Unless you’ve been told about them before, you’re probably asking yourself ‘what does a birth doula do?’. Well, according to Dona, a birth doula is ‘a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother during childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible’.
How exactly can a birth doula help you during your childbirth, and how can you go about finding one? Read our guide to find out more!
What Does a Birth Doula do?
They are many roles to play during a pregnancy and labour, and some of the things you may ask them to do include:
- Meeting you and your partner before the birth to discuss your pregnancy, family arrangements, birth arrangements, history, expectations and wishes
- Providing you with information about ways of birthing and available pain relief
- Discuss your personal birthing preferences
- Help you design a birth plan
- Direct you to useful information, including leaflets, books, brochures and articles
- Be available for you to talk to leading up to your birth, and be on call
- Attend your birth and provide as much comfort and support as is needed and wanted
They may also have skills in massage, happy to tidy up, do some cooking, empty birthing pools, talk to health care professionals on your behalf etc. Your doula will be there to help you in whatever way you need, when you need it.
Arranging Support From a Birth Doula
Where possible, your chosen doula will meet you while you’re still pregnant, and you may choose to have several antenatal appointments with her leading up to your labour. Meeting them before you go into labour allows you to get to know them, and vice versa. The better your relationship, the more personal support she’ll be able to provide.
In order to understand the birth experience you wish to achieve, your doula will ask you lots of questions during your first meeting. If you then decide to go ahead and hire her, she will book your desired package. They should be on call for when you go into labour, and this usually starts around two weeks before your due date.
Once you go into labour, they will arrive to assist and and comfort you, meeting your needs. She’ll then stay until you’re ready for her to leave after your baby is born. You can also hire a doula on a postnatal basis, and they are called postnatal doulas.
The Benefits of a Birth Doula
According to the 2013 Cochrane Report and review, ‘continuous support during labour has clinically meaningful benefits for women and infants and no known harm. All women should have support throughout labour and birth’.
Research has also shown that having a birth doula can also mean that you’re:
- Less likely to have a cesarean birth
- Less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up delivery
- Less likely to use any pain medication
- Less likely to have a negative childbirth experience
- More likely to have a positive childbirth experience
How Much does a Birth Doula cost?
Many birth doulas are postnatal doulas too, therefore doulas often offer packages which are designed to provide postnatal care to you as well. If you want to hire a doula just for your birth, prices would be around:
- £300 – £1000 for a mentored birth doula
- £600 – £3000+ for a fully recognised doula
Prices will vary depending on the doula, her experience and her qualifications. Birth doulas are free to set their prices themselves, but will often be happy to take your personal budget into account.
How do I find a Birth Doula?
If you’d like to hire a birth doula, it’s possible to search on Google for an independent doula, or alternatively ask a training agency.