What is a Doula?
According to DONA International, a Doula is “a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth”. The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves”.”
Why hire a Doula?
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.
Doulas are not a replacement for medical staff or your partner, they are a welcomed addition. During your labor, your medical staff will have a variety of responsibilities. While their main focus is on you and your baby, they will have other patients to attend to during the early parts of your labor, documentation to complete as well as other protocol. A Doula has one sole focus. YOU. They are there for you no matter what your needs or requests. Many women believe that their partners will be able to take on this role and many can, but Doulas and partners are able to work as a team. They can cover each other when your partner needs a break, and while your partner may be extremely supportive, they do not have the same experience attending births as a Doula. In addition some women find that listening to a Doula to be much more calming than listening to their spouse during labor and contractions.
Historically, women have been attended and supported by other women during labour including mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts and friends. However, in hospitals worldwide, continuous support during labour is no longer practiced.
In 2012, Hodnett et al. published an updated Cochrane review on the use of continuous support for women during labor and delivery. Continuous support is defined as a support person whose sole focus was on the laboring mother and whom did not leave her side. They pooled the results of 22 total trials that included 15,288 women. These women were randomly chosen to receive different levels of care; continuous one-on-one support during labor or “usual care.”
Women allocated to continuous support were more likely to have a spontaneous vaginal birth.
In addition, their labours were shorter and they were less likely to have a caesarean or instrumental vaginal birth. The studies concluded that 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.
Doulas come at a price, and when you are looking at all of the things to buy and spend on your new family member, it might seem high.
The cost varies by region, but often you are looking at anywhere from $500- $2,500 to hire a doula with an average falling somewhere around $800-$1,200. This cost normally includes one or two in-person prenatal visits (sometimes a postpartum visit as well), access to the doula’s phone and e-mail to ask questions before labor, and her undivided attention during labor and delivery. And while a doula might not be a professional photographer, s/he can snap photos during the labor process as well as the moments after your newest member arrives! Many mothers regret not having a few photos of that momentous day! In addition, many doulas also offer placenta encapsulation services (either included in the price or as an additional cost). Read more about placenta encapsulation Placenta Encapsulation.
It is a lot of money, but for many women it is worth finding a way to make it work. And really, the cost is all relative. According to CNBC, the average cost of a wedding is as high as $28,400 by one estimate, and close to$26,000 by another. And depending on where you live, like the Big Apple, average costs can top $70,000. That’s higher than the median American household income. You and your baby are worth the extra support during your pregnancy and labor!