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Birth & Postpartum Doula FAQ's - What To Know!

Doulas... what exactly are they? What exactly do they do? There are plenty of misconceptions about what a birth or postpartum doula is and their role. A lot of people hear “doula” and think of a crunchy, hippie who will only do home-births. But those couldn’t be more wrong! Doulas are dynamic and all different. Many birth doulas attend both home and hospital births, practice and educate clients using evidence-based information and come from all walks of life! I’ve come up with some of the most frequently asked questions for readers to help lessen the confusion, and help you decide if a birth or postpartum doula is right for you and your family!

What is a Doula?

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves”. Today, a birth doula provides continuous emotional, informational and physical support through pregnancy, labor and postpartum. We are there for you on a non-medical professional to provide encouragement, information and a variety of comfort measures to help you throughout the stages of labor. The ultimate goal for a birth doula is to see a woman and her support have a positive, safe and empowering birth experience! Postpartum Doulas assist with the massive transition that comes with parenthood. From breastfeeding & newborn education/support, meal prep, light household cleaning, soothing techniques, emotional support, resources and more... postpartum doulas cater to the unique needs of each family that they work wit

Why use a Birth Doula?

Women deserve calm, continuous reassurance, comfort and respect during their birth experience. With a doula you get individualized care and continuous encouragement, comfort and support towards the birth you want! Doulas often use positioning, touch and massage to reduce stress, discomfort and anxiety during labor. Numerous clinical studies have found that a doulas presence at birth tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications, less interventions, a greater success with breast-feeding and an overall feeling of a more positive birth!

Birth Doula providing physical comfort measures during labor.

Does a doula replace a dad or partner?

Absolutely not! Think of a doula as a birth coach. A doula doesn’t replace anyone, but she is another member of the birth team and supports everyone in their own role. A doula’s presence helps fathers or partners participate at a level they are comfortable with, demonstrates for them how and when to use various comfort measures, and can help provide information. Partners are often grateful to have a doula at the birth as they are someone with more experience allowing the partner to enjoy the birth experience more.

Is the doula the same as a midwife?

Nope! Though the two roles are commonly confused. A doula is a non-medical professional. It is not within the scope of a birth doula to monitor a pregnancy, labor or birth. Doulas are responsible for providing continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the laboring woman and her partner. They assist individuals to best advocate for themselves and make sure they have enough information to make decisions about their pregnancy & birth. Midwives (a.k.a birth rockstars!) are trained medical care professionals with expertise and skills in supporting women to maintain healthy pregnancies and have optimal births and recoveries during the postpartum period. Midwives and doulas compliment each others professional nicely and you should consider a combination for your pregnancy & birth!

Sarah Kent (CNM) supporting patients during labor *posted w/permission*

Can a doula help if a woman has an epidural?

Yes! A doula’s presence is helpful during every stage of labor…with or without pain medication. She will continue to care for the woman and her family, offering emotional, informational support and physical support. A Doulas role isn’t just the physical support they provide. Much of labor & birth is a mental journey for a woman, and a birth doula can offer so much to a laboring woman and her support partner.

Can a doula attend a c-section?

Yes, a doula can attend a C-section to support the mother. They can help clients understand options, develop a csection birth plan, provide emotional support and more! However, if a doula is allowed in the operating room is dependent on the doctors and hospital policies. If you believe you will have a c-section and want your doula present, start talking to your care provider about the option soon. If the doula is not allowed in the operating room, she can provide support & education for the new mother and partner in the pre-op, recovery and postpartum room.

Me waiting for my c-section to begin. Wishing my husband and I had somebody there to support us.

Does insurance cover a Birth Doula?

This isn’t a simple yes or no answer. More insurance companies are starting to cover birth doula services; some full coverage, others partial coverage. It is the responsibility of the policy holder to contact their insurance agency to inquire whether a birth doula is covered under their plan (don’t forget a doula may be covered by your HSA or FSA, too! Though you may need for your provider to fill our a Medical Necessity form). If they do (yay!), the insurance company should be able to provide you with claim paperwork necessary to file a claim after your birth. I always encourage clients to file a claim regardless of the outcome; it demonstrates a need to the company and hopefully push them to make beneficial changes to policies to cover such services in the future.

Hopefully some of this information has helped answer or clarify questions you may have had about doula support. Have more questions? Don't hesitate to reach out. I love educating people on my work, their options, and rights!


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