Are you considering hiring a labor coach or doula? Read how a doula can help you and the major benefits of having a knowledgable labor coach on-call throughout your pregnancy and during labor & delivery. Where to find a doula, what to expect to pay a doula, & bonus questions and interview form for interviewing doulas.
Do You Know the Benefits of Hiring a Doula? Let’s Chat!
If you are pregnant and into your second trimester, you might have heard the words labor coach or Doula tossed around at your doctor’s appointnments, in pregnancy books you’re scouring or maybe your best friend won’t stop raving about hers.
When I was pregnant those two terms – labor coach and doula – were completely foreign to me. I had no idea what I would need a labor coach for, or how they could help during labor and delivery. If you’re in the same boat as I was in, I have some answers for you!
I’m going to help break things down so you fully understand what a doula does, why you might find it beneficial during your pregnancy, and I’ll list out the benefits so you can make an informed choice if hiring a labor coach is the right step for you.
The most important thing is to take your time, become knowledgeable and then if you chose to move forward, interview potential doulas until you find the right fit.
Having a labor coach by your side in pregnancy, and during labor & delivery, could be a great relief and then even afterwards, offering support and knowledge once your baby is here.
So let’s get down to the details of what a doula / labor coach does so you can decide if it’s a good fit for you.
What is A Doula?
First off, let’s start with what a doula is!
A doula is someone who has had training as a labor coach and helps assist during labor and delivery. A doula in Greek, means, “a woman who serves.” Fitting, right? Doulas really offer you a wide variety of support tailored to what you personally need and want. They have a huge amount of knowledge of what is going on with your body during pregnancy, give you emotional support throughout pregnancy, and coach you through labor and delivery.
What Is The Difference Between A Midwife and Doula?
Some think a doula and a midwife are the same, but they are actually pretty different. So, let’s clear up the confusion.
A midwife is someone who is a trained medical professional, that has gone through clinical training and received certification. They can offer prenatal care, infant care, and help you create a birth plan and plans for postpartum care. When labor starts, a midwife generally comes to the hospital or your home if you opt for a home birth, stays with you and helps you transition through labor and delivery of your baby. A midwife will can assist or fully delivery your baby.
A doula is with you as soon as you hire them. So if you hire her at 15 weeks, she will be with you from 15 weeks until postpartum. She’s there to answer questions, help you prepare, prepping you for what to expect once your baby is here, helps you create a birth plan, and more. Doulas are trained in the process of pregnancy and childbirth and while they may not have medical training, they can offer you a variety of support which is very beneficial. With a doula, she is there to support the mom’s needs, and let the doctor handle delivering your baby.
So as you can see a midwife and doula are similar, but different.
The midwife can assist or fully deliver your baby while a doula takes care of you during your pregnancy and labor process, but does not deliver.
Doulas create more of that one-on-one emotional approach to pregnancy and labor and delivery, where a midwife is hands on but you won’t be working with them as much as a doula throughout your pregnancy.
7 Benefits of Having a Doula During Pregnancy, and Labor & Delivery
Let’s break down all the ways a doula or labor coach, can help you during your pregnancy and during labor. This will give you the big picture of what to expect if you decide to hire a doula. Each doula offers something different, so when you are in the process of interviewing doulas, be sure to act what their list of services include.
Your Personal Version of Siri…. Always There to Answer Questions
Doulas are highly trained and specialize in pregnancy and delivery, so their knowledge is outstanding.
For example, if you are experiencing pain in your hips that just won’t go away and are concerned, simply consult with your doula. She’ll be able to ease your fear something is wrong and go into detail about why you have the pain.
You can ask them questions about changes in your body, things you are concerned with, symptoms, reactions, or anything related to pregnancy, labor, delivery, postpartum care and the postpartum body, and also, anything related to a newborn baby.
Help You Create a Birth Plan
When the due date gets closer, you’ll be able to sit down with your doula and create a birth plan you are happy with and which meets all your birth preferences . This is a great perk, because if you are a first-time parent, you might not know all the options you have available to you. Some of the options epend on what your hospital offers, and an experienced double will be knowledgeable of what is available to help guide you through the ins and outs.
Doulas Know How to Make Pregnancy as Gentle as Possible
During your pregnancy, a doula can offer things to help make pregnancy easier for you. If you are struggling with getting enough water intake, they will give you a list of easy solutions to help you hydrate. They’ll help you find solutions to symptoms and test results whether you need more iron, protein in your diet, experience morning sickness, aren’t sure how to keep an exercise routine, or event what types of exercise are allowed. This will be your go-to-gal for all your questions!
She’s Your First Phone Call When You Begin Labor
Knowing when to head to the hospital, can be tricky and confusing. Even during my second pregnancy, I was unsure if I needed to head to the hospital or if it was real labor, this is when you call your doula! You can detail your experience, contractions, timing, and more so they can give you an expert’s opinion if it’s too early or actually time to head to the hospital. Is it Braxton hicks or the real deal? Get help figuring it out.
During Labor, Lean on your Doula
This is when you can really reap the amazing benefits of having a doula on your pregnancy team. Labor and delivery is a grueling experience for women, and if you have someone that can help you through it, this is a huge blessing.
Doulas help you with breathing technique, offer massage your back or legs to bring you support, encourage you, offer relaxation techniques and the list goes on. Just think of them as a pro for labor and delivery who have helped countless women through their pregnancies and labor.
A labor coach has a playbook of strategies you will benefit from in making your labor and delivery as peaceful and smooth as can be.
One-On-One Support System
Nothing compares to the one-on-one support you’ll receive from your doula. Not saying your OB and the staff won’t do their best to answer your questions and help, but their time is limited. Having a doula by your side throughout pregnancy and during labor and delivery, can be a huge asset. It can bring you peace, and help you to have a safer and more relaxed delivery.
Studies Show Using a Doula Makes Labor & Delivery Easier
Time and time again, you’ll hear how having a doula allows you to have a more relaxed and enjoyable pregnancy and delivery. The added support of having a professional only a call away, and whose there to help and reassure you, is a blessing. Also, remember, when mom is less stressed, so is baby and this can make labor and delivery smoother, even possibly a shorter labor, and less risk of a c-section.
According to Mothering the Mother, by Marshall Klaus, John Kennell and Phyllis Klaus, studies show that the physiological effects of support during labor reduces:
- length of labor by 25 percent
- use of analgesia by 35 percent
- Pitocin augmentation by 40 percent
- epidural anesthesia use by 60 percent
- chances of needing a c-section by 51 percent
- use of forceps and vacuum by 30 percent
Moms who choose to work with a doula have reported higher satisfaction during childbirth, fewer incidences of postpartum depression, increased self-esteem, better mother-infant interaction, improved postpartum care and more breastfeeding success.
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Do Dads Benefit From Doulas?
Some might think a doula will replace your partner’s role in labor and delivery if you use a doula, but that’s not the case. A doula will help offer support for the dad too and give him suggestions on how he can help. They might offer Dad to massage your back a special way, or have you take a certain position and let Mom lean on Dad to take off weight and bring you relief. Also, when he needs to go grab something to eat, he knows you aren’t alone and are taken care of.
Is A Doula Right For You?
Ultimately you have to be the one to decide if you a doula would be beneficial, or not. If you want more of an all natural birth without pain medications like an epidural, doulas can do their best to offer many tips for natural pain management. A doula is a great asset for you, so if you want the added support, I say go for it.
Most insurances will not cover paying for a doula, so this is an out of pocket expense. Depending on where you live and the extend of services you choose, pricing can range from $700 to $2,500, depending on experience and certification.
The final bill will depend on what your doula offers, where you live, and the price. It is worth calling your insurance and seeing if they will cover any or all of this service.
If you chose to hire a Doula or not, one thing I strongly recommend is looking into childbirth classes now, if you haven’t already. My friend Hilary, who is a veteran Labor & Delivery nurse created an awesome Online Childbirth Class you need to check out. Plus, she’s always available to answer any questions you have, a huge perk to her class!
Where to Find A Doula In Your Area
Start by asking your network of family and friends for referrals. Talk to you doctor. Ask your midwife. Find a Facebook group in your city and scope out the recommendations.
You can also use websites like dona.org or cappa.net to find certified doulas in your area to connect with.
Go through an interview process and pick one that you feel you really connect with. They will be with you through so much of your pregnancy and delivery you want to make sure you are very comfortable with them. Sometimes you fall in love with one of the first ones you meet, and other times it takes a few tries. There are so many doulas out there, I know you will find one that fits you and your needs.
I hope this helps give you an idea of what a doula does and how it can benefit you! I think they are a wonderful asset, and if you can afford one it might be worth having alongside your pregnancy, and labor & delivery journey.
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