Doulas are awesome and amazing magical women scattered throughout the world quietly going about the business of supporting women to plan and experience a positive birth.
A common misconception is that a doula only attends home-births but as doulas are concerned with empowering women they usually attend all types of birth, home-birth, hospital birth, elective c-section and any others.
There are different types of doula roles, this post is about birth doulas.
How do I hire a doula?
If you are in the U.K. you can go to Doula U.K. and search Doula profiles to find one that is in or willing to travel to your location. Lots of doulas are willing to travel. You can view doula profiles and see if there is anyone in particular you think you would get along with before making initial enquiries.
Get asking around, sometimes word of mouth recommendations come from where you least expect them.
What Does a Doula do Practically?
- Ante natal support & information.
- Opens space for any questions birth partners may have in confidence.
- Provides time to just talk/think about baby as a family (especially useful if 2nd or more baby)
- Be on call (usually) 2 weeks before & after due date.
- Attend in birth however you need. Can make drinks, set birth space, words of affirmation, support birth partner, massage.
- More likely to be aware of your birth plan & wishes and gently encourage everyone to follow it.
- Post natal visit. Debrief about birth.
- Post natal care visits to help with caring for baby if pre-arranged.
How Much Does it Cost?
On average from £400+ can expect up to £1,000. Depends on location, (London prices likely to be higher for example) services offered, (a doula may include things like book buying or mileage in their costs) and the individual. Being a doula is a vocation but for the majority, it is also their business and you can expect to find a wide variation in how people price the skills and support they offer.
One thing is for certain though, you may expect them to be clear about their cost from the outset so you are able to make a good decision. Some doulas are happy to split the cost into payments over the pregnancy some prefer upfront payment, as long as it is clear. Be sure to check what you are agreeing to before signing the contract between you and your doula and that you are happy with what is being agreed upon regarding services and pricing, and when payment is due.
How Will I Know Which Doula to Choose?
Meet a couple and then decide taking all factors into account. All good doulas would expect you to do this to see who you connect with and will be used to inital meetings with prospective clients. They are in it to support birth not to make excess cash so want you to be comfortable with them.
Jot down some ideas before your first meeting of what you think would be some of the most important things to happen at your birth. Would you like a calm and peaceful atmosphere, where would you like to give birth, what kind of things may help to make you feel safe and in control. A good ice breaker is to talk about why you sought a doula.
What a Doula Isn’t.
A medical professional. A doula is there in a supportive capacity. Even if they happen to have a medical background, the support of a doula cannot replace the advice and expertise of a qualified midwife.
Infallible! Most doulas will stay with you throughout your labour and birth but doulas also have their own families and commitments. Check your doula has a contingency plan in place should she not be able to attend you due to emergency or illness. A lot of doulas on the doula UK website know each other locally and will ‘back-up’ for one another in this (uncommon) instance.
I would really recommend seeking out a doula to support you in birth, whatever type of birth you would like to plan for yourself. Before the birth the cost of a doula seems expensive, after the birth it doesn’t seem anywhere near enough.