Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a doula?
A: A doula is a professional support person for birth and/or postpartum. Doulas receive special training through certification programs or have comparable or exceeding experience in the field of childbirth and/or newborn care. A doula’s responsibility is to provide emotional, physical and informational support to the mother and her family. Studies have proven that mothers and couples who incorporated doulas into their births experienced shorter labors and reduced interventions and that women who received the support of a postpartum doula have greater breastfeeding success, greater self-confidence, less postpartum depression and a lower incidence of abuse than those who do not.
Q: What are the duties of a doula?
A: Birth doulas provide a variety of services throughout labor; the primary focus being on comforting and supporting the laboring mother. Each birth experience is unique and every mother and partner has individual needs; therefore, the duties of the doula vary depending on the client. The doula’s role typically entails advising on positioning and techniques to support and encourage the labor process, assistance with physical needs, massage, and informational “back-up”, as well as providing diplomatic advocacy for the laboring mother and partner with medical personnel. Coming into the home during the fourth trimester following birth, the postpartum doula’s role is to provide education, non-judgmental support and companionship, and to assist with newborn care and family adjustment, meal preparation and light household tasks. Postpartum doulas offer evidence-based information on infant feeding, emotional and physical recovery from birth, infant soothing and coping skills for new parents and can make appropriate referrals when necessary.
Q: What duties can’t doulas perform?
A: Birth Doulas specialize in non-medical skills, and do not perform clinical tasks, or diagnose medical conditions. A birth doula is not hired as a doctor or a midwife and therefore cannot offer medical advice, nor deliver a baby. Our birth doulas believe that the mother benefits from a smooth and professional relationship between the doula and the care providers. We make every attempt to fulfill the wishes of a client’s birth plan, however we recognize and respect the authority of the care provider, and will not enter into an adversarial situation with medical staff. (A doula can ask medical staff for clarification or specific reasons on the client’s behalf if requested to do so.) Doulas do not make decisions for their clients. Their goal is to provide the support and information needed to help the birthing mother have a safe and satisfying birth as the mother defines it. For new parents common challenges are numerous including recovering from their birth experience; adjusting to total responsibility for a tiny dependent newborn; sleeplessness and mastery of infant feeding and care. Postpartum doulas provide families with ongoing support in their home and aid parents in making the best possible choices for their newborn infants.
Q: What types of births do doulas attend?
A: Birth doulas attend home births and hospital births; medicated births and unmedicated births, with women whose care is being overseen by doctors or midwives. Doulas may be the only support person for the mother, or may be part of a labor support team including mom’s partner, friend(s), and/or family members.
Q: How much do doula services cost?
A: How much a doula charges for her services depends on these four factors: how much training/education she has (as a doula, or related training, such as nursing, massage, or social work), how much experience she has, what other doulas are charging in her area, and what her income needs are.
The amount can vary substantially, according to the person, experience and range of “extra services” offered. In the Miami-Dade area, the range can be anywhere from $400 to $1,800 or more for the services of a birth/labor doula and $20-$50 per hour or more for the services of a postpartum doula.
Q: How do we hire a doula?
A: We offer free "All About Doulas" classes to enable interested families to meet our staff of doulas. We suggest prospective clients interview several candidates to find a doula with a personality and philosophy that meets their needs. It is a good idea to begin the process of selecting a doula early in the second trimester, as popular doulas tend to get reserved far in advance even in a service as large as ours. The sooner you begin the process, the more likely you are to find a good match! Good interview questions consist of asking the candidate for background on their training and experience, inquiring about their personal philosophy of the role of a doula, and requiring several references from former clients and providers. Once you hire one of our doulas, you will typically be required to pay a 50% non-refundable deposit, to hold the time surrounding your estimated due date. Payment is full is required by the 34th week of pregnancy.
Research shows doulas make a difference...
If you’re pregnant and hoping to have a childbirth with minimal interventions, you may be wondering if you should have a doula attend your birth. A Cochrane review updated in 2012 compiled data from 22 trials of 15,000 women whose birth experiences included women who had different kinds of continuous support during labor or none at all.
The results? Women who had continuous support, especially from a doula, were more likely to have spontaneous vaginal births and less likely to have any pain medication, epidurals, vacuum or forceps-assisted births, C-sections, or negative feelings about childbirth.