Q & A
What is the difference between a midwife and a birth doula?
A midwife’s role at births is to monitor both mother and baby for potential health problems, to catch the baby, and provide immediate postpartum care. A midwife can perform duties such as vaginal exams, suturing, blood pressure, heart rate, and overall evaluations of the health of the mother and baby, among other things. A midwife has had special training to attend births as a medical professional, as well as provide a level of emotional support. A doula does not catch the baby or perform any medical tasks. A doula cannot evaluate the mother or baby for health problems. Doulas are trained to provide a high level of emotional support. A midwife’s, doctor’s, or nurse’s priority is the physical health of the mother and baby, while a doula’s priority is the emotional health of the mother, her partner, and their baby. Doulas do not replace professional medical care.
Do I need a doula if I have a great midwife/doctor?
According to DONA:
Each person involved in the care of the laboring woman contributes to her emotional well-being. However, doctors, nurses and midwives are primarily responsible for the health and well-being of the mother and baby. Medical careproviders must assess the condition of the mother and fetus, diagnose and treat complications as they arise, and focus on a safe delivery of the baby. These priorities rightly take precedence over the non-medical psychosocial needs of laboring women. The doula helps ensure that these non-medical needs are met, while enhancing communication and understanding between the woman or couple and the staff. Many doctors, midwives and nurses appreciate the extra attention given to their patients and the greater satisfaction expressed by women who were assisted by a doula.
What doesn’t a doula do?
Perform clinical tasks, such as blood pressure, fetal heart checks, or vaginal exams. I am there to provide physical comfort and emotional support.
Make decisions for you. I will help you get the information necessary to make an informed decision. I will also remind you if there is a departure from your birth preferences.
Speak to the staff on your behalf. I will discuss your concerns with you and suggest options, but you or your partner will speak directly to the clinical staff about your preferences for the birth.
As your doula, what can I do for you at your birth?
Keep lights low, noise levels down
Make food for you and birth team
Keep you hydrated
Make you aware of deviations from your birth plan
Help you know when to change positions
Reassure you and reaffirm the progress you and your baby are making
Keep birthing room sacred by restricting visitors to only those invited
Encourage husband to be the source of strength that he is
How can I afford a doula? They’re so expensive!
Doula fees may seem high because it is an expense that is not anticipated. Many couples do not consider doula services until they are already pregnant and the birth is looming. When put in the perspective of other costs of having a baby, however, the investment is quite practical. Most parents will spend hundreds of dollars on baby furniture, carseats, clothing, bottles, cameras, diapers – sometimes even a bigger car or house! Every family needs support and encouragement before, during, and after labor and birth. Doula fees are quite reasonable when you break it down. You receive 4 in-home, completely personalized visits (2 prenatal, 2 postpartum) to discuss your needs and wishes for your birth and to help with breastfeeding or other postpartum needs. Not only is your doula available for questions and answers throughout the remainder of your pregnancy but she is also on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from two weeks before and after your due date. She will stay with you for the duration of your labor, throughout all hours of the day and night, no matter how long your labor lasts. Not even your doctor will do that!
If money is an issue a recent trend has been receiving money towards the purchase of your doula through baby showers thrown just for this purpose. I offer gift certificates for friends and family to purchase to help offset this birth expense.
Another option is using your health insurance or your HSA. Although whether your insurance will cover the expenses is unsure until paperwork is submitted, filed, and paid, many are finding their insurance will cover the expenses of a doula. Inquire with your agent to find out.
I currently am excepting Paypal and am also willing to work with families who would like to make payments or offer bartering. This is on an individual basis so please call me to see if we can work together.