“We can always control how we care for a woman.” Penny Simkin
Birthing people have always been tended to by their neighbors and families. The most recent model of this care involves doulas. The rise in doula-assisted births has emerged as the medical/technical model of birth has become the norm.
What is a doula and what do we do?
A doula is experienced in childbirth and provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support before, during and after childbirth. We support families in every birthing situation—hospital, birth center and home. We help the family and support team prenatally to explore birthing options. We then base our support during the hours of labor and birth on what is most important. We strive to help everyone at the birth feel helpful and calm.
Why is the doula role important and unique?
We care for a person in labor in a way that helps them feel safe, secure and confident as they face the journey from pregnancy to parenthood. A doula represents both the knowledge of evidence-based best practices and appreciation for the traditional wisdom of birth. We fill the only role in the birth team that offers true continuous care—from the time we are called until the baby is safely snuggled in the parent’s arms. We are there for the family no matter what the length of the birth, or whether the birth includes some or no interventions. We respect and understand birth as a normal process. We do not replace the partner or extended family, but we guide and help them to be supportive and helpful during the labor and birth.
How to find the right doula
The doula who helps you face and embrace what is important to you might be the right one for you. If you can honestly tell them your hopes and fears, and share your dreams for what “good care” might mean to you—this sense of connection and trust will lead you to find the right doula. It is important that you can understand and appreciate the doula’s communication style and are calmed by their physical presence. It’s best to interview doulas in person. DONA offers sample interview suggestions on its website.
Experience and Cost
Several organizations train and certify doulas, including, but not limited to: DONA International, ICEA and ALACE. We expect parents to screen Collective doulas according to what is important to your family. Some doulas opt not to be certified and you are free to ask them why when you interview them. We all set our own fees, which reflects our experience level and additional training. The range of fees is wide; a sliding scale may be used. New doulas looking for experience will often work for a reduced rate, but there are always expenses associated with attending a birth. We encourage a small stipend to help newer doulas getting started in their practice.
What is a postpartum doula?
A postpartum doula is a doula who supports the new family in their home in the days and weeks following birth. They help with basic household tasks like food preparation, dishes and laundry, play with older siblings, care for baby while parents rest, and provide a listening ear and resources if parents need more support.