Common Questions about Doulas
What is a doula? Is a doula just there for the birth?
At Birthways, we have well trained labor support doulas and postpartum doulas. Labor support doulas provide resources and guidance as you prepare for labor as well as provide you with comfort and continuous care during childbirth itself. Your doula remains focused on your need for preparation, comfort and informed decision-making, and is grounded in optimizing the normal progression of labor with all of her skills and knowledge. While all doulas at Birthways are trained to address postpartum concerns and the labor support package includes one postpartum visit, she may or may not also be available to support you in an ongoing way as a postpartum doula. As you plan for care, we can explore options for doulas that can meet both your needs for labor support as well as help at home after your baby is born.
Our postpartum doulas provide comprehensive support in the weeks and month after your baby has arrived. She provides reassurance and evidence-based information for all the questions that may arise regarding your newborn’s wellbeing, your own postpartum recovery, breastfeeding questions if you are nursing, sibling adjustment and more. She meets practical needs for meals, errands, laundry and all the things that can feel overwhelming as you adjust to a newborn’s arrival. You can have care during the day, for overnights to get restorative sleep, or both.
What’s the difference between a postpartum doula and a baby nurse, night nurse, newborn nanny or newborn specialist?
At Birthways, postpartum doulas provide any of the services that a night nurse or baby nurse provides but our core training and depth of experience and expertise is much more expansive. Additionally, we know that the practical support your family needs is critical to your thriving. We are happy to make nutritious meals, run errands, provide sibling care, do laundry, etc. You’ll find that a Birthways postpartum doula is not only more trained and skilled but is more flexible to focus on what you most need as a new family.
I’m not considered ‘postpartum’—my baby was born more than 6 weeks ago. Can you help me?
Of course! We consider the first year to be one of great adjustment and rapid transitions. An average relationship with our clients is 16 weeks—some may have just a few weeks of support during a crisis, and many of our clients receive our support for the first year and beyond. We don’t have a cut off!
At Birthways we create our plans around your needs—from having an affirming expert present for your first day home to having a newborn specialist available to ease your transition back to work or sensitive and informed assistance until your baby has moved through the early developmental milestones, we can support you and your family.
What if I choose pain medication or need intervention? Would a labor doula be helpful?
Doulas are not just beneficial to women who have natural childbirth. While having doula support does decrease the need for pain medication, your Birthways doula supports your choices. She will work with you to eliminate the one thing no woman needs in childbirth—fear! Whether you are afraid of pain or afraid of needles, or just know that you don’t know what to expect, our doula will lead you to explore your unique needs in childbirth and will be there with you every step of the way as you move towards greater confidence.
Will the doula take away from my role as a father/partner?
Our best referrals come from dads and partners! Doulas are on hand to share their knowledge of the birth process, comfort measures, and the ins-and-outs of the hospital—freeing you up to be connected and share in this important event.
Doulas can provide you with ideas and strategies for addressing the discomforts of labor. Sometimes you are the one who is most hands-on, providing much needed touch and comfort, or it may be the doula providing massage and counter-pressure on your laboring mates’ back and hips while you get to share intimate eye contact and an embrace.
The doula cares for details that would otherwise interrupt the continuous support of women in labor, such as heating up hot compresses, getting ice/water, snacks, bags from the car . . . you’ll find that all hands are needed on what can be a long day. Your doula is a source of reassurance for you when you wonder if all is going normally.
Does insurance cover doula services?
Please contact us to learn more about whether or not your traditional health insurance, health savings account, or flexible spending account will reimburse for your doula care. We’re happy to work with you to maximize your coverage opportunities.
I don’t know when my baby is going to come! What if my doula isn’t available?
If you reserve care with us prior to 27 weeks of pregnancy, your doula will be reserved for you regardless of whether your baby comes early or late. We have been arranging care for families for more than two decades and we don’t overbook our reserved clients. If you are planning later and our availability is limited, we have careful conversations about your doula’s availability and options to make sure you get your needs met!
At Birthways, your labor support doula handles commitments thoughtfully. Birthways doulas typically accept between one and four births per month. She will let you know in advance if she has any conflicts that might impact her availability. Regardless, some things are out of anyone’s control, such as a doula who is ill when you begin labor or an unlikely but always possible overlap. We always have a solid backup plan and because of our group model, the backup doula will be much like your primary in terms of experience level, philosophy and skills. Plus, you’ll have a chance to meet and feel completely at ease.
Will I need a doula if I have a midwife?
A midwifery model of care offers a greater focus on preventative care, more time in prenatal visits, a more participatory style of management, and your midwife will be more hands-on than traditional obstetric care. Still, your doula will meet some needs that even the most attentive midwife will not, such as support with early labor at home, continuous care, and a focus on comfort and non-medical needs. Your midwife can share with you ways that she works with doulas to ensure that all your needs are met.
A doula does not replace your midwife, doctor or any of your health team. She supplements a health care system and the inherent gaps between what it provides through routine care and what families actually need for childbirth.
Don’t hesitate to call for referrals if you’re still looking for a midwife or doctor! Our consultants help you to explore your options and share tips on how to interview practitioners.