By Keira Morè
Have you ever wondered what a doula is and how one could help you? Whether you’re a first-time mom or you’ve been down this path before, no two births are ever the same. Knowing what support options you have is incredibly important.
We sat down with Keira Morè Doula, Childbirth & Lactation Educator, to answer some of your questions regarding what doulas do, how you can find one, and why it might be an excellent option for you.
What can a doula provide a mom and/or mom-to-be?
A doula can provide physical, emotional, and non-bias informational support to a birthing person and their family and/or partner. That can look like massage and counter pressure during the actual labor, actively listening to a pregnant person or new parent, and providing the most up-to-date research.
A doulas job is to give continuous support during the most significant transition a person can physically and emotionally ever face.
What’s the difference between a doula and a midwife?
A midwife has a medical license, and a doula does not. Doulas do not provide any medical care. They work well together, but one certainly does not replace the other. OBs, midwives, and doulas all have their responsibilities and fill in any gaps that the other one leaves.
At what point should a mom and/or mom-to-be hire a doula?
There’s a misconception that one shouldn’t hire a doula until they are well into their pregnancy, and I wholeheartedly disagree. A doula is a support system; why wouldn’t you want help for as long as possible?
Some moms call me when they start to think about having a baby, and others wait until 38 weeks. Neither one is “wrong,” but I think the more support, the better. The longer you work with your doula, the better your experience will be!
I want to get to know you the best I can so you feel comfortable and safe with me. I want you to know me too. I want to know the best way to support you. That trust comes with time. It’s a very intimate relationship.
How does a mom and/or mom-to-be go about finding a doula?
Word of mouth, asking doctors and midwives, or online. As a starting point, look at a doula’s website and social media. It’s a way of seeing if they may be a good fit for you.
What are 3 misconceptions about doulas?
- That we’re all hippies.
- That we replace the need for a partner and “takeover.”
- We judge what informed choices you make for yourself and your family. If you feel judged by your doula, PLEASE find another one!
What are 3 ways a doula can make the childbirth experience better?
- Make sure you are as informed as you can be to advocate for yourself and have the birth of your dreams.
- Help with the physicality of labor and childbirth, and make you as comfortable as possible.
- An additional support layer to create a safe space for you.
Are there doula services across different price points?
Yes, absolutely! Most doulas I know will work on a sliding scale to accommodate people from different socio-economic backgrounds. The more awareness doulas get, the more organizations pop up to help pair birthing people with support. Hospitals are also starting to provide doulas to patients. Newer doulas charge less than established doulas.
How can moms with varying socio-economic considerations benefit from doulas?
I think they can benefit a lot. It’s no secret that the maternal mortality rate in America is one of the highest in the developed world. The maternal mortality rate for black women specifically, across all socio-economic backgrounds, is disproportionately high. According to a Harvard Public Health Magazine article, “African American women are three to four times more likely to die during or after delivery than are white women.”
Generally, moms who come from lower-income brackets have less access to education, which means they are not aware of their options. They simply do not receive the same sort of care.
A doula can fill in that gap. They can help educate, which gives the birthing person more power and control. They can also advocate, which is of the utmost importance in specific settings.
Hospitals have liability concerns that can override patient needs at times. It’s always best to know your options and have the right people in your corner advocating on your behalf.