There are two main types of doulas:
- A birth doula
- A postpartum doula
A Birth Doula:
A birth doula is a professional labour support person. What does that mean? It is a woman who accompanies women in labor to help ensure a safe and satisfying birth experience. Doulas draw on their knowledge and experience to provide emotional support, physical comfort and to help facilitate communication with caregivers to make sure that you have the information you need to make decisions as that are right for you. Doulas can provide reassurance and perspective to you and your partner, make suggestions for labour progress, and help with relaxation, massage, positioning and other techniques for comfort.
Question: What’s included in most birth doula services?
This could vary based on what you want/need and the doula you have hired. Most commonly birth doula services include:
- 2 or 3 prenatal visits one-on-one, or participation in their group classes if they are also a childbirth educator
- Birth plan review: it’s critical that your doula spend time with you and your support person(s) understanding what you are hoping for in your birth experience. This is usually accomplished by a review of your birth plan
- Being on call 24/7 for birth: your doula should make you aware of any vacation she has planned when you book her services, and should provide you with a back-up in case you can’t get a hold of her
- Attending your birth: most doulas will be by your side from the time you need them. This may be at home, or they may meet you at the hospital. A birth doula should be with you start to finish whether your birth lasts 4 hours or 24 hours
- Postpartum: most doulas will stay an hour or two after birth, or until you are settled and comfortable and you have established breastfeeding. Most will also do one postpartum visit to see how you are and to review your feelings about your birth experience.
While not all doulas operate in the same manner, this is a common list of included services.
Question: How much does a Doula cost?
That depends of course on the Doula and where you live. Some Doulas use a sliding scale and charge depending on your income which can range from ‘no fee’ to $1500. The fee can vary: depending on your location (higher in urban centres), their level of experience, the location you choose to have your baby (may be traveling fees, parking fees), and many other factors.
Here at Discover Birth, we have:
- Birth doulas in Durham Region (serving Clarington, Cobourg, Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Port Perry, and more) Fees range: $250 – $1100
- Birth doulas in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area Fees range $400 to $1500
- Birth doulas in Markham Fees range $400 to $1200
- Pro-bono doulas who have done their in-class training and who are working on their clinical placements. These doulas can assist families in need who cannot afford a traditional doula. Call or email us for more info.
We are happy to do an intake with you to find the doulas who best fit your needs. Based on 2 or 3 questions, we can connect you with the 2-4 doulas who most closely fit what you’re looking for. We will even coordinate scheduling! Just call us to set things up at 1-877-BIRTH36 (247-8436).
A Postpartum Doula:
A postpartum doula is someone trained in helping new parents get through those first few weeks with their newborn.
Their role is broad, and can vary from family to family, depending on needs. From help with breastfeeding, to help with older children, education on newborn care, house keeping, running errands, and anything else you need help with. Some parents find after birth that they need an extra set of hands. If Mom is having a bit of trouble recovering from a cesarean section or other difficult labor, or just needs the extra support, some parent find the additional support invaluable.
A doula is not there to take-over your role as a parent. She is there to help you fill-in the gaps that your own mother/aunt/sister/neighbor would have filled for you a hundred years ago when we all lived in small communities. A doula will help you feel more confident as a new parent, so you’re ready to continue your journey after she leaves.
A postpartum doula is a MUST if you have had (or are planning) a cesarean and don’t have a lot of help from family and friends. It is also very helpful if you’re suffering from postpartum blues or depression, or just feeling exhausted.
How much does a postpartum doula cost?
A postpartum doula’s fees can vary from $20-$35/hour, depending on your location, your needs, and their experience. For example if you need someone for night hours to help you care for twins or triplets, or if it’s just for a few hours during the day, you may see price variations.
Who Needs A Doula?
As women begin the countdown towards their “due date” – the date everyone thinks they’ll have a baby by – they prepare in as many ways as there are mothers. Some read, some avoid all information for fear of fear itself. The ones who are attending childbirth education classes are opening their minds to the current research that will help them make the decisions that feel right to them. A growing number of women are going one step further and are hiring a doula.
Although historically it was very normal for women to surround women in labor and birth, the last hundred years have gone from 90% of births occurring outside the hospital to 99% of births occurring within them. Before 1900 a woman would have grown-up seeing her aunts, cousins, friends, neighbors, and maybe even her own mother birthing their baby. By the time it was her turn, she knew the drill.
Women are beginning to realize the amazing value a doula can bring to the experience. Yes, the experience, the journey, the “I want more” that women are calling for. The hiring of a doula is often a huge relief for the male partners as well. They can now be there emotionally without having to worry about what they’re “supposed” to do next, trying to remember what they learned in childbirth education class. A good doula will involve the partner in a way where the experience still feels private and special between the couple. We can call her the “supporting actress”, who makes the others look good and feel good.
So who needs a doula? Well, we’re biased, but we think EVERYONE!!!
Finding the Right Doula
Since birth is a profoundly intimate experience you need to find someone that you and your support person ‘click’ with. The Doula profession is not regulated so you can hire someone who’s experienced or not, or who is certified or not.
You should interview a few different doulas to choose the one that is the best fit with your personality, beliefs, philosophy, and hopes for birth.
There are some certifying bodies for doulas. You may prefer to have someone who’s gone through special training or who has become certified. DONA International is one such agency. Keep in mind that doulas come in all shapes and sizes, there are great doulas, and, well…not so good ones. Certified or not, find the one that you feel most comfortable with. You are the best judge of how the person conducts themselves in the interview, their level of professionalism, their level of knowledge and experience, and their “fit” with you and your partner.directory for one near you
Still have more questions?
Check out our Myths page
- If my spouse/partner will be there do I really need a Birth Doula?
- If I have a midwife do I really need a doula?
- I’m not nervous about birth, do I need a doula?
- I really want a doula, but my partner’s not convinced. Now what?
- I really want a doula, but I can’t afford one. Now what?