Frequently Asked Questions
Updated: Dec 1, 2020
Is a doula the same thing as a midwife?
Often times when I talk with others about being a doula, I sense a bit of confusion. I’ve also had friends comment things like, “I can’t wait for you to deliver my baby someday!" That’s when I kindly explain to them the difference between a doula and a midwife.
I often refer to this explanation given by Del Mar Birth Center:
"Doulas do not replace nurses or medical staff such as midwives or doctors. Doulas do not perform clinical or medical tasks such as assessing blood pressure or temperature, monitoring fetal heart rate, doing vaginal examinations or providing postpartum clinical care. Doulas are present to comfort and support the mother, and to enhance communication between the mother and medical professionals. Doulas can be a tremendous source of emotional support, encouragement and wisdom throughout labor and birth. During labor, your doula can use different techniques such as massage and different labor positions to help you through delivery. During the postpartum period, your doula can help with caring for an infant, breastfeeding, and healing after childbirth.”
How is a doula different from having the help of my partner, mother, sister or best friend?
A doula is hired to offer you nonjudgmental, informed information and support. As a doula, I am not drawing from my own personal birth experience, but drawing experience from my training and education. A friend may only have experience from her unmediated water birth. A doula knows about all types of birth and labor outcomes and how to support you and advocate in an unbiased, informed fashion. While I have serious care for you as my client, as your doula I must first be pragmatic before emotional. Your mother, sister or best friend are an important part of your birth team and a doula can never replace the support you receive from them. Your doula will work with your loved ones to help better support you. On top of that, your doula is there to support not only you, but your partner/friends/family members as well. Check out this image from Nashville Doula Services showing the difference between doula/partner help and how a doula can help a partner.
I'm not very holistic or "crunchy", can I still benefit from having a doula?
I appreciate western medicine as much as I do holistic health and healing. As a doula, it’s important to present to a client the pros and cons of both and be prepared for different outcomes. Hospitals and doctor's appointments used to terrify me and send me into an anxious spiral. Through volunteering in the labor and delivery unit and spending more time in hospital settings, I've since gotten over that fear; and feel comfortable supporting others who may have "white coat syndrome". However, I've also spent time in birth centers and really appreciate the extra steps they take to make the environment feel more warm and less sterile. I may be a good fit for you if you are looking for a doula who appreciates the use of holistic resources but understands the importance of western medicine when necessary. This also means I can support you through an epidural or cesarean section.
When should I hire a doula?
I'd recommend hiring a doula once you've shared with friends and family that you are expecting. This allows ample time to get to know one another, create a birth plan, have prenatal appointments and prepare for labor. A doula can be a tremendous help in early pregnancy to help you navigate through what to buy/skip, classes to attend, etc. It’s never too early or too late to hire, but it’s important if you want a doula to secure one sooner than later due to the fact they may already be booked by the time you’d like to hire. Just because you hire, doesn't mean you have to hit the ground running within that first week. The price will be the same whether you hire at 13 weeks, or 31 weeks!
What comfort measures will you utilize with me?
I'm not sure! We'll see once you're actually in labor. What works for one person, doesn't work for the next person. You may not even consider your labor to be painful! I've done hip squeezes on someone for hours, or I've been hired to just be another set of adult hands and eyes in the room. Rest assured- we will go over all comfort measure and coping techniques in our prenatal appointments so you and your partner (if applicable) will be well equipped and familiar with any technique I use.
How many births have you been to?
When I started out as a brand new doula, I was insecure about this question. I couldn't wait until I was able to answer this question and say "20, 30, x y z whatever the golden number is." Until I realized, there is no golden number. I've been a full time doula since July 2019 and have 2-3 birth clients a month. The number of births I've attended doesn't really matter to me. I don't keep a tally in my head. Your birth is just that- YOURS. I am not going to compare your birth to another clients, and so on. When I enter your birth space, while I am utilizing what I've learned throughout the years, I am also approaching it as it's own unique, individual moment. What worked at the birth last week may not work in this space. If you meet a doula who has been to over 100 births, but has a personality you don't click with- it's not going to work. I advise everyone seeking doula support to remember that this is a interpersonal relationship, and while experience matters, what matters most is how that person makes you feel and how that will translate into your birth space.