The next agenda item for me is to get recommendations for a doula. I plan to use a doula's services for the birth of our baby and postpartum. I've done some preliminary research and hope to make a decision within the next four weeks.
A labor doula or birth doula is someone, often trained but not required, who provides non-medical and non-midwifery support (physical and emotional) to a woman leading up to and during her labor and delivery. A labor doula may attend a woman having a home birth or a woman laboring at home before transporting to a hospital or a birth center, where she will continue her support. They do not perform clinical duties such as heart rate checks or vaginal exams, or give medical advice. Labor doulas rely on techniques like massage and position changes to help women through labor. -Wikipedia
What does a birth doula do?
A birth doula is a NON-MEDICAL assistant who can help you with:
- childbirth education and local resources
- labor coping skills
- comfort measures for labor
- initial breastfeeding support
- natural ways to work with long or difficult labors
- vaginal birth after cesarean (V-BAC) support
What other things does a doula actually provide once hired?
- prenatal meeting(s)
- Being on call 24/7 until your labor begins
- Continuous labor support at your home and/or your birth site, during active labor & birth and immediately after birth
- A backup doula is arranged for you 24/7
- A postpartum meeting
- On-call phone support pre/post birth
What effect does the presence of a doula have on the mother?
When a doula is present during a birth, women report greater satisfaction with their birth experience, make more positive assessments of their babies, have fewer cesareans and medical interventions and suffer less postpartum depression.
Numerous clinical studies have found that the presence of a birth doula:
- tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
- reduces negative feelings about one's childbirth experience
- reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction
- reduces requests for pain medication & epidurals, as well as the incidence of cesareans
What effect does the presence of a doula have on the baby?
Studies show that babies born with doulas present have shorter hospital stays, fewer admissions to special care nurseries, breastfeed more easily, and have mothers that are more affectionate in the postpartum period.
What exactly does a postpartum doula do?
Listing exactly what a doula does is difficult because every family has its own needs that become clear after the baby arrives. Here are just some of the ways a doula might help your family:
- Help you master breastfeeding.
- Catch up on laundry.
- Prepare nourishing meals.
- Show you how to bathe and dress your baby.
- Educate you about baby's normal sleep patterns.
- Reassure you about your newborn's noises, behavior or appearance.
- Care for older siblings.
- Run errands.
- Pick up groceries or supplies.
- Handle phone calls and visitors.
- Share a list of local parenting resources.
- Provide referrals.
- Loan books, DVDs, and instructional materials.
What do families gain by hiring a postpartum doula?
First-time parents find that working with a doula quickly builds confidence in their parenting skills. Second-time- and-beyond parents find that a postpartum doula offers a set of capable, helpful hands, so they have time to focus on bonding with the new baby while maintaining the all-important connection to his/her older siblings.
What are the benefits of postpartum doula care?
A postpartum doula's job is to impart knowledge to you in a non-judgmental way. A postpartum doula can:
- Increase breastfeeding understanding and success.
- Build your confidence in your parenting skills.
- Answer questions and listen to your concerns about your baby.
- Provide referrals, when and if necessary.
- Offer emotional support.
- Reduce feelings of isolation thereby cutting down on the potential for postpartum depression.
Won't we be uncomfortable having a stranger in our home?
Clients who work with a postpartum doula report feeling cared for, nurtured in their new role, reassured and grateful for the calm, professional and unobtrusive support of a postpartum doula.
All information from Doulas of New Jersey here
Questions to Ask a Doula
The following questions will help you decide if a particular doula is right for you.
For any doula
- What training have you had? (If a doula is certified, you might consider checking with the organization.)
- Do you have one or more backup doulas for times when you are not available? May we meet her/them?
- What is your fee, what does it include and what are your refund policies?
When interviewing a birth doula
- Tell me about your experience as a birth doula.
- What is your philosophy about birth and supporting women and their partners through labor?
- May we meet to discuss our birth plans and the role you will play in supporting me through birth?
- May we call you with questions or concerns before and after the birth?
- When do you try to join women in labor? Do you come to our home or meet us at the place of birth?
- Do you meet with us after the birth to review the labor and answer questions?
When interviewing a postpartum doula
- Tell me about your experience as a postpartum doula.
- What is your philosophy about parenting and supporting women and their families during postpartum?
- May we meet to discuss our postpartum needs and the role you will play in supporting us in the postpartum period?
- May we call you with postpartum questions or concerns before the birth?
- When do your services begin after birth?
- What is your experience in breastfeeding support?
- Have you had a criminal background check, a recent TB test and current CPR certification?
Check credentials and references.
If the doula is a DONA International certified doula, you can confirm her certification by using our online doula locator. DONA International certification is a meaningful measure of a doula’s commitment and professionalism.
Conduct an in-person interview.
It is a good idea for both you and your partner to meet doula candidates to decide if they are compatible with your family. Are they kind, warm and enthusiastic? Are they knowledgeable? Do they communicate well? Are they good listeners? Are they comfortable with your choices or do they seem to have their own agenda? Do you feel at ease with them?
The way that you feel with a doula is more important than the number of births that they have attended or how many new families they have nurtured. You may want to interview more than one doula and make comparisons before choosing your doula.