Doulas have been around for a very long time, however, only in recent years, have more doulas gone through official training and certification. I utilized a doula in 2 of my 4 births, but still, really did not grasp all that they did. I took my training through DONA in June 2013 and have had a fun time hearing and seeing people react to what I do. Since it is World Doula Week, March 22-28, I’ve decided to write up the 8 Most Common Misconceptions of a Doula post. So here we go!!
1. I thought doulas were only used in natural home birth situations
Me too!! When I first heard the term ‘doula’, I thought of people living on a commune, growing their own food, letting their hair go au naturale, wearing long skirts and tie dye… Now I will admit, I MAY be some of those and others sound very appealing (do you know how long it takes to shave my legs and wash my hair with 3 kids and a water heater you have to race against?!), but if you saw me out in public, you’d probably never guess I was a doula. Yes, doulas attend home births, but more often than not, you’ll see them in a hospital. One local hospital even has badges certified or certifying doulas can obtain, allowing them access to doorways without waiting and not being counted as a patient’s number of ‘allowed’ guests. We are not just for home and natural births! Read on 😉
2. Oh, I’m planning an epidural, doulas are only for natural births.
Not true! Doulas may be more of an asset then you think. When moms have a pain med-free birth, they are able to move around, utilize gravity, and get into positions to help open their pelvis and bring baby down. With a ‘light epidural’, mom can usually move around a bit in bed, but if she chooses to not use a light epi, she is confined typically only on her sides of back in bed and is limited in her ability to move around and help baby down and out. A doula can help mom reposition, use different ‘tools’ for comfort, get her or her partner water, ice, food.
3. I’m having a scheduled cesarean, what can a doula do for me?
So much! Doulas can help with any anxieties or fears you are having. Help you write a gentle cesarean and postnatal plan, share anxiety reducing techniques, stay with you throughout surgery and into recovery while your partner goes to the nursery with baby, help establish nursing and offer breastfeeding support. Visit you after you’ve gone home to see how you’re doing and continue to offer postnatal support.
4. My husband thinks a doula will do ‘his job’…
This is a common worry of many dads. They think the doula will come in and take over their role. A good doula will meet with her clients beforehand to discuss the couples wants and needs. Is dad hands on? Would he rather be hands off? If dad is a hands on kind of guy, a doula will stay back, guide dad when needed, help keep unwanted guests out of the room, update family/friends in the waiting room (with permission), grab food and drinks, etc. Doulas are not there to replace dad and often times support dad more than mom.
5. I viewed them as the acting doctor/nurse when there are none present
We doulas are often thought of as medical personnel and this isn’t true. We do not provide any clinical tasks, only providing emotional, physical, and informational support to mom, her partner, and her birth team, before, during and after birth.
6. I had only seen them from those TLC shows and they were ALWAYS over the top touching the mom and telling them what to do and what she was/would be feeling and whatnot
With any provider you see, you are going to find them falling all over the spectrum. Some will support a more natural birth, others will want to do things their way on a time table. This is no different than what you will find with doulas and why it’s so important to interview several to find the doula that fits you best. Some WILL be more hands on and wanting to step in and ‘take over’ with their clients wanting that, but there are so many of us that respect our clients and their birth space. We step in when invited and step back when we see mom and partner are doing fine on their own (most often the case).
7. Any time I saw a doula on a reality TV show, I never saw the partner in any of those situations. I thought they were for single moms.
Doula’s can be a wonderful asset to single moms or moms that are not receiving a lot of support from their family/friends. A woman can give birth without support, but having a positive influence present at birth, can make a world of difference, even if that person is observing.
8. Doulas are just way over priced, I won’t be able to afford one
Yes, doulas are an investment, ranging on average between $500 to $1000+, but like Financial analyst Suze Orman said recently on her show Can I Afford it? on CNBC, “You cannot afford to NOT get a doula, it is a NEED not a want.” See the video clip HERE.
We want our clients to have the best possible birth experience, however, it is a good deal of work for us and we do have expenses. Most doulas will attend 2-3, 1-3 hour prenatal visits, remain on-call 4 weeks surrounding a clients birth, unlimited time exchanging conversations via phone/email/text/Facebook and at a clients birth, and at least one postnatal visit. Aside from client interaction, doulas are continuously educating themselves through workshops, seminars, and courses. If anything doulas are UNDERPRICED! Doulas truly love their ‘job’, we don’t want a woman to go without support due to finical burdens. Most will work out payment plans, barter, and exchange services, just ask!
Do your research, find a doula that matches you, and have a FANTASTIC birth experience!