FAQ's about Doulas
What is a Birth Doula?
A Birth Doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother and her partner before, during and just after birth. A Birth Doula recognizes that birth is a key experience the mother will remember all her life. She understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of women in labour. She will assist the mother to prepare for her birth, join her when needed in labour and stay with her until after the baby is born.
The Doula provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint. She can help facilitate communication between the laboring mother and her partner, other support, and medical caregivers. These skills have been shown to make a true difference in the experience of birth, decreasing interventions and increasing maternal satisfaction with her birth. Doulas encourage and support the woman’s partner to participate in the birth at his/her own comfort level. She makes appropriate referrals when necessary.
What is a Postpartum Doula?
A Postpartum Doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides education, companionship and non-judgmental support during the early weeks of baby’s life. She assists with newborn care, family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tidying. She offers evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents.
Postpartum doula support helps ease the transition into a new family, improves parental satisfaction and reduces the risk of postpartum mood disorders. The Doula makes appropriate referrals when necessary.
Why do people hire doulas?
Families hire a doula for many reasons. Often it is because they want a guide to help them with this new adventure.
Someone who has suggestions and experience as to the variety of ways that birth can flow.
Many repeat clients hire a doula because they love how confident and cared for it makes them feel.
Other families have a partner who works away; having a doula eases the fear that
Mom may end up with no support.
What does “Doula” mean?
Doula is a Greek word that means “to serve” or “to mother a mother”. Essentially a doula supports a labouring woman emotionally, physically, holistically – all encompassing emotional care, much like that of a mother.
What does a doula do?
A doula is a woman who provides continuous physical and emotional support to a mother and her partner before, during and after childbirth. A doula serves by supporting, reassuring, making suggestions, and being a continuous presence during labour. A doula helps a mother find tools to make the best decisions for her own unique birth. A doula is hired by a mother and works only for her and her partner, not a hospital or caregiver.
A doula DOES NOT perform any medical procedures or clinical tasks. A doula’s job is to provide comfort, support, information, referrals and advocacy. A doula does not make decisions for you. Rather, she will help you get to the information you need to make an informed decision. Doulas do not speak for you. A doula will encourage you and your partner to voice your needs and concerns.
How is a doula certified and/or trained?
There are a variety of ways a doula can be trained and certified. However, there is no legislated controls on this currently. When interviewing a doula, ask about her training, experience, and philosophy. Ask how and why she is certified/trained or why not.
What might doula support include?
Each doula is responsible for her own support package. So, this is a great interview question when hiring your doula. Typically doulas offer 1-3 prenatal visits to get to know each other, to provide some labour and birth plan education, to offer referrals, and to answer questions. A doula will attend your birth sometime before truly active labour and she will stay with you until your baby has initiated feeding. She will then support you in the postpartum period with breastfeeding, light household tasks, emotional processing of your birth and more. Again, she will provide 1-3 visits based on her package and your needs.
What are comfort techniques?
These are a doulas secret weapon! She can bring comforting touch, comforting
words and a variety of comforting tools to your birth. A mama who is feeling well
supported and cared for when she arrives at active labour is going to deal with the
intensity of her contractions much better than a mama who arrives at active labour
feeling unsupported, fearful or weepy. Some comfort techniques include positive
mantras, humour, distraction, double hip squeeze, a variety of massage techniques,
use of positions and activity, use of showers, baths (when appropriate), candlelight,
What is a TENS machine?
A TENS machine is a small handheld device that attaches to 4 electrodes which in turn attach to a the birthing woman’s back. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. These impulses work in three different ways. They provide continuous sensation, which helps to increase endorphin flow increasing mom’s sense of well-being and building mom’s ability to deal with contractions. Second, they prevent some of the pain sensation from reaching the brain. And third, the mother controls the TENS unit so it acts as a distraction and a reminder that a contraction is ending and she can rest now. Most doulas charge a small additional amount for this rental to keep up with supply and maintenance costs. Ask your doula if she has one.
What are the benefits?
Doula support is widely recognized as beneficial. There is EVIDENCE that doula support is beneficial. Women who hire doulas feel better about their births, their choices, and their experiences. Additionally, we see significantly lower intervention and c-section rates with moms who hire doulas. Doulas play a key role in empowering women to feel strong and proud of their bodies, themselves, and their powerful ability to influence the life they have brought into the world.
How much does having a doula cost?
Many doulas in Kelowna charge between $500-$1500. This often includes all the prenatal, postpartum, and labour support plus all the on-call time and phone/text support. In small towns, fees can be lower but, depending on location, it may be hard to find a doula. If you or your partner are of Aboriginal descent in BC, you will likely qualify for the Doulas for Aboriginals Grant which will cover up to $1000 per birth support package.
What is a postpartum doula and how much do they cost?
A postpartum doula is any doula who is specifically hired for extra support in the postpartum period. The postpartum doula continues working to support mom and her partner for additional negotiated hours that extend beyond those initial postpartum visits. She may do more light household tasks (however, she is not your cleaner). She may help integrate families in households with older children. She may work to support families with a multiples birth. Talk to your doula about your greatest needs at this time and what a postpartum package may look like for your family. Most doulas in Kelowna charge $25-30 per hour, some with discounts for larger packages.