General Doula FAQs
What Is a Doula and Do You Need One?
Imagine having someone reliable to advise you when you have questions about your pregnancy, what to expect during labor, or what is or isn’t normal when you care for your newborn. Rather than Googling the answers to your most burning childbirth and early parenting questions, picture yourself turning to a warm and compassionate professional who can support you whenever you need help.
Someone who can give you a massage in the midst of discomfort, provide tips on the best positions in labor, or take care of your newborn while you shower...think of a doula as a fairy godmother of all things related to birth and baby care.
Perhaps you’ve heard of doulas before but still aren’t sure what a doula is. What can you expect when working with a doula and when should you consider hiring one? What are the costs of hiring a doula for labor support or after you have your baby? How can a doula make your delivery easier and safer?
We’ve answered some of your most commonly asked questions about doulas here. For questions more specific to labor and birth support doulas, click here. For questions more specific to postpartum doulas, click here.
If you’re still wondering whether a doula is right for you, contact us to schedule a one-on-one consultation so we can guide you based on your needs.
The benefits of working with a doula
A doula is a professional that can support you during pregnancy, labor, and into the first year of your pregnancy. Think of a doula as your personal pregnancy and birthing coach, night time nanny, an extra set of hands to help around the house, and a source of evidence-based childbirth wisdom...all in one. A doula offers physical and emotional support, helping you navigate concerns that inevitably arise during the journey to parenthood.
A doula provides both guidance and hands-on support for expecting and new parents. When you work with a doula, you get:
Expert, evidence-based information so you can make more informed decisions
A doula demystifies the confusing, overwhelming, and even scary parts of having a baby by providing reassurance and advice during all stages of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. A doula can help you understand what’s normal and what issues you may need to turn to your doctor for.
Comfort measures to relieve pain and stress
A doula can provide comfort measures to relieve tension, pain, and stress during each stage of pregnancy, birth and postpartum, including massage techniques, positioning ideas, and visualization strategies.
All-around baby and support after birth
After you come home from the hospital, a doula can help make daily life easier by helping with tasks around the house, looking after your newborn or other children, or providing breastfeeding and lactation support.
Studies find that the continuous presence of a doula during labor helps improve labor outcomes. A study compilation by Cochrane Review found the following benefits:
- Increased spontaneous vaginal birth
- Shorter duration of labor
- Decreased cesarean birth
- Decreased instrumental vaginal birth
- Decrease use of any analgesia
- Higher Apgar scores for infants (measures infant health after birth)
Doulas as part of your support team
Doulas are not medical providers and do not provide medical services. Rather, they work alongside your doctors and nurses to ensure the maximum level of comfort for you, your family, and your baby.
Both a doula and a midwife can assist in the birthing process, helping you have a more comfortable and smooth delivery. The main difference between the two is that a midwife is a medical professional who is trained and qualified to deliver a baby while a doula does not provide medical services. Before and during delivery, a doula offers support in other ways such as:
- Assistance with labor positions
- Relaxation techniques
- Massage for pain relief
- Emotional and physical support for you and your partner
All Birthways doulas received their initial training from a national certifying agency such as DONA or toLabor. At Birthways, we consider this the very beginning of doula training and education. Our doulas possess additional training, such as Hypnobirthing, Massage, Acupressure, Spinning Babies, Midwifery or medical degrees and licensure, and more.
Our doulas have a broad experience and wisdom to support:
- First time mothers
- Women who have previously given birth
- Women with vaginal births after cesarean (VBAC)
- Home births
- Hospital births
- Common (and not-so-common) complications
- Women with complex health histories, prior injuries or muscular-skeletal anomalies or weaknesses
We will work with physical therapists or other health care teams to support and protect your body during childbirth.
A doula is a support system for you and your partner. A birth doula does not replace your partner - on the other hand, a doula can empower and reassure your partner so they also feel comfortable throughout the birthing process. A doula can provide strategies for overcoming the discomforts of labor and take care of those tasks that would distract from your partner’s ability to fully share this important event with you. A doula can provide a massage and counter-pressure on your back and hips while you get to share intimate eye contact and an embrace.
Even if you and your partner have prepared for birth by taking childbirth classes, reading books, or watching videos together, it’s a different experience when you’re in the delivery room. You both want to be able to focus on the present moment. Knowledgeable about all aspects of the birth process, a doula can help keep the energy of the room calm and relaxed so that you and your partner can enjoy this special experience without the added stress.
Is it a good time to hire a doula?
While many people think of a doula as someone that is present during labor and delivery, a doula can support you before and after birth as well. A doula can help you prepare a birth plan and ensure that everything goes smoothly when you settle back into your home all the way up to a year after giving birth. Whether you’re planning pregnancy, surrogacy, adoption or just had your baby, a doula has the skills to assist or answer questions so you don’t have to rely on Google.
Please check with your chosen hospital to see whether a doula can present during labor at this time. The global pandemic has resulted in an increased number of at-home births in which a doula can provide support. At Birthways, we take health and safety measures very seriously to ensure the best quality of care for you and your baby. Please refer to our Covid-19 response and guidelines here.
If you’re not sure whether a doula is right for you, we’d be happy to chat with you about your unique situation. Schedule a one-on-one consultation here or consider asking yourself the following questions:
Do you have a particular concern?
Birthways doulas receive specific training in supporting mothers with a range of needs or concerns. We specialize in working with mothers or partners with fears of childbirth or prior trauma and those experiencing or at risk for perinatal mood disorders.
Are you overwhelmed with information?
Perhaps even with all the information out there, you don’t feel like you have enough of an understanding of the birth process and what to expect? This is completely normal but is something that can be addressed by turning to a doula for guidance.
Do you have a complex medical history?
If you have a unique medical situation that you’re concerned about as it relates to childbirth, our intake coordinator can learn more about your needs and suggest doulas that have the experience to help with your unique situation.
Not sure how to plan for the unknown - during or after birth?
If you’re not sure what to plan for after the baby arrives, a doula can help during birth and beyond, including:
- Additional lactation consultation
- Postpartum care: day and overnight
- Fussy baby guidance
- Emotional support
How affordable are doula services?
The cost of doula care depends on the level of support you desire and the doula’s level of experience. At Birthways we can create customized packages for your needs, but the average costs for labor and postpartum doulas are listed below.
Labor support doulas
A traditional labor support package ranges from $800-2500.
At Birthways, this gets you:
- A 24/7 on-call doula beginning at 37 weeks of pregnancy
- A free intake with our Care Coordinator and their matchmaking expertise
- Free interviews as you select your perfect Birthways doula
- Up to 3 prenatal visits focused on your preparation and preferences for birth and early postpartum
- Continuous support through labor and delivery
- Immediate postpartum support following delivery
- Postpartum follow-up visit to check-in on how everyone is doing at home
- 30 minutes of free Warmline support for basic feeding questions
The cost of a postpartum doula is typically based on an hourly rate which depends on:
- Your location
- A single baby or multiples
- Daytime or overnight support
At Birthways, you can get postpartum support from $38 per hour. Warmline, care planning, consultations and care management are included.
Investing in a doula can save you time and money in the long-run. Instead of having to rely on Google, friends, or family members to answer your childbirth, pregnancy or postpartum questions, you have someone who can provide reliable advice that could prevent complications in the future. A doula can provide tips and insights that help you understand what’s normal and what’s not, potentially helping to reduce the number of times you need to call or visit your doctor.
Doula services are generally not covered by insurance. Whether or not the cost of a doula will be covered by your insurance provider depends on your specific insurance plan. We highly recommend checking with your insurance provider to see if they cover the cost of doula services.
If you are eligible to receive benefits and reimbursement under your insurance plan, you will need to submit proof of working with a certified doula by providing a National Provider Number along with other documents. When you work with Birthways, we can help by providing the documents you will need to submit.
Because research shows that having a doula can save money by reducing the number of unnecessary C-sections and preterm births, many states are looking to include doulas under Medicaid coverage. At this time, however there are only a handful of states that cover doula services through Medicaid. You can view a list of these here.
As a form of birth support, the cost of doulas may be tax-deductible as a medical expense if you itemize deductions. We recommend checking with your tax advisor to see whether you can deduct the costs of hiring a doula.
You may be able to use your Health Savings Account (HSA) or a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to cover the cost of doula services. You will need a letter of medical necessity provided by your doctor to show that the costs of a doula are a true medical expense.