Frequently Asked Questions
Women have attended laboring and postpartum mothers since the beginning of time. While the role of a doula is ageless, the doula profession is quite young, becoming established in the 1980s. We still hear lots of questions about what we do! In answering these questions, we truly speak from our hearts and can only speak for what we know to be true here at GRdoulas.
How is a birth doula different from a midwife?
A midwife is responsible for the medical health of the laboring mother and baby. A midwife performs medical procedures, including those as routine as taking blood pressure or listening to a heart rate, while doulas do not. Our responsibilities as doulas are to care for your emotions, physical comfort and help to protect your memory of giving birth.
If I already have a midwife, I don't need a doula...right?
While there are certain tasks that both a midwife and a doula will do, they also have distinctly different responsibilities. Depending on whether you are delivering in a hospital or at home, your midwife may be tending to more than one laboring woman. For various reasons, she may be unable to provide the continuous labor support that is a doula's #1 responsibility. During times when a midwife is focused on the health of the mother and baby (doing clinical tasks, checking vitals, charting, monitoring the mother and baby postpartum, etc.) she may not be able to provide the emotional and physical support that a doula gives. Having both a midwife and a doula is having a comprehensive "dream team" for your birth! You can read more about this here.
How do you figure the costs for your services?
As DONA-certified doulas, we've completed extensive educational training and continue to for re-certification purposes. We figure our costs based on an hourly rate of service spent one-on-one with the client, in addition to hours of research and birthplan/birth timeline writing we do on our own.
We take into consideration our own costs of doing business. We charge what we believe we are worth so we can love what we do, and prevent the rampant epidemic of "doula burnout" from getting to us. We are not hobby doulas - we take our jobs very seriously and put food on our families' tables with our income. If you feel cost is a barrier between you and the support you need, please discuss this with us, after checking with your insurance, HSA or FSA providers to see if our services have coverage or are an eligible cost. We also love giving discounts when you pass on our name to a future client.
Won't the nurses at the hospital take care of the things a doula does?
Nurses are medically trained professionals and their skills are put to good use on busy maternity units. On any given shift, nurses will likely be responsible for the care of several laboring and/or postpartum mothers, so they will be in and out of your room for indeterminate amounts of time. They also have responsibilities to meet on behalf of the hospital: labor progress needs to be followed and recorded, if you are hooked to an electronic fetal monitor (hospital protocol in most places) the nurse has to manage, monitor and respond to the machine. Also, having a personal connection with your nurse is left to chance. Your nurse will be someone you've never met before and she may or may not be someone with whom you feel comfortable. Or, you could feel like it's a perfect fit...right before that nurse's shift comes to an end. A doula will stay with you and your partner throughout labor, and participate at your comfort level. She has no other responsibilities but to support you in reaching your labor and delivery goals.
Will a doula make me stick to my birth plan if I decide to change my mind during labor?
We will support you through your birth journey, wherever it may lead. We believe a doula's job is to give you the tools you need to carry out your own plans, but we have no personal agenda for your birth. Our job is to empower you, to lift you up and encourage you to use your own voice, so you can take ownership of your birth journey.
Will a doula "save me" from my doctor, hospital staff or unwanted medical interventions?
We can not speak for other doulas but the role we fill, as according to our scope of practice, is one of support on the birth team. Above all else, we encourage a mother to choose a primary care provider whom she trusts, and to use her own voice to be heard in her wishes. A doula can remind the mother of the preferences she has listed on her birth plan, or offer ideas to the birth team that could benefit the mother and her progress. A doula would be drastically out of her scope of practice to impede on the role of another birth team member.
I'm planning on having an epidural or Cesarean birth. Would a doula work with me?
We have, and we will! We support any mom in her informed choices. Moms choosing epidurals can still use comfort measures, and physical support to endure early labor as well as informational support if a more medicalized birth is needed or desired. Meanwhile, mothers giving birth via Cesarean can benefit from extra emotional support if they are feeling uneasy about the surgery. We've provide intensive emotional support in the operating room and view it as a critically important role. In recovery, we provide physical support and breastfeeding guidance. Our MLD therapy services could also help you prepare for and recover from surgery!
I really feel like I could benefit from the support of a birth doula, but my husband is not on board. How can I convince him?
It is normal for husbands or partners to question the presence of a doula in the labor and delivery room, especially if he feels threatened the doula will take his place. Above all, let him know no one can take his place. Just like a wedding planner at a wedding, a doula has a very specific job description that will help make your day better and easier for the both of you, and will help you both look back on the day with fondness. We offer free no-obligation consults so we can answer questions from moms and partners.
How is a doula different than having my mother or sister with me during labor and delivery?
As doulas, we bring not only a deep bag of "tricks" for comfort and coping, but also no agenda for your birth, and no personal ties to the choices you make. Also, because of the intimate emotional bonds between family members, it is not uncommon for a loving and well-intended attendant to be the first to suggest an unwanted medical intervention because it is hard for them to see the laboring mother in discomfort. Meanwhile, we have only your needs in mind and we work only to raise you up to have your voice heard. Also, you won't have to worry about hosting or performing for us, like you might for a family member. Doula means "woman who serves", and our role is a humble one.
What does a postpartum doula do?
A postpartum provides practical and emotional support to families after the birth or adoption of a baby. Services include assistance and education in infant care, breastfeeding, screening for postpartum depression and help with light housework.
What is the difference between a postpartum doula and a baby nurse?
A baby nurse is usually hired to relieve parents of infant care, while the postpartum doula nurtures the family as a whole. Though a postpartum doula can certainly take care of the baby while the parents take a nap or practice self care, her main goal is to empower the parents to care for their baby on their own.
I don’t have postpartum depression. Do I still need a postpartum doula?
Yes! Many people confuse the word “postpartum” with postpartum depression.
Postpartum is the period of time beginning immediately after the birth of baby and lasting until the baby is one to two years old. Every mother goes through the postpartum period. Postpartum depression is a mental illness which affects approximately 15-20% of moms during the postpartum period. Symptoms of postpartum depression include sadness, crying and irritability. A postpartum doula can be a huge support to mothers with or without depression!
How long do postpartum doulas work with families?
This varies greatly depending on the family's needs. A postpartum doula can come for a single visit to help the family with a new adjustment (such as coming home from the hospital or the day Dad goes back to work). If on-going support is needed, a postpartum doula may help the family until the baby is six months to a year old.