Frequently Asked Questions about Birth Doulas
What’s the difference between midwives and doulas?
A midwife is a medically trained care provider who can deliver your baby. Midwives go through intensive schooling and can deliver babies at hospitals, birth centers, and sometimes at home. They provide prenatal health care and screenings but are not able to perform surgeries such as cesarean sections. Doulas are non-medical support people. We provide emotional support to birthing people, as well as physical comfort measures and relaxation techniques during labor. We DO NOT provide any clinical care, such as checking fetal heartbeats, checking the cervix, or diagnosing or interpreting any medical conditions. Doulas DO NOT deliver babies (a frequent misconception).
I’m afraid a doula would replace my partner… why should I have a doula when my partner can support me?
Doulas provide tons of support for Mom, sure, but we also provide fantastic support to the laboring woman’s partner. Partners can get overwhelmed and exhausted during birth too, and doulas know how to make sure Dad/partner is doing ok and able to go the distance with Mom. As your doula, I know that your partner is the person in your life who knows you best, and I’m not there to take over their role. I can help your partner be the best support they can be by showing them how to help you and encouraging them in their efforts. Your partner and I will make a great team, and you’ll be the lucky one!
Doulas are just for crunchy moms having a natural birth, right?
Nope! Doulas provide excellent support no matter what kind of birth you’re hoping to have. The calm, comforting presence of a doula can make a huge difference during a complicated birth with lots of medical interventions, and we can help you find the most effective way of speaking to your health care team so that you understand your options and what’s happening during your birth. Doulas are also a wonderful resource for you during a birth where pain medication is used, as we can help you be effective at keeping things moving even if you have limited mobility. Doulas who are trained by a nationally recognized organization, like myself, are up-to-date on the latest science behind birth and the current recommendations of organizations like ACOG. And of course, if you’re hoping for a birth without pain medications and you’re a good candidate for fewer interventions, we have so many tricks up our sleeves to keep you as relaxed as possible so that those birth hormones can flow freely!
My [mom/sister/best friend] said she’d be my “doula.” Why would I want someone I don’t know there?
It’s wonderful to have another woman in your life that you’re close enough to that you’d want them at your birth. Professional doulas bring something completely different to the table, however. We live, breathe, and sleep all things “birth.” We stay up-to-date on the latest science and reports on birth topics. We know how to “go with the flow” and make continual adjustments, even when Plan B becomes the Plan. We have the ability to stay calm and collected when someone really close to you may not. In fact, it’s for this reason that a review of birth studies showed that birthing women receive the most effective support from a person who is not a member of the mother’s social network.
This seems expensive. Why should I spend the money on a doula?
Simply put: because you’re worth it. Studies have shown that having a doula at your birth has a wide range of benefits, including the more obvious benefits for the mother’s (and her partner’s) emotional state, but also including reduced need for pitocin, pain medications, and reduced likelihood of cesarean section. In fact, in 2014 ACOG stated “published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula. Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized.” (Click here to read the ACOG document.) Doulas are also shown to have a positive impact on the family’s satisfaction with their birth experience.