Friday, February 15, 2013

Why Should I Pay for a Doula?

Doula Jeanne Stolaas
I occasionally have a mother ask me this question. She thinks a doula is a great idea, but her sister's friend in Timbuktu had a doula provided in the hospital and she didn't pay a penny! What her sister's friend didn't realize is that the doula WAS being paid...she was a hospital employee. Unfortunately in Huntsville, AL, we don't have any hospitals hiring doulas yet.

So just what is it that makes a doula such an important part of the birth process? After all, Dad is there, and maybe Grandma is there, so who needs one more person crowding the room? That's a good question. Let's look at just what a doula does.

The Doula's Role

  • She is there exclusively to focus on the mother and to use her extensive training to help the mother achieve the birth she wants.
  • She is better equipped than Dad or Grandma to advocate for the mom with the hospital staff.
  • Because she's not emotionally involved, she can make more level-headed decisions.
  • She is able to provide one-on-one training prior to the birth so that Mom and Dad will both know what to expect and will feel comfortable and confident with her presence.
  • She is just a phone call away any time Mom has a question during the pregnancy.
Doula Brittany Berghammer
So does having a doula really make a difference? Research has found that women who have one-on-one professional labor support tend to have shorter labors, fewer complications and healthier newborns, according to Jeanne Stolaas of Doula Birthing Assistant Care. The theory behind this statistical outcome is that mothers who have professional labor support produce lower levels of stress hormones than women left alone or attended by inexperienced coaches.  

The Doula's Fee

Not all doulas are certified. Sometimes a doula will actually accept clients for free when she is seeking her certification. There are three major certifying organizations for doulas, all of which certify internationally: DONA, CBI and CAPPA.  Each of these organizations requires prospective doulas to complete a program of training that includes reading, training in doula skills, understanding of the doula mentality, adherance to the doula scope of practice, attending births and testing. None of these certifications is cheap! However, the women who are passionate enough about helping other mothers during birth view the cost as an investment. As doula Brittany Berghammer says, "I see so many women who are left to labor alone and scared. I want to empower the mother, to support her and let her know she can give birth naturally without much routine interventions if any at all!" 

Doula Wendy Robertson explains the economics of a doula's fee quite well. Once you understand the commitment required of a doula, it is a little easier to understand why doulas charge what they do. 

Finding a Doula

The best way to find a doula is word of mouth. Ask your friends who have used a doula or ask your doctor for a recommendation. You'll find a list of Alabama doulas here.  Always ask for a preliminary meeting with your doula to see if you are a match personality-wise. Once you find the right doula, you'll know it!!

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