What is a Doula?
A trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional, informational and spiritual support to the mother and her partner before, during and just after birth. A doula does not perform clinical tasks such as heart rate checks or vaginal exams but uses massage, aromatherapy, positioning suggestions, etc., to help the labor progress as well as possible. A doula joins a laboring woman either at her home, hospital or birthing center and remains with her until an hour after the birth. Doulas serve as advocates for their clients’ wishes. A doula can never replace the love and support her birth partner provides; the doula and birth partner work together as a team to serve the needs of the mother.
Can a doula save me money?
Yes! Having a doula reduces the need for a surgical birth (c-section) by 40-60%. Most co-payments for a surgical birth are less than a doula’s fees. A doula may also help to prevent unnecessary and costly procedures such as anesthesia, prolonged hospital stay, cesarean section, additional tests and procedures required for a baby born via surgery and the cost of postpartum care while mother recovers from major abdominal surgery, thereby saving money. Can you afford NOT to hire a doula for your baby’s birth?
What does a Doula do?
She recognizes that the birth of your child is an experience that you will always remember. She understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor. She assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth, stays with the woman throughout the labor; provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint to help the woman get the information she needs to make informed decisions. Doulas facilitate communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers. The doula’s role is to nurture and protect the woman’s memory of the birth experience and to allow the woman’s partner to participate at his/her comfort level.
How do I choose the “right” Doula?
Birth is a very intimate setting and you want to make sure you feel comfortable and confident in who you’re inviting into your birth space. Therefore the most important step in hiring a doula is scheduling a consultation; it will give us an opportunity to meet face to face, ask questions, understand what my role is and learn more about your birth goals. It is an honor and a privilege to be considered to be your doula.
Does research support a Doula’s role?
Yes. Evidence shows that the quality services of a doula can ease the transition that comes with a new addition of a baby to a family, as well as improve parental satisfaction and reduce the risk of mood disorders. Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth resulted in:
- 33% less likely to be dissatisfied with the birth experience
- 42% less likely to give birth with vacuum extraction or forceps and reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug)
- 26% less likely to use any pain medication and/or epidurals
- 26% less likely to give birth by cesarean section
Women who have doula’s attend their birth overall have shorter labors with fewer complications.Research also shows that parents who receive support can:
- feel more secure and cared for
- are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
- have greater success with breastfeeding
- have greater self-confidence
- have less postpartum depression
What is Evidence-Based Maternity Care?
“Evidence-Based Maternity Care” means using results of the best research about the safety and effectiveness of specific tests, treatments and other interventions to help guide maternity care decisions. Visit www.childbirthconnection.org for more information on this topic.
Does a Doula take the place of my loved ones?
Never! I provide support to both the mother and her partner. The presence of a doula allows the partner to support mom in the manner in which they feel most comfortable. Some partners choose to be very active in providing physical support while others feel they will be the most helpful by providing loving, emotional support. A doula helps partners determine and fill their unique role. For more information on Dads and Doulas, please read DONA International’s Topic Sheet: Dads and Doulas: Key Players on Mother’s Labor Support Team.
Won’t the nurses be able to help me?
Labor and Delivery nurses are an invaluable resource and many of them enjoy spending one-on-one time with laboring moms. However, nurses have many other responsibilities that limit their ability to focus on a mom’s physical and emotional needs. Nurses have clinical tasks, paperwork and other patients that may take them from mom’s side. My primary focus is on the laboring mom – and I’ll be with the mom throughout labor. My presence allows me to recognize changes in mom’s responses to labor and make recommendations between the various stages of labor.
What areas do you serve?
I serve Okaloosa & South Walton Counties and the surrounding areas. I am available to attend births at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, Sacred Heart Hospital in Destin, Eglin Hospital and North Okaloosa Medical Center.
Do I need a Doula if I plan on getting an epidural?
A doula can be beneficial to you even if you plan to get an epidural. I can offer you comfort measures and emotional support preceding the regional anesthesia and can also assist in turning you frequently after you have received your block as well as managing labor if the epidural is ineffective. I will remain with you to offer help while pushing and then at postpartum for the initial breastfeeding and bonding.
When should I hire a Doula?
Many women look for a doula early in their third trimester; however, it is never too early or too late. If you hire me as your doula early on in your pregnancy, I will be available to you by phone and e-mail to answer common questions that may come up during pregnancy. Choosing me as your doula early on will also help to ensure that I’m available for your due date. Generally, I like to have a contract signed by 30-35 weeks at the latest. This allows me to hold your estimated due date on my calendar as I only accept a limited number of births per month.
When do you join me in labor?
Most frequently, I will join you at the onset of active labor and once a good contraction pattern has been established. Often times this is when laboring mothers first reach the hospital. However, I may also provide support during early labor when mutual assessment deems it beneficial, as in the case of extended early labor. In the case of an elective induction, I will join you once active labor begins.
What happens if you are not available at the time of my birth?
When you sign a contract you are hiring me and I will make every attempt to attend your birth. If an unforeseen circumstance should arise, I will provide a back-up doula as necessary. I work closely with my back-up doulas to ensure that you have a high standard of care in the rare event that I’m unable to to attend your birth. I will find the doula that best fits your personality and birthing style.
May we call you with questions before or after the birth?
In addition to the prenatal visits that are allocated in my service packages, I’m also available by phone and e-mail prior to and after the birth. I will make every effort to return non-labor related messages within 48 hours. Additional visits may be scheduled for a small fee.
Do you meet with us after the birth?
Yes, a postpartum visit is included in all of my service packages. This visit takes place in your home and gives us an opportunity to discuss your labor and birth experience and/or allow you to ask questions about your little one.
What else can you do during a postpartum visit?
At a second postpartum visit I can offer in-home lactation and feeding support (breast or bottle), guidance and assistance in caring for your newborn and may also assist with light household tasks such as tidying up the nursery or preparing meals for the recuperating mother. My job is to make the transition into becoming a family (or a growing family) easier on everyone. Families can use doulas for a few days or up to a few months, whatever is needed to make the adjustment easier for you.
Will insurance cover a Doula?
Yes! Depending on your plans specific coverage, some insurance companies will cover the services of a Certified Doula. After payment has been made, I will provide you with an invoice to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement. Reimbursement is not guaranteed and additional documentation may be required (i.e a doctor or midwife’s referral or prescription for doula services).
Is a Doula the same thing as a midwife or a nurse?
No, a doula provides no medical or nursing care. A professional midwife delivers the baby in a hospital, home or birthing center. A doula is a support person who does not deliver the baby. Since I don’t have these responsibilities, or other patients to attend to, I can give you my complete and total attention by being by your side for the entire length of your labor.
Does a Doula make decisions on my behalf?
I will not make any decisions on your behalf nor will I intervene with your clinical care. I provide informational and emotional support, while respecting your decisions.
What training do you have?
I am a DONA certified Birth Doula. For information about DONA’s certification requirements, Code of Ethics or Standards of practice please visit www.dona.org. I am also a Licensed Massage Therapist and have been for more than seven years. I am a graduate of The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School and Clinic in Austin, TX. I hold a dual-licensure with the state of Florida (and Texas). My license number is MA74793.
I’m seeing a wonderful midwife that I really like; do I still need a doula?
I LOVE the midwifery model of care – your midwife is your medical guardian. A doula supports the whole family through labor. At various points in every labor, your midwife’s attention has to turn towards the health and safety of you and your baby. As your doula I will be focused on your physical and emotional comfort. I can be with you during the late night hours to labor so that your midwife can sleep (if needed) for a few hours. It’s best to have a well-rested and alert midwife during the most critical moments of birth. She may have more than one patient in labor when you arrive; as your doula, I’m there to serve only you. A midwife and doula complement each other VERY well during labor.
What if I change my mind about wanting a natural birth and ask for an epidural?
I come into your birth space with an open mind and an open heart. I don’t have my own agenda, I’m there to support you and your birth choices.We’ll talk in-depth during our prenatal visits to learn more about what kind of birth you envision, and I’ll do everything I can to help get you there. And if you get into labor and for whatever reason plans change, I can actually help you cope with the unexpected turn of events. There is much a doula can do if you opt for pain medication, including position changes and other tricks to help your baby descend. I can also help you cope with the physical side effects of medication, to continue making your journey as comfortable as possible. Sometimes pain medication doesn’t work as expected, but mom’s movements and coping tools are suddenly limited — we will get you through.
Do you work with Doctors?
Absolutely! Most physicians spend very little time with the mother during her labor, so having continuous support from a doula can be especially helpful during labor. I’m very proud of the relationships I’ve developed with a number of family doctors and obstetricians in the area. Ask your provider about the added benefits of having a doula.
What if I need a c-section?
There are many things I can do to help make a cesarean birth the most loving, family-centered experience possible. I can join you upon admission before the surgery, to help with relaxation and assist you in brainstorming questions for your health care team. I can also help advocate for some of the things you might want during the surgery. For example, working with surgeons and anesthesiologists to allow skin-to-skin contact on the operating table.This is so much more family-centered than taking the baby to the nursery or to the recovery room to wait for you, and we have found that it significantly decreases birth trauma for the mother. I can help explain what is happening during the surgery and show your partner some physical comfort measures that may help you deal with the sensations of surgery. Sometimes a baby needs to go to the nursery or the NICU after a cesarean birth, in which case the partner generally goes with the baby, and I will stay by your side. This helps mothers to not feel so alone as the surgery is finished and recovery begins. And finally, if the cesarean was unexpected, we will offer a compassionate, listening ear to help you process the birth.
What is your birth philosophy?
It’s your body, your baby and your birth experience, so you decide how I can best support you during labor. Ultimately, I support whatever decisions you make that you feel are best for you and your family. My goal is always to have a happy, healthy mom and baby with a positive and joyous birth experience!
Contact me, I’d love to hear from you!