Frequently Asked Questions about Doulas
Does the doula replace my partner?"
A doula DOES NOT replace the birthing mother's partner.
A doula's job is to "serve the laboring woman and her family"
never to replace a partner.
A doula, in fact, encourages more partner support, and even supports the partner through pregnancy and labor.
In labor, it can difficult for the woman's partner to cope with the intensity of labor.
In home or hospital, medicated or natural, labor is scary and beautiful, and often the partner is unable to focus solely on support, when they themselves are emotionally invested in mom and baby.
Labors can be long, or difficult, and are generally quite intense.
In these circumstances, doulas take some of the weight off of the woman's partner, offering them rest, support, and information.
A doula is there to remind the laboring woman's partner of techniques they may forget, or remind them of what things are normal.
A doula helps the woman and partner to remain calm, and often, many support techniques work best with more than one person, so the doula and the partner work together.
A doula can be a great support to the partner who cannot handle blood or vomit.
Will a doula try to push her ideals on me, or force me to have a natural birth?"
Absolutely not, a doula's job is to support YOUR ideal birth.
While a doula will provide evidence based information, and advocate for you in certain settings or circumstances, a doula's job is to help you have the pregnancy and birth that you desire.
A fulfilling, informed and supported experience is the doula's goal.
"I'm planning a hospital birth, will a doula still benefit me?"
Hospitals and procedures and policies can be a huge task to navigate.
Nurses and doctors are very busy, and don't have the resources to offer continuous support to laboring mothers. (Continuous support is a big part of what supports better birth outcomes)
Having a doula can help you prepare beforehand, with information on procedures, writing a birth plan, helping the nursing staff to understand your needs. She will walk with you through the experience, offering hands on skills and unwavering support throughout the length of your labor.
Your doula can help you advocate for yourself and your baby.
Your doula is your liaison and your servant in the hospital.
& Your doula works for YOU. Not for the hospital.
"Will the hospital staff allow me to have a doula present?"
Most providers, hospitals and birth centers, will absolutely allow you to have a doula present. Often the presence of a doula can make the job of the nursing staff easier.
Nurses, doctors and midwives are very busy, and having an advocate who understands birth can make process easier for everyone.
Doulas are not medical professionals. It is never the doula's job to speak for you, or to make decisions on your behalf.
A doula's job as an advocate and liaison, is to help you effectively communicate with the medical staff, understand what is taking place in your care, and to offer evidence based information, so that YOU and YOUR PARTNER may own your birth.
"Will a doula still benefit me if I am having a scheduled cesarean, or will be using an epidural?
Having a doula can still be of great benefit for a scheduled cesarean. A doula can help mom write a birth plan, encouraging a family centered cesarean, or gentle cesarean.
A doula can take pictures, or record the birth story.
After the procedure, the doula can remain with mom while the partner often accompanies the newborn to the nursery, help with breastfeeding, and remain with mom through recovery.
With an epidural, a doula can still be a huge benefit to the laboring mother.
Doulas are trained to support women under epidural anesthesia, with carefully supported position changes, to help keep labor progressing, and to support to the woman's hips, back, and body.
Also, doctors often offer an epidural after the onset of active labor (6 cm dilated).
The doula can be a great benefit to the laboring mother with pain management techniques up until she receives her epidural.
With an epidural as much as with an unmedicated labor, your doula is your servant. She does not want you to lift a finger outside of what is necessary for your to give birth to your baby. Everything else, we'll take care of.
"What should I look for in a doula?"
There are many different types of doulas.
Some doulas are certified, some are not.
Some doulas have many children, some doulas have none.
Some doulas work in home births more often than hospitals, and some doulas are very experienced in hospital settings.
Some important things to remember when hiring a doula are:
Do we connect on a comfortable level?
Birth is very intimate, and it is important that you and your partner feel comfortable, safe and connected with your doula.
Does the doula have a backup doula, in case of unforeseen circumstances?
Does the doula have the training or experience level I am comfortable with?
What is the doula's philosophy on pregnancy and birth?
Before hiring a doula, prepare a list of important questions for her. You will be interviewing the doula before you sign a contract and hire her, so take some time to discuss and explore what you are looking for in a doula, and in your birth experience.