Q. What is a doula and what is the role of a doula?
“Doula” is a Greek word meaning “woman’s servant”. Throughout history and in nearly every culture, women have been cared
for and surrounded by other women during childbirth. Doulas are trained and experienced in childbirth. The most important
role of a doula is to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to women and their partners during labor and
Q. What is the goal of a doula?
A. The goal of a doula is to be part of the team that helps the woman have
a safe and satisfying birth experience as the woman defines it. When a doula is present, many women feel less need for pain
medications, or may postpone them until later in labor. However, many women choose or need pharmacological pain relief. It
is not the role of the doula to discourage the mother from her choices. Doulas can help maximize the benefits of pain medications.
Doulas do not make decisions for their clients; they do not project their own values and goals onto the laboring woman.
Will my health insurance cover the cost of a doula?
A. Insurance plans have, in some instances, covered the cost of doulas.
We encourage you to check with your insurance provider to see if they will cover all or part of the cost.
Q. I have
been through a birth class and I have a labor coach, what does a doula do that my coach cannot?
A. The woman’s partner
plays an essential role in providing support. The actual birth process is usually as new to the labor coach as it is to the
mother. The doula will work with the coach, explain what is happening, provide knowing comfort, be a liaison with the hospital
staff and do anything else that a new mother desires to make the birth experience more comfortable. The doula is there in
addition to, not instead of, the partner. Ideally, the doula, the birth partner and the hospital staff make the perfect support
team for the new mother.
Q. How does the nurse’s role differ from the doula’s role?
A. The nursing staff will provide
excellent nursing and medical care always with the woman’s comfort and safety in mind. The difference is that the doula will
always be there just for you and your partner to provide constant support.
Q. Is there any research that shows that
birth outcomes are improved with doulas as part of the maternity care team?
A. There have been studies that show that the
addition of a doula to the maternal team improves maternal-infant bonding. There have been further studies that show decreased
complication, intervention and cesarean section rates. Results of these studies can be obtained from Doula Support Services.
What will the doula do at our first meeting?
A. The doula will become acquainted with you, discuss your birth plan, explore
and discuss your priorities and resolve any concerns you may have.
Q. Will a doula contact me after the baby is
A. Yes, a doula will call you at least one time within 72 hours after the birth to see how you are doing, to review
the birth and to receive feedback from you about her role.
Q. Will a doula be helpful if I am scheduled for a cesarean
A. Since most C-sections do not require general anesthesia and the patient will be awake, a doula certainly
can provide a measure of assurance before, after and, in some instances, during the procedure.
Q. Where can I get more
information about doulas?
A. Check out www.dona.org or look for “doula” on the internet. A great book to read is: "The
Birth Partner" by Penny Simkin, which can be ordered from Amazon.com or from the DONA website.