Please contact me if you have any questions that have not been addressed here!
Why should I hire a doula?
What is the difference between a doula and a midwife?
What is a doula's role?
Why do I need a doula if I have a partner?
What do you charge for your services?
Do doulas work with both doctors and midwives?
I thought doulas only attended home births?
I want a natural birth, but in a hospital setting, how can my doula help?
I want the drugs! What if my doula doesn’t approve?
What if I have a cesarean? Do I still need a doula? Can my doula come into the Operating Room with me?
Do you work with more than one family at a time? How do you guarantee you can be there for a family when labour happens?
What happens after my baby is born?
I want to breastfeed...but what if I have problems?
How many times will a doula visit me?
What training does a doula have?
Are doulas covered by medical care?
How many doulas should I interview?
Where can I find out more about doulas?
What do you love best about being a doula?
I think absolutely every family can benefit from having a doula present at their birth as well as during the fourth trimester (postpartum). A doula, if she is doing her job well, is an integral part of the birth team and becomes kind of an honorary person in the clients family, at least for a time. There is research to support that the use of doulas during labour reduces the incidence of cesarean sections, the use of pain medication, and the incidence of other interventions, and in general, a happier, more satisfied birth experience. Having a postpartum doula has been shown to help with parent/infant bonding, leads to increased breastfeeding rates, and a lesser incidence of postpartum depression. I think that there is a doula out there for every family, and it is one of my favourite parts about being a doula is meeting and working with so many wonderful and varied families!
The role of a doula differs quite significantly from that of a midwife. While midwives offer medical support and have a medical based background, doulas are not medical care providers. Instead, doulas offer pre and postnatal emotional support for the mother and her partner. She provides physical support through comfort measures such as gentle massage, guided breathing, and position support and provides education and information to the mother so that she can make informed choices in her birthing experience. As well, she advocates for her client’s wishes but does not have the training or the legal right to give advice or prescribe.
Doulas do not:
During pregnancy, a doula helps you prepare for birth by:
During labour, a doula cares for your physical and emotional wellbeing by using comfort measures such as:
A doula assists in communicating with caregivers, supporting the decisions you set out in your birth plan and those you make as labour progresses. The doula never makes decisions on your behalf or speaks for you to your caregivers. A doula acts as like a reference book for the birthing couple providing information on hospital options, possible benefits, risks and alternatives. As well, she can act as a sounding board while couples make their own decisions.
A doula can help preserve your birth memory by doing some of the following:
During the postpartum period, a doula helps with the transition to parenthood by:
A Postpartum Doula is trained specifically to serve the mother and her family throughout the postpartum transition period. She offers a non-judgmental presence in the home and is trained in breastfeeding support, personal mother-care guidance, newborn care techniques, babywearing, emotional and informational support for the family including connecting with community programs and other perinatal professionals if requested. She also will help keep the household running smoothly by providing assistance with light household chores, meal preparation, laundry and sibling care. She encourages parents to trust their instincts and protects the "babymoon" period as an extended part of the birthing process.
Your partner is not only present at the baby’s birth to support you but also to witness the birth of the new member of your family. This is a momentous event for your partner and can be quite overwhelming. A doula can support your partner so that the moment of becoming a parent can be fully experienced and not overshadowed by exhaustion and anxiety about the labouring mother. A doula in no way takes the place of your birth partner, or should in any way interfere with their role. A doula enhances the role of your birth partner by providing guidance to you both. A doula’s touch, words, suggestions and helping hands act as a guide to your partner. In a long or difficult labour a doula and a birth partner work together to give you the utmost care. On a basic level a doula can get you water, warm a blanket, or rub your feet while your partner holds your hand, breathes with you and keeps eye contact. Current research has shown that women express greater satisfaction with their birth experience and an enhanced relationship with their partner when a doula has been present.*
*Source: Kennel JH, Klaus MH, McGrath SK, Robertson S. Hinkley C. Continuous emotional support during labour in a US hospital: a randomized controlled trial, JAMA, 265:2197-2201, 1991.
I charge $650 for birth doula services. This includes a free initial consultation, a minimum of two prenatal visits, phone and email access from the time a client hires me until 4 weeks postpartum, 24/7 on-call 2 weeks prior and 2 weeks post EDD, a back-up doula and at least two postpartum visits (including breastfeeding support). I offer additional services as a postpartum doula at a rate of $25/hr ($20 for previous clients). I also accept clients who have been referred from the low-cost doula program at Mothering Touch and am flexible with payment to try to help families within their budget.
Yes, Doulas work with both doctors and midwives. Some health care providers may be more eager to work with doulas than others. Talk to yours, and ask how he or she feels about doula support. If they don’t appear to keen, you may want to ask a few more questions to ensure that they are still the right practitioner for you! I am happy to attend a prenatal appointment with you to meet your doctor or midwife and explain the role I play in the care team.
Incorrect. Doulas attend births at either home or in the hospital. If you would like to have a home birth, you will need to be screened by your health care provider to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for this option. I support you, in whatever you decide, even if you change your mind up until the last moment..I will befriend your giant Labradoodle, do my best to learn which flavour of popsicle is your favourite, how to use your stereo system and keep well-meaning relatives at bay. If you would like to have a hospital birth, I support you. I will ride up on my Yamaha Scooter, all 49 cc's blazing. I will show your partner how to endear themselves to the nursing staff so you get the least deflated yoga ball, where the extra basins are kept, and walk with you down the long, white hallways, (in those super attractive hospital gowns and housecoats, pausing of course to have some contractions along the way.) Put simply, I am for whichever setting you are comfortable and prepared to give birth in.
The way I can help is by providing you with as many alternatives and physical comfort measures as possible. Also, we can work on visualization and skills to keep your mind calm and strong. I advocate for my clients by empowering them to advocate for themselves. They are the client, and I am there to support their decisions and provide them with information in a calm, neutral, un-biased way. There are some situations where for one reason or another, a labouring mother may need me to be a more "vocal" support, in which case I may speak up if there are questions unanswered, or wishes being "forgotten". It is not beneficial for me or the client if my advocating alienates me from the rest of the birth team or family members. It's like being a superhero with a special power, but every time you use it you run the risk of some grave unknown consequence. So, I use this power sparingly, and with great care and thought.
I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about pain management, and what their preferences or plans are. I am not the doula who is cursing you quietly in the corner as you get an epidural. In fact, I have been the doula who talks you through your contraction and holds you tightly and says "You're a rock star" as the anaesthetist places the epidural. However, all pain medications have side effects and possible risks, part of my job is to ensure that when a client decides to use medication for pain management that she has made this decision with the utmost confidence that she has had enough information and time to make this decision. With non-medicinal pain management techniques, I am more than happy to use all of the techniques and tools that I have in my arsenal to help a mom cope with labour pains. I am also supportive of her choice to employ alternative therapies or practitioners, such as acupuncture, naturopathy or hypnosis (provided by qualified practitioners).
In fact, I get this question or comment very often. We have one of the highest cesarean section rates in the country at Victoria General Hospital (where you will deliver in Victoria if you aren’t having a home birth), so it is possible that you may have a cesarean delivery. If this is the case, yes, I still strongly feel that having doula support is worthwhile, if not more store. A cesearean birth can have many unexpected complications for the family; physically, emotionally, as well as implications for the baby. A doula can help explain some of the things to expect and procedures that might be taking place that the doctors and nurses might not have time to explain. Certain things like breastfeeding and mother-infant bonding can be more difficult following a cesarean birth, as a doula I can be there to provide you support and guidance during this time. if a mother requests me to be with her during a cesarean, I may act as her "plus one". However, at VGH, you are not allowed a doula and a partner or other family member, you must choose. I would support a woman during a cesarean by providing her with information and by being a calm, reassuring presence. I would give her updates and explain anything about the procedure that I could, or elaborate on things the doctors are doing (within reason/if asked). I would take photographs or perform any other tasks within my scope as a doula that my client requested.
Yes, I often support more than one family at a time. Despite my best efforts to schedule the arrivals of new babies like International flights, babies arrive on the own timetable! I like to be fully engaged and able to focus on each mom in their time of greatest need and therefore I try to restrict myself to two birth clients per month. client per month. I make every effort to ensure I can be there for a family when labour begins (or shortly thereafter), and am continuously present during their entire labour and delivery. One of the ways I do this is through technology! I am a smart phone junkie, and keep my phone with me at all times, especially when I have a client who is nearing her due date. I also work with a back up doula, who is aware of my upcoming births and is available during those times and can fill in for me...just in case!
The first few days with a newborn are for you and your family to bond. This is a very special time. I will do my utmost to ensure you are supported and respected to have this time to do what you need to do. I encourage my clients to take advantage of this time to rest, establish effective breastfeeding, rest, bond, rest, stare at your new baby, did I mention rest?! You will most likely be bombarded with visitors soon, from dear friends, to your great-aunt Martha. It's important to recognize that you have just been through a major life experience and you may be feeling, well, quite a lot of feelings!. I will strongly advise to my clients to restrict visitors in those early days, especially after a difficult birth, or during flu season! Your family and friends will understand if you delay their visit, and if they don't...well...it's not your problem! You've got other priorities besides their happiness!
Getting breastfeeding off to a good start is crucial. It's not one of these things where you can "pick it up later", It's not a college course, you can't wait until the first midterm and then go running to the TA for help during every one of their office hours until the final exam and pray that you can pass the course! No, with breastfeeding, if you are having any difficulties or concerns, or PAIN, it is ALWAYS best to nip it in the...er, nip! Know your resources, who you can go to for help, and don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for the support you need! Whether it's calling or e-mailing your doula to ask about pumping, making an appointment with your local public health unit for a breastfeeding assessment or researching nipple cream, just do it! I am always willing to help a mom with breastfeeding challenges or concerns, and can usually assess whether or not the issue is within my scope. If it falls outside of my scope or level of expertise I am very comfortable with contacting your health care provider (or encouraging you to do so) or consulting with a colleague or public health nurse to see if we can come up with some possible solutions.
Each doula practices a little differently, but generally a doula’s care includes:
A doula is also available to answer any question over the phone throughout your pregnancy and postpartum.
This varies widely, so check with your doula or their certifying body if they have one (see Resources for specific certifying agencies). Training and/or certification may include:
Many doulas also have other training and experience in fields such as: childbirth education, breastfeeding counselling, massage, nutrition, birth art, accupuncture, herbalism, aromatherapy and/or complementary therapies. These areas are NOT covered in the doula training itself. Make sure you ask your doula about her qualifications for any other services she may provide to you.
No, in BC doulas practice privately, hired directly by clients. The fee for a labour doula in Greater Victoria ranges from approximately $500-$800 or more. This fee scale is entirely dependant on the individual doula, her years of experience and other skills and complementary therapies she brings to her clients. New doulas may offer clients a lower fee or no fee, but clients can help by covering the doula's out-of-pocket expenses including parking at the hospital and child care fees if applicable.
The fee for a postpartum doula can be up to $25/hr. This fee depends on the individual doula, her experience and also the type of postpartum work she is being asked to do. Breastfeeding counselling is an example of a professional service offered by a doula that may come at a higher fee than in-home doula services. The postpartum doula may also offer package fees for a set schedule of home care.
You may want to interview several doulas before making your choice. Doulas are professionals who believe in a woman’s right to choose her caregivers. The doulas you interview will be pleased to know that you are making a careful choice and looking for the doula who is right for you and your family. On the other hand, you should use your intuition and if you know that you have found the right one – by all means stop looking (pregnancy is a busy enough time as it is).
Certifying bodies such as CAPPA and DONA provide detailed information on doulas. See also the Resources section of this site. Call any of the doulas listed on this site and they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Everything?! Seriously. I live for this. I love getting questions on Facebook about prenatal yoga, ultrasounds, or nutrition. I love when I hear my special "birth client" ringtone coming from my phone. I love giving hand and foot massages with essential oils. I love encouraging and coaching women and their partners through the amazing miracle, known as birth. I love being one of the first people to meet your new little baby. I love talking with families about what they remember about the birth experience. I love the look on a mother's face when her baby latches on her breast for the first time. I love seeing how these little babies grow up to be such loved, adorable, thriving little people! I love it all.