Doulas are full of tips, tricks, and resources that can benefit you during your pregnancy. Unlike family, you get to interview and pick your doula. A doula is a person trained to advise, inform, and offer emotional and physical comfort to pregnant people before, during, and after the birth of their child. Think of a doula as someone who is there to provide you with extra physical and emotional support. A doula can’t provide you with any medical advice, but she can help you find the right healthcare provider or give you information on where to go for expert help.
The general definition of a doula is an individual who has been trained to support a parent or caregiver during their pregnancy, labor, and childbirth; however, there are actually many different types of doulas, including fertility, antepartum, postpartum, adoption, abortion, miscarriage, gender transition, each with unique roles and responsibilities respective to their job.
There is a major difference between what a doula offers and what a midwife or health provider can help you with. A midwife is a specially trained and licensed professional who directly assists you during your pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Unlike a doula, a midwife is a registered nurse who has earned her master’s degree in nursing with a specialization in midwifery.
If you’ve decided having a doula is a good option for you, start researching and interviewing potential doulas early to give yourself plenty of time to find the right one. Alternatively, ask your provider, childbirth class instructor, midwife, and even family members or friends for recommendations. Before speaking to potential doulas, you may want to ask your healthcare provider if a doula is covered by your insurance. Oftentimes doulas are not covered. It might also be a good idea to ask your healthcare provider whether they allow doulas to be present with you at the hospital or birthing center, as there may be hospital policies or guidelines about the use of a doula that you may need to be aware of.
Once you’ve found a few doula options, it’s worth having a discussion with each of them. You might consider asking the potential doula about their training, skills, and experience, how many births they have attended, philosophy when it comes to labor and childbirth, how they feel about your labor and birthing preferences, what they typically do for the birthing person during labor and childbirth, what various other services they may provide and, of course, their fees. When meeting with a doula, it’s also a good idea to discuss any concerns you may have about your pregnancy and ask any other questions you may have. The key is to feel comfortable with your doula; after all, you two will work closely together at a very important and personal time.
Whether you decide to have a doula during your pregnancy is a personal choice. The goal is for you to feel as empowered and as relaxed as possible during pregnancy, labor, childbirth, and beyond.