What is a Birth Doula?

Birth Doula image

By: Lisa Mackell

The word doula is Greek for a “women who serves” and has come to mean a woman (although there are a couple of male doulas) who is a trained and experienced professional. A birth doula will provide informational support, as well as physical/emotional support to a labouring mother and her partner, before, during and after the birth, and into the immediate postpartum period.

There have been many studies done that show having a doula as part of your support team will:

  • Tend to reduce the length of labour, with fewer complications
  • Increase the positive feelings surrounding the birth
  • Reduce the need for labour stimulating drugs, medical interventions (such as vacuum extraction) and a decrease in the need for a caesarian section
  • Reduce the request for pain medications
  • Help the couple to feel safe and care for
  • Have a better success rate for breastfeeding

Questions you can ask a potential doula:

What is your training? Are you certified? A certified doula will adhere to a higher standard of conduct and ethics. Most certified doulas are required to re-certify every few years, and as such are constantly taking educational courses to improve their knowledge. You can find certified doulas through organizations as DONA International, CAPPA, Birth Arts and others.

What is your fee, and what does it cover? A birth doula’s fee can vary, based upon experience, and each doula will have a list of services that they include, but should include, prenatal visits, labour and a postpartum visit. Some will have extensive lending libraries, and others may include photography as well. Be sure to find out what each doula includes as part of the service.

How do you involve my partner? A doula is not a replacement for the partner, but rather works in conjunction with the partner, to better facilitate the laboring mom’s wishes and needs throughout the birth. The doula will help the partner to be as involved as needed and wanted.

How many births have you attended? Ask about her birthing experiences; what were some of the best moments?

Are you familiar with my care provider, and location of birth?

How do you feel about the use of pain medications? Some doulas prefer to take on clients that prefer completely natural births, and others are willing to be a part of a more medicalized birth, so it’s good to ask upfront what her birthing philosophy is.

Ready to hire a doula?

Ask your friends and family for referrals, and check out listed doula organizations. Some cities will also have a local Doula Association with a list of doulas. Interview a few, as each doula brings to the table a different skill set and personality traits. Choose the doula that you feel most comfortable with, and prepare for the most amazing experience of your life.

Lisa is a wife to Mike, and a mom to two boys, Shane (9) and Alexander (6). They reside in Edmonton, where Lisa works as a Certified Birth Doula at Baby Bump Doula & Birth Services. Between births, she enjoys hanging out with family and friends, geocaching and scrapbooking.

You May Also Like