All The Goodness You Get With A Birth Doula
A birth doula is professionally trained in how to support families during pregnancy, labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum. A doula does not perform any medical procedures but instead provides you and your partner with continuous emotional, physical, and informational support. A doula does not have an agenda, give advice, or assume there is a “right” way to give birth. Your goals are her goals, and a doula offers education and information so you can make informed decisions that are congruent with your family’s needs and values. A doula is attentive to your hopes and fears, respectful of your choices, and inspires confidence in your ability to labor and birth. Here's what's minimally included in the birth doula packages offered by our affiliated doulas:
Complimentary attendance at our biweekly Pregnancy Support Circles.
Discounts on our Brave Birth Classes & Workshop.
Community referrals and resources.
2-3 prenatal appointments focused on support, preparation, and education.
Completion of a birth preference worksheet (a.k.a.: a “birth plan”).
24/7 on-call services from 38-42 weeks (earlier if there is a preterm labor concern).
Access to our extensive network of Brave Birth back-up doulas.
Continuous labor support for you and your partner until your baby arrives.
Up to 2 hours of immediate postpartum support and initial breastfeeding help.
1-2 postpartum visits to process the birth, discuss newborn care and breastfeeding, and supporting your transition.
Complimentary attendance at our weekly Parent Support Circles.
Opportunities to meet and hire Brave Birth postpartum doulas and lactation consultants.
All The Goodness You Get With A Postpartum Doula
Postpartum doulas ensure that your transition to becoming a parent is as smooth as possible. A postpartum doula comes to your home after the baby is born and shares her extensive knowledge, skills, and expertise with you as a way of helping your family settle into the "new normal." Here's some of what's included in postpartum doula services:
Answers to all your newborn questions.
Help with basic breastfeeding and bottlefeeding.
Infant soothing techniques.
Maternal recovery and healing after birth.
Info on how to use all that baby gear you bought.
Setting up nursing and diaper changing stations in your home.
Light household chores and cooking.
Caring for your baby so you can get some sleep (maybe you've heard that's a thing).
Our doulas range in experience and number of years in practice and their fees reflect that. The more experienced the doula, the higher the investment.
The range of investment for Birth Doula Care is $900-$2,100.
The range of investment for Postpartum Doula Care is $25-$45 per hour.
Some Brave Birth doulas offer a sliding scale to those in honest need (they typically note this offering on their bio page), and most of our doulas offer payment plans.
Clients frequently report that Brave Birth Doula Care was one of the best investments they made in caring for their family during this important time of transition. We hope you feel the same!
More About Birth Doulas
Benefits Of Hiring A Birth Doula
The many benefits of hiring a birth doula are recognized by the World Health Organization and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Several studies show that a doula’s continuous support, practical knowledge, and labor enhancing techniques help to reduce pain and anxiety during labor, and, when there is less pain and anxiety, labor is more likely to progress without the need for interventions. Research shows that a doula’s presence during labor, birth, and immediate postpartum results in the following positive outcomes:
a more satisfying birth experience
a lower rate of cesarean births
a reduction in requests for epidurals
a reduction in the use of pitocin (a contraction induction method)
fewer vacuum assisted deliveries
a better understanding of the choices available to patients
an increase in successful breastfeeding and bonding
a reduction in “baby blues” and postpartum depression
How Doulas Work With Partners
The role of the partner, family member, and/or friend during labor is essential. The laboring person needs to know that her partner is there for her and that they are on this journey together. A doula encourages partners to be the primary source of emotional support and does not attempt to replace the partner’s important role.
Most partners are inexperienced with childbirth and unsure of how to offer their loving support during this unique experience. Even the most attentive partner may be overwhelmed by the hospital environment, the changes unfolding in the laboring person, and the emotions that surface in anticipation of the baby’s arrival. While childbirth educators do their best to equip partners with useful information and techniques, it is simply too much to expect partners to remember everything and to instinctively know how to assist a person through labor.
A doula’s knowledge, skills, and expertise allow your partner to be less pressured and more present. The doula will offer practical suggestions, information, and techniques as needed, which allow partners to be much more relaxed, loving, and emotionally present. A doula also watches out for partners by making sure they understand what’s happening, providing them with insider tips, making sure they take care of their own bodies (still gotta eat and drink and use the bathroom), and a doula can make it possible for partners to take much needed breaks for rest or sleep.
There are also times when the labor or birth process can get intense or when things may take an unexpected turn. In these circumstances, partners may need as much emotional and informational support as the laboring person and your doula can step in to reassure and care for the entire family.
How Doulas Work With Medical Staff
A doula does not perform any medical procedures but does work collaboratively with the hospital staff to create a supportive team atmosphere during your labor and birth.
An experienced doula knows how to create good rapport with your nurses, midwives, and doctors while simultaneously advocating for your choices, needs, and desires.
A doula helps you to voice your needs and choices without becoming confrontational or disrespectful and works to maintain the delicate balance between respecting hospital protocols and ensuring your autonomy.
Who Hires A Birth Doula?
Virtually anyone preparing for the experience of labor and birth can benefit from the presence of a birth doula, including:
People Desiring A Natural Childbirth
A doula is well equipped to effectively support people’s efforts to avoid pain medications and interventions and to have a normal vaginal delivery. A doula’s skill set is made up of emotional, physical, and informational tools designed to help you achieve the experience of natural childbirth within a hospital setting.
People Who Want An Epidural Assisted Birth
A birth doula can enhance the experience of people who desire pain relief medications by providing useful information about epidural procedures, suggesting appropriate stages to receive an epidural, recommending in-bed positions that enhance labor’s progression, offering suggestions on how to minimize the “cascade effect” leading to undesired interventions, answering all of your questions along the way, and assisting with the important transition into bonding and breastfeeding.
People Planning A Home Birth
In a home birth setting, a birth doula can provide you with a less formal and more intimate relationship than the one you have with your midwife. She’s the professional you can call up on the phone to talk through whatever is on your heart and mind as you walk the zig-zaggy path of pregnancy. During labor, a doula provides continuous emotional and physical support at home while your midwife focuses on your medical care. A doula can also offer reassurance to your partner or any other family members who might be present.
People Striving For A Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC)
A doula may be one of the most important and effective resources available to parents striving for a VBAC. Not only does a doula know how to help you avoid unnecessary interventions that could contribute to the need for another cesarean but also knows how to help you process your previous birth experience as part of your preparation for VBAC. A doula can offer indispensable reassurance and encouragement as you strive for the VBAC experience.
People With High Risk Pregnancies or Births
Some pregnant people have a higher risk of encountering labor and birth complications due to conditions such as hypertension, pre-eclampsia, diabetes, etc. A doula can help relieve some of the anxiety and tension generated by these conditions by offering clear information and explanations, by helping you to find additional methods of managing your condition, and by ensuring that you will have continuous support and information throughout your labor and delivery.
What Doulas Actually Do In The Birth Room
People frequently ask us what doulas actually do at births and our answer goes something like, “Well, it really depends. We tailor our services to each client’s particular needs, but basically we offer families professional support during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum.” While this answer does faithfully represent our services and dedication to individualized care, it does not always satisfy the inquiring mind that asked. Often what the person is really wondering about is the hands-on nitty-gritty of what we do when we're at a birth. So, in an attempt to make our doula skills more transparent and understandable, here’s a list of things we typically do for clients who are in labor (please note that this is not a complete list, nor does it include the types of support offered during pregnancy or in the immediate postpartum):
We hold hands, ease fears, and normalize the birth process
We show you all the ways a birth ball can be your friend
We squeeze aching hips and apply counter-pressure to sore backs
We encourage partners to bring on the love
We help you stay in the moment and take it one contraction at a time
We answer questions and provide reassurance
We fill the tub and get the shower ready
We laugh at your jokes and make some of my own
We encourage, encourage, encourage
If you hit “a wall,” we help you climb right on over it
We slow down communications with hospital staff and ask important questions
We respect any and all decisions you make (no judgment anywhere)
We remind the hospital staff of your hopes and preferences
We guide you on how to use your breath during contractions
We listen with compassion to what you and your partner are thinking and feeling
We massage your shoulders and help you release tension
We suggest positions that help labor progress
We put heating pads and ice packs where you want them most
We dig into acupressure points and give awesome foot rubs
We check in with you to see what’s working and what’s not
We help create a positive birth atmosphere
We inform you on the risks and benefits of various medical procedures
We provide evidence based information so you can make informed choices
We quench dry mouths and feed hungry tummies
We strive to help you reach your childbirth goals
We know our way around a hospital room and can find things quick
If you’re using a particular childbirth preparation method, we use it too
We let you know about potential alternatives to medical interventions
If something doesn’t go as planned, we help you ease into and accept this change
We offer partners much needed breaks
We mop sweaty brows with cool wet towels
We dim lights, get warm blankets, and hush beeping machines
We use positions and rebozos to get babies in a good spot
We offer soothing words and visualizations to help you sink in
We suggest a variety of positions for the pushing phase of labor
We take photos to capture memories of this life-changing event
We stay up all night until your baby is born