and experience. The average price for a doula is $1000.

“If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.” – John H. Kennel, MD

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