Much ado about doulas
Forget about the diamonds, says Ontario, Canada mother of three Karen Campbell: doulas are a girl's best friend.
"I had a doula present at the birth of my youngest child, Harrison, sixteen months ago. The doula knew exactly what I needed and how to support me during labor. She rubbed my lower back, poured warm water over my belly while I labored in the tub, and provided me with support and encouragement. Just having her there gave me a great sense of security."
Hearing a lot of buzz about doulas? Here's what you need to know. There are two basic types of doulas: birthing doulas (who help couples to write a birth plan and then offer support during labor and the first few hours after the birth) and postpartum doulas (who provide a reassuring mix of motherly advice, breastfeeding assistance and hands-on help with household chores like cooking and cleaning during the days and weeks after baby's arrival). Some doulas offer both types of services to their clients, while others specialize in one service or the other.
Virtually unheard of a decade ago, doulas are now well-established players in the birthing arena -- and for good reason. Research has shown that women who use the services of a doula are less likely to require pain medication during labor, a forceps delivery, a cesarean section or to experience a prolonged labor and are more likely to feel satisfied with their birth experience.
The growing body of research supporting doulas makes perfect sense to Ottawa,Canada-area doula Julie Keon: "A doula can boost a woman's confidence in her own abilities and reduce her fear and anxiety. People often tell me that they couldn't have gone through labor without me. Of course, they could have, but it shows how much the support of a doula means to them."
How to find a doula
Sold on the idea of having a doula attend your birth? Here's what to ask when you start shopping around for the right doula:
- Are you accredited through Doulas of North America (DONA)?
- How many births have you attended?
- What is your philosophy about childbirth?
- What role do you see yourself playing at our baby's birth?
- Do you work with a backup doula? If so, could we meet her ahead of time?
- What services do you provide?
- Can you provide us with references?
- What are your fees?
Note: You can expect to pay between $200 and $600 for the services of a birthing doula and a fixed hourly rate for the services of a postpartum doula (rates vary tremendously from one part of the country to another, but $15-$20/hr. is fairly typical).
You can get leads on doulas in practice in your community by contacting your local midwifery practice or childbirth association by visiting DoulaNetwork.com, Doulas of North America or Canadian Doulas.