Some questions about doulas come up frequently. So if you’re wondering something it may well be so are lots of people. Here are some answers we hope will help but if your question isn’t answered here then please do use our contact page to get in touch and ask.
I have a birth partner what extra will a doula add to my birth?
Your doula will support both you and your birth partner. Doulas are happy working with, husbands, mothers, friends, sisters life partners, anyone that the birthing woman wants to be with her also. Doulas respect and support and encourage the very special an unique bond between a woman and her chosen birth partners. We help women to communicate what their fears and hopes are for the birth with their birth partner in the antenatal sessions and we help birth partners talk through their own concerns and find answers to the questions they have so that by the time labour starts both the labouring woman and her partner feel confident and happy they know the plan and how they want to react to different situations that may arise. During the labour having the doula as well as the birth partner usually makes the birth partner feel more relaxed and more confident and allows them to support the labouring woman in the ways that she wants them to and feel confident and happy, they are being useful. Practically there’s plenty for both to do and they can work together and give each other a break so the labouring mum always has someone fresh and smiling right by her side.
Will my doula take over from my husband?
Doulas don’t ever take over from husbands unless they are specifically asked to do so. If a couple chooses for the husband not to be at the birth for any reason then a doula can be there as a sole birth partner but she will always support a dad to be as involved as he really wants to be in every part of the birth. She will help him to feel more confident and to enjoy the labour just as she will help the birthing woman to know her own power and feel confident in her ability to birth.
Are doulas the same as midwives?
No midwives are health professionals they are responsible for ensuring the health of both mother and baby as the labour and birth occurs and in the antenatal and postnatal periods. They have many similar qualities of caring for and supporting women but doulas never take any medical tasks or any medical responsibilities they are only there for emotional and practical support.
I’m a single mum can a doula support me too?
Absolutely yes. If you’re a single mum a doula may be exactly what you need to feel confident and supported as you make your own informed choices and go through your labour and birth. Your doula will be happy to work alongside any other friend or family member you would also like at the birth or to be your sole birth partner if that’s your choice.
How much will a doula cost?
From the Doula UK website “A birth doula usually charges a fixed price for a birth doula support package. Exactly what this includes will vary from doula to doula. Expenses and mileage may be included in this package fee or may be invoiced later.
A Doula UK Recognised birth doula, with a fairly typical birth doula support package, will usually charge in the £600-£2000 range, depending on the area they work in, their level of experience, what they include in the fee and what they feel their service is worth.
A Doula UK Mentored birth doula will usually charge in the £200-£450 range.
A deposit (retainer fee) is usually required on booking with a birth doula.”
In Hampshire, most doulas charge between £400 and £1500 for a birth package depending on the area, experience and other skills. Postnatal doulas usually charge by the hour, generally somewhere between £15-25 per hour.
A wise person once suggested families look at the day of their baby’s birth like they would look at a wedding day, something that’s worth saving up for in order to have the best possible day. You will remember the day your baby is born vividly for the rest of your life it’s worth investing in making that a positive memory. But if you’re worried you can’t afford a doula then please do get in touch with a few and explain your circumstances often things can be worked out, such as with payment plans. Also did you know you can ask friends and family who want to buy you a gift for doula vouchers? In some circumstances, you can also apply for the doula UK doula access fund.
I’m doing antenatal classes that’s basically the same, isn’t it?
There are many brilliant antenatal classes available in Hampshire and they can be great for giving you tools to work with your contractions and for meeting other new parents but you can’t take the whole class with you on the day like you can take a doula with you. Your doula will support you to put into practice the things you have learned in an antenatal class and brings the experience of how to effect that same calm atmosphere in the very different surroundings of the hospital or birth centre. On the day your doula will help you and your partner remember your birth choices and stay calm even if circumstances change. It’s impossible to cover everything that may or may not happen in the course of a labour in antenatal classes but even if things you haven’t thought of come up on the day you will have someone with you who knows how to ask questions to help you get all the information you need to make any new decisions and having your doula supporting you will help you state your choices confidently and help your caregivers understand how to support you best.
How often will my doula visit me antenatally and postnatally?
Most doulas will meet with clients at least twice before the birth and often more times and then at least once after the birth as part of their basic birth package. But it’s not really about a specific number of hours it’s about how well your doula gets to know you and understand you and about how comfortable you come to feel with her. Your doula will spend time chatting with you on the phone and emailing or texting with you when you have questions between appointments so there are lots of ways she will get to know and understand you before the birth and support you after the birth.
How soon will my doula be with me once labour has started?
As soon as you want your doula to be there she will join you. In the early stages of labour your doula may encourage you to rest and sleep as much as possible and she may offer to give you and your partner private time to snuggle and relax together but that’s because she knows the less you are disturbed and the less you feel observed the easier your body will find it to go into the established part of your labour. As soon as you feel you need support you just need to say to your doula you need her and she will be with you and stay with you.
How long for will my doula stay with me after the birth?
Again this is best answered by you, your doula will stay as long as you continue to want her to. If you’re having your baby in the hospital she may be asked to leave when you go to the postnatal ward if it’s not visiting hours but other than that she will stay through all of the time after your baby is born while you have skin to skin and feed your baby for the first time. She will help you shower etc if you would like her to and she will support you through any stitches you may need etc.
Will a doula support me if my decision would be a planned caesarian birth?
Yes, doulas support all births. If you’re planning a caesarian your doula will help you to have all the information so you’re sure you’ve made an informed decision and will help you to make a caesarian birth plan and support you to ensure your doctor can support your choices. On the day your doula will help you to remain calm and focused as you wait for your turn in the operating theatre and will go into theatre for you if there is no one else you want there. She will help you to have skin to skin and learn to feed your baby after baby arrives.
Want to know more about what it’s like to have a doula support your planned c-section? Check out this interview.
What is my doula’s role if baby arrives before midwife attends (home birth)?
Doulas will always do their best to make sure that a midwife is called at just the right time to arrive at the point of labour that the labouring mum wants them there but occasionally baby’s take everyone by surprise and arrive much quicker than expected before a midwife can make it. In this circumstance, your doula will call or will encourage your birth partner to call the emergency services who probably won’t be needed but who are handy to have available just in case (and when they arrive she will help encourage them to be quiet gentle and respectful of the home birth atmosphere). If your baby arrives even before emergency services your doula will support and encourage you or your partner as you catch your own baby. She will never take any medical responsibilities and can’t replace the midwife but she can help you feel calm if you find yourself giving birth before medical support arrives.
If you want to choose a ‘free birth’ where you deliberately choose to birth without medical attendants some doulas will be willing and able to support you but they will continue to just offer practical and emotional support and won’t ever take on the role of a midwife under any circumstances.