Giving birth can be a beautiful experience, but it can also be tiring, overwhelming and the one time in your life when the extra support of others goes a long way. That’s where doulas come in. Doulas are trained and experienced in childbirth and unlike midwives, whose role is to physically deliver babies, doulas are there to provide emotional and physical support to expectant mums before, during and shortly after birth. If you’re considering hiring a doula you’re probably wondering how it works and what to expect. To answer your questions I caught up with antenatal/postnatal doula and breastfeeding counsellor Andrea Allen of The Doting Doulas. Here’s what she had to say…
Why should I hire a doula?
Studies prove that women who have continuous female care have a much higher rate for natural deliveries, but if you take the science out of it, the facts are simple. Your midwife will spend around 10 minutes every hour in the labour room with you, as she will also be assisting other families. Meanwhile your doctor will only arrive once you are in the later stages of labour. Your doula will be with you as soon as you need her and will stay with you throughout your entire labour and continue to support you for a couple of hours afterwards.
Will she still be there, even if I have a long labour?
It makes no difference to us if you go into labour at 2am and your labour lasts for six hours or 72. We will be there.
Do I need to discuss hiring a doula with my OBGYN?
It’s definitely worth talking to your doctor about your decision to hire a doula, because it’s very important that everyone is on the same page. The last thing you want in the labour room is anyone making you feel uncomfortable, unsettled or unsafe.
Will my doula and doctor work well together?
Yes, as long as you have the right doula and the right doctor you can have an amazing birth experience with real support and encouragement. I have attended wonderful trouble-free natural deliveries though to emergency C-sections, and my experience is that the right OBGYN will support a mother’s choices as long as mum and baby are fit and well.
Will my husband feel pushed out of the birthing experience by the doula?
In my experience, dads really enjoy having a doula to offer them support and encouragement, just as much as mums. They also like having someone to give them tips on how they can support mum during the labour process.
How much contact will I have with my doula prior to the birth?
As a rule I have two antenatal sessions with parents, but I also like to schedule in a cuppa or two before the birth. I find that knowing mum and dad that little bit better enables me to support them more fully on the big day.
Should I get recommendations from friends?
Yes, the majority of my clients come from personal recommendations. There are a lot of doulas out there and you can search the Internet and read websites, but there is nothing more valuable than a recommendation from someone you know and trust.
What sort of training should she have?
I have trained with Nurturing Birth, which is the UK’s leading doula training organisation, as well as DONA International, the US equivalent. The training consists of a four-day course, reading a number of books by specialists and completing numerous written assignments.
How do I know if my doula is qualified?
Ask to see her certificates. If you interview someone claiming to be a doula who doesn’t have any certifications, I would recommend looking elsewhere.
How much will it cost to hire a doula?
It really depends on the doula, as charges can range anywhere from Dhs2,000 to Dhs6,000. However, it’s important to note that pricing isn’t always a reflection of experience level.
Is it guaranteed that she will be there for the big event?
Doulas have a four-week on-call period. This covers two weeks either side of your estimated due date. Of course, there may be a situation where a doula is unable to attend, for example, if she is ill.
Can I hire a postnatal doula?
Absolutely. Postnatal doulas tend to work on an hourly basis, so you can book them for as much time as you need. The services offered vary depending on the doula. Their main role is to help with baby, answer any queries you may have, talk though any concerns and offer you as much support as possible.
Andrea Allen is a baby massage instructor, antenatal/postnatal doula and breastfeeding counsellor. To contact her visit www.thedotingdoulas.com.