Please use the following section to help you understand the how's and what's about a Doula. If you have other questions, please don't hesitate to contact me and ask.

Does a Doula take the place of the father?

No. A Doula can actually bring a couple closer together. This is a stressful time for the couple. A Doula can help the father stay focused and calm while giving the love and support to the mother. A father needs to be pampered too! A Doula can do exactly that. Many times a father will forget to eat to keep his strength up. And when the dad needs a break - the Doula is there to give him a rest.

Fathers may worry they are not doing enough or the right thing. A Doula can help him care for and support the mom by giving suggestions, providing encouragement or giving needed breaks during a long labor. It is easy for the inexperienced dad to become overwhelmed and easily frustrated when the simple comfort techniques taught to them don't work - or are forgotten! A doula can help offer the right suggestion at the appropriate time, helping the father use his support skills better.

As one father put it "How can I coach when I have never played the game??" One study showed that 60% of fathers that have taken birth education classes become mostly a spectator, as they became overwhelmed with the surroundings.

A doula helps the father to be more involved and more effective. The nurses can not be with you at every moment or may not be at liberty to answer your questions in an unbiased manner. The doula fulfills this role so that parents receive the information they need to make informed decisions.

In short, the couple will find that the doula enriches the father's role by supporting both of them, not just the woman.

I am planning on having an Epidural for my Labor, Why Use a Doula?

Doulas help you make informed decisions for your care and your babies care. This doesn't stop just because you decide on an epidural. Pain relief in labor can be a real help, but you still have decisions to make. There are risks involved in the use of medication in labor.

The father or birth partner will still need support and relief, and during the often exhausting work of pushing, a doula can be valuable in lending a hand, offering suggestions, and in general, helping you avoid intervention that is likely to result with the use of an epidural or other medication, that you wouldn't experience otherwise - like a forceps or vacuum extraction birth.

During your prenatal visits, your Doula will help you arrive at an informed choice and then fully support your decision. An example would be that most doctors won't tell you before hand that they won't allow an epidural until 4-5 cm dilation. Or that the epidural may not work. Planning a pain free labor with no support can turn into a miserable labor when the epidural doesn't work or is patchy. With an epidural you are subject to more intervention from medical procedures, such as the use of pitocin.. Again the doula can give you the information you need to make informed decisions and offer you alternatives - whether before the birth or during the event

Another scenario could be that you are planning a natural birth, but plan on having pain medication "if it gets too bad" and would like to hold off for as long as you can. A doula can help you do that and help you obtain a natural, normal birth.

A doula can often help moms get to 7-8 cm comfortably before they ask for pain relief. For them that is an awesome accomplishment. After hearing how far they are, they opt to continue without medication and deliver unmedicated, giving the sense of control, pride in themselves and accomplishment.

This is our first baby and I really want this to be a special/intimate time just between my husband and I. We really don't want a stranger there, why would I use a doula?

Your doula won't be a stranger to you once you've hired her! You will have become acquainted with each other during your prenatal visits. You probably also wouldn't hire someone you didn't feel comfortable with. If you are giving birth in a hospital, you will meet many strangers depending on how long you are there. Nurses, doctors, anasthesiologists to mention a few. Your own doctor may not even be there to deliver your baby!

When things get tough or things happen beyond your control, and different people are scurrying in and out of your room, it will be extremely comforting to have a doula there - someone you know and trust who will be able to inform you of what's going on! She won't be a stranger.

Would a doula be offended if asked her to leave for a few minutes? We may want some private time alone as a couple.

A doula should not take offense to anything the parents need to make their birth a positive experience! I do encourage couples to spend time together. During labour you may need a few moments of privacy to regroup as a couple and get encouragement from each other. Your Doula can also make sure that no one else interrupts you needlessly during that time.

She is your advocate above all. After your baby is born, I stay around until everything has settled down and mom and baby are fine - and then I give the new family time alone. This is essential for bonding and for loving each other after such an emotional event!

What about other family, won't it get confusing with a lot of people?

A birth in the family is an exciting event, and family and friends should participate if this is the wish of the birthing couple. Often family wants to help but aren't sure how, which can lead to confusion and add to the stress of the mother. The Doula can coordinate the efforts of the group, by giving them things to do and making them feel more useful. She may also help educate your family prior to labor, so that your family knows your wishes and what they can do to help you.

Won't the nurses do most of this for us? Why would we need someone there if she will be there for us? What about my doctor, where will he/she be?

Without a doubt, nurses are usually wonderfully supportive. However it is unusual for you to be her only patient She won't be able to be with you continually, and when she does come in the room to see you, it is more often than not to assess you and the baby and to record things in your chart. On average a nurse only spends 9.9% in actual supportive care during an average labor, and only a small percent of that is physical support. It is usually more verbal/instructional support.

On top of this, nurses do change shifts. Depending on the hospital you give birth in they may work a 12 hour or an 8 hour. And then there are the times where they may call in a nurse just for several hours until the load is a bit lighter. So chances of you having the same nurse throughout your labour is pretty slim. They have to go on breaks and when they do - another nurse you may have never met, may have to come in to do an assessment.

Your Doula however, stays with you throughout your labour. One continuous presence. Even your doctor may not be the same one that was on call when you started! Your doctor will only be called in occasionally and may not show up until the very last pushes to bring your baby into the world. Most doctors are very busy and manage most womens' labor by phone, sometimes managing several women at one time.

What If I Have a Midwife? If I am having a home birth then a doula seems redundant.

A doula can still provide a valuable service, including personal childbirth education and labor support. Midwives will take the place of a doctor, therefore their primary concern is your physical well being and the baby's well being.

Having a Doula ensures that you still receive the emotional support necessary during labour. Some midwives prefer not to give that extra emotional support. They'd rather a Doula did it! Talking to your midwife is a good suggestion to see what her take on you having a doula is.

How Much Does a Doula Charge?

Generally it depends on the services offered/desired. An average of 250.00 to 800.00 is not unusual depending on where you live & what services are offered. Most Doulas require a retainer (usually 50.00 to 100.00) at the time of hiring.

This covers the prenatal visits and being on-call, the phonecalls etc. The remainder may be asked two weeks prior to your due date or after the birth at a postnatal visit. Most Doulas have their own payment schedules and are willing to work with families on that, if done in advance or upon signing the contracts.

What Books Would You Recommend Reading?

This is a list of books that I recommend for Doulas and parents (some of this is required reading for doulas) and general good reference to learn about birth and the options available along with the information needed to make informed decisions during pregnancy, birth and post partum.

  • The Birth Book by Dr. William and Martha Sears, RN IBCLC
  • Mothering the Mother: How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier & Healthier Birth by John H. Kennell , Phyllis H. Klaus , Marshall H. Klaus
  • Active Birth by Janet Balaskas
  • Good Birth, Safe Birth by Diana Korte and Roberta Scaer
  • Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way by Susan McCuthcheon
  • Silent Knife: Cesarean Prevention & VBAC by Nancy Wainer Cohen & Lois Estner
  • The Amazing Newborn by Marshall & Phyllis Klaus