Should I Hire a Doula?

There are a lot of decisions to make during pregnancy: doctor or midwife? Hospital, birth-center, or homebirth? What kind of childbirth class will you attend? Prepare for a drug-free birth, or embrace that epidural? Bradley? Lamaze? What about a doula?


Now, about half of you are probably asking what a doula is right now. It’s a profession that is growing in popularity, but many people still have not heard of it. A doula, from an ancient Greek word for maidservant, is not a medical professional. A doula is a support person for a laboring mother. She does not take the place of a midwife, the nurse, or of the labor partner(s). She is a unique part of the birth-team, and has many benefits, such as a decreased risk of an emergency C-section and increased satisfaction for the mother and her labor partner.

A doula is not only for women who want an un-medicated, vaginal birth. They can be very helpful in Cesarean births, epidural births, complicated births, and simple births.

  • Help the mother express her desires for the birth
  • Help keep the birth environment calm, allowing for a less complicated labor
  • Encourages the laboring woman to utilize positions and movements that are beneficial to a smooth labor
  • Use techniques such as movement, positioning, touch, soothing sounds, and aromatherapy to sooth and support the laboring woman
  • Assist the labor partner in supporting the laboring woman, sometimes by teaching the partner effective comfort techniques
  • Assist the labor simply by being present as part of the “birthing circle” which increases the Oxytocin flow in the laboring woman

A very experienced and wonderful doula once told me that a doula is the guardian of a family’s birth memories. She does her utmost to ensure that the birth is as gentle and loving as possible, regardless of the location or the type of birth, so that the parents can always look back on their child’s birth as a tremendously positive experience.

Doulas, like with any profession, are varied; if you want a doula, it is important to interview her first to see if you are compatible. Some doulas also cost more than others, although some are willing to work on a sliding scale. If cost is a factor, perhaps seek out a doula in training. Doulas who are still working to acquire their certifications are often willing to work at greatly reduced costs—sometimes even for free!

I loved my doula; she made my son’s birth even more special. What have your doula experiences been?

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