What is a doula?
A labor doula is a formally trained, experienced and compassionate woman who will stay with you throughout labor and birth. She offers continuous, non-clinical support and encouragment with proven focus and comfort measures. Also called a childbirth or labor assistant, the doula, pronounced “DOO-lah,” is a Greek word meaning “woman caregiver,” and has been applied to the avocation of prenatal, labor and postpartum care.
Suggested reading: Mothering the Mother, How a Doula Can Help You Have a Shorter, Easier and Healthier Birth by Kennell, Klaus and Kennell or the latest edition retitled, The Doula Book.
Where do I find a doula?
There are several ways to locate, interview and hire a doula.
The internet features www.birthcarenetwork.com prominently. We are contacted from parents-to-be in Louisville and Southern Indiana as well as from women who plan to relocate to the area by their due date. On our Birth Care Network website you can access our entire active membership, including birth doulas both trained and certified. Their contact info includes name, phone, email, and service category. Also, feel free to visit the Doulas of North America website at www.DONA.org where there is a wealth of consumer information.
You can receive a call from Birth Care Network by leaving a message on our Free Referral and Information Line at (502) 499-4418. You can disucss your desires for pregnancy, birth and postpartum care with a Birth Care Network representative and she will provide suggestions, as well as printed material, that you might need to help get you moving in the right direction.
- Meet the Doula Presentations
Meet several doulas in person at this free program. Meet the Doula presentations offers a lively and casual session with a brief presentation on doula care followed by group Q & A. Learn about childbirth options and hear positive birth experiences! You do not have to be registered to give birth at Clark Memorial, Norton Suburban, or University of Louisville Hospital in order to attend.
- Health Fairs and Exhibits
Birth Care Network has become a steady participant at local health and pregnancy events. We are invited to many regionl gatherings throughout the year. Our booth is stocked with plenty of materials-to-go on birth education, labor support, breastfeeding, massage and contact information for our membership. Look for our logo and smiling volunteers.
What do doulas charge?
Fees vary from doula to doula and are generally based on experience and education. The range from newly-trained doulas seeking certification births for a small charge, to experienced, trained and certified doulas who may charge anywhere between $200 – $500 and upwards. Many doulas offer a package that has extra service options, where her professional skills involve teaching, lactation consultation, massage, or nursing. We want to emphasize, there should be a doula for every woman who wants one and most doulas are flexible and agreeable to arrange bartering, reduced rates or installment plans.
How does a doula work with my partner/husband?
Bear in mind that a doula replaces no one, whether it’s the family or caregivers. However important the father’s role may be during labor, studies have not shown fathers to have the same beneficial effects as a female labor companion. Working as a team, the doula enhances and compliments the father’s care, while relieving him of the often unrealistic expectation that he ‘know all’ and ‘be all’ to you in labor. It is often quoted that mothers may hire the doula but it’s the fathers who are first to say thanks!
Suggested reading: The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin, PT, CD(DONA)
Can I have an epidural with my doula?
Your doula acommpanies you on the journey that you plan and choose. That path can change at any point and your doula will stand by you and your decisions. Her non-clinical scope of practice, encouragement, focus and comfort measures are all employed to bring the woman through the birth process one step at a time. When considering your preferences, it is best not to pre-plan to use pain relief medications. They can have adverse effects on you, your baby and the labor. Through the use of comfort measures and encouragement, a doula can help you avoid pain medication. For example, she can help you find effective positions in which to labor or push despite having an epidural. In addition, narcotics do not completely relieve pain, and if you opt for an epidural, you will still need information and emotional support.
Considering these benefits of a doula-assisted birth –
- 60% reduction in epidural requests
- 40% reduction in oxytocin (pitocin) use
- 30% reduction in analgesia use
…you may find that your expectations of needing intervention may lessen while moving into an empowered birth.
Suggested reading: Easing Labor Pain by Adrienne Lieberman
Can I have a hospital birth?
Many of our doulas find they work most often in a hospital setting. In the Louisville and Southern Indiana area, Birth Care Network members are familiar faces on the labor and delivery floors. We provide the busy nuring staff with an assurance that you are being well-taken care of by a professional as they go about their often crowded shifts. Your doula or childbirth educator may have guidelines for research on choosing a hospital.
What does my doctor/nurse think of doulas?
Ask. Discuss. Engage your caregiver at any point in the relationship, from meeting the practice to your regular exam appoinments. Keep your obstetrician, nurse and nurse practitioners aware of your birth preferences and that they include the labor support professional who will become part of the birth team. Let your caregivers know what you’ve learned about doula care and perhaps tell them a little bit about your doula. You may want to provide them with some printed material. Sometimes a client enjoys the company of her doula during a scheduled doctor’s visit. All this goes to get that crucial birth “team” on the same page. Remember, you are the consumer. You have hired a medical doctor, his or her staff and a qualified doula. You’re in charge!