What is the role of a doula?

The Doula’s Role in the Family

Doulas are trained to provide physical, emotional, and informational support to the birthing family. They can serve as a translator between the birthing woman and her family as well as between the medical staff and the birth partners. Doulas can help with transportation, child care, food preparation, and other household tasks. They can also provide emotional support for the birthing woman or her partner during labor. Some doulas are trained to perform specific massage techniques (ie, effleurage) that may be of benefit during labor. Some offer classes on relaxation or meditation techniques that can be helpful during labor/delivery. Doulas often assist in non-medical decisions; they may help with planning for a home birth or possibly childbirth education classes. They also are available to help with breastfeeding assistance if necessary after delivery. Many doulas discuss common problems or concerns that women might have while pregnant or after delivery. They can help educate the family about possible risks and problems that may arise and how to cope with them. If the family is not having a home birth, they can also help with transportation to the hospital, if this is necessary.

The Doula’s Role for the Child

Doulas can provide a safe, nurturing environment for the child following birth. Doulas can help with establishing breastfeeding and other aspects of bonding during the early days after delivery. They often offer families education on how to provide a safe, nurturing environment for the baby.

The Doula’s Role in the Family Tree

Doulas are also trained to provide assistance with family medical history including genetic information. Many doulas have access to genetic counselors who can help educate families about possible problems that may be associated with their family history. Doulas can also assist in arranging for appropriate genetic testing prior to or following a pregnancy if there is a family history of genetic abnormalities or other disorders. If the family would like to register their child’s birth with a doula, the doula can assist with obtaining this information at the time of delivery. Many families have expressed an interest in having their baby’s birth registered by a doula. This is highly recommended as many hospital births are not registered by the hospital staff. Registering your baby’s birth with a doula is particularly important if you plan to seek genetic counseling or testing for problems that run in your family. 

How do I hire a Doula? 

Doulas may be hired through one of several ways. Some are hired directly by the family, others are hired through agencies that specialize in providing doulas for home births. Many hospitals now offer either on-staff or contracted doulas who provide services for laboring women in the hospital or, if necessary, following delivery. Some insurance companies also pay for these services as part of their maternity package. Unfortunately, this is not yet common. 

The Doula’s Role in the Community 

Doulas are also becoming more involved in community activities. Many doulas have been trained to offer support to new mothers in the community and to help build a safe, nurturing environment so that babies have the opportunity to thrive. Some doulas also provide support for families who have had children with special needs or who may be coping with a disabling situation. Doulas can provide vital emotional support to these families as they cope with their new lives and their children’s specific needs. Many doulas offer classes and workshops on family support, breastfeeding, family bonding, sibling issues, and home safety. These types of activities are particularly helpful for parents and child care providers who want to learn how to better provide a safe, nurturing environment for children at home as well as in other community settings such as day care centers or schools. The information provided by doulas is extremely important for people providing care for children in the community. 

The Doula’s Role in the Business World 

Doulas can provide support for employees who are pregnant or caring for newborns. They can provide information about breastfeeding, family support, and bonding to help parents cope with their new responsibilities. Doulas can also provide a safe, nurturing environment for the children of employees. This is particularly important in the business world as many women feel that they must choose between having a family and having a career. By providing this support, companies can help retain valuable employees while encouraging them to have families if they choose to do so. 

The Doula’s Role in the Workplace 

Doulas can also provide support for employees who are caring for an ill or elderly family member. They can help caregivers define their role and how to best fulfill this role so that they can continue to work while providing care to their family members. The information provided by doulas is extremely important for people providing care for children in the community. It is also important for employees who want to help provide a safe, nurturing environment so that patients or residents at work or at home have the opportunity to thrive. 

How do I find a Doula? Most doulas are listed in local telephone directories under “childbirth educators”, “home birth midwives”, or “professional organizers”. Many hospitals now offer either on-staff or contracted doulas who provide services for laboring women in the hospital or, if necessary, following delivery. Some insurance companies also pay for these services as part of their maternity package. Unfortunately, this is not yet common. 

What should I expect from a Doula? 

In order to work effectively with a doula, you must choose a doula who is a good match for you and your partner. If you and your partner are open to any suggestions or advice that she may offer, then the outcome will be much more positive than if you are not willing to listen to her suggestions. Doulas can only work effectively with women who are open to new ideas and willing to hear the opinions of others. It is important for parents-to-be to remember that although the doula may offer assistance with child care, household tasks, transportation, etc., this is not her job; she is there primarily for emotional support during labor/delivery and the postpartum period. It is also important that families understand that it will be very difficult for a doula to provide emotional support if the family is not open to her suggestions and advice. It is also important for families to remember that doulas are not medical professionals; they are trained to offer emotional and informational support but they are not trained in the skills necessary to care for a newborn. Doulas can assist with basic care such as keeping the baby warm, swaddled, and fed but they are not trained to care for special needs babies or sick newborns. If you need help with a specialized situation, you should contact your pediatrician or contact your community’s health department. 

What does it cost? 

The cost of hiring a doula varies from $300-$800 depending on where you live, what type of service you need (ie, whether you want someone present during labor/delivery), how long you want the doula’s services (ie, just during labor/delivery or for several days following delivery), etc. It may also be possible to get a doula’s services for free through one of your state’s maternal and child health programs. To learn more about doula options in various states around the United States, see our article on finding a doula