Common Questions About Doulas

Never had a doula? Thinking about hiring one? Read this to help you make a decision.

Why Would I Want a Doula?

  • Do you believe that the way a baby is born matters? Do you hope for a positive birth, both for the baby and for the mama?
  • Do you feel that it would be good to prepare yourself for the birth, but you don’t really know where to start?
  • Do you feel anxious or worried about giving birth, either because it’s your first time or because you have had a difficult experience in the past?
  • Do you feel like you could do with some extra emotional support? Would you like to have someone who is simply there for you and doesn’t judge you for whatever it is you’re feeling?
  • Do you feel unsure about the interventions that are being offered to you and don’t know where to find information? Or are you worried that medical professionals will not listen to your preferences and concerns?
  • Do you think it would help to have someone by your side who has experience with birth and knows a thing or two about coping with pain, supporting the labour process, remaining calm and reminding you of the power within yourself?
  • Would you like to have continuous support during pregnancy, birth and the first months after – from the same person, someone who takes time to talk to you and get to know you and your family?

If any of this resonates for you, a doula might be just right for you.

 

How much does a doula cost?

The price for our Wellmama doula birth package, including four antenatal visits, on-call support from 38/39 weeks of the pregnancy until the birth, and two postpartum visits is currently 350 Euros while we are still gaining experience (the full price will be 900 Euros).
Have a look at our services for more details.
We also offer free support in some cases (for example for women in Direct Provision centres). Give us a call or send us a message, and we can explore options.

I am going to have my baby in the hospital, do I need a doula?

Really, anyone, anywhere can have a doula – doulas are not just for women who want homebirths (although we are happy to support those too!). She will be allowed into the delivery room in addition to your partner if this is arranged beforehand with the hospital. Your doula has a whole toolkit of non-medical pain relief methods and ways of keeping you calm and focused. She knows you and your birth preferences. She will support you in your choices, and offer emotional support if there are any changes in the plan. She will be with you every step of the way, from early labour at home to the labour ward and all the way to the birth of your baby!
*Note that there currently are restrictions in most Irish hospitals due to the coronavirus outbreak, limiting the number of birth partners to ONE (either partner OR doula). However, birth workers across Ireland are in the process of challenging this policy, and need women’s support in demanding that they can bring their doula along as well.

I want a homebirth, do I need a doula?

Here are some of the benefits of having a doula for your homebirth.

Your doula might get to you before your midwife. Midwives usually arrive when the woman is in active labour. The early stages of labour can be long, and having the support of a doula can be crucial to keep you calm, relaxed and focused. She can fill the birthing pool, suggest coping strategies and positions, help you get rest, and discuss with you when to call the midwife.

You can choose the doula that is just right for you. In the HSE homebirth service, women do not always have the option to choose between different midwives. Don’t get us wrong: all of the homebirth midwives we have met are lovely and super professional! But with a doula, you can make sure you have someone on your birth team who matches your beliefs, suits your personality and fits in with your specific circumstances, background and family situation.

Your doula is there to support you in any way you need. In addition to breathing with you, massaging you, putting a cold cloth on your fore head, reminding your partner to offer you a drink or a hug, and keeping the atmosphere joyful and calm, she can also help with all the little practical things: Your toddler needs a snack? She’s on it. You would really like to have a few photos of the birth? She’s got it. The midwives need a cup of tea? She’ll make it.

I’ve had one (or two, or more) kids already, why would I want a doula?

Some women do not experience their first birth(s) as positive, let alone empowering or transformative. For some women, birth means pain and fear. Having a doula can be one way of changing what birth means to you, and possibly healing previous traumas, by preparing yourself and making informed choices about what is right for you and your family, and feeling supported and heard throughout – whether this is you first or your fourth or your seventh birth.

Does a doula replace the partner?

Nope (unless you want her to!). Hospitals in Ireland generally accept a birth partner AND a doula at the same time. A doula is there for both of you: to support the mama AND her birth partner in whatever way works for them. This could be: preparing the couple to work together during labour, for example by learning pain relief methods and breathing exercises; helping your birth partner understand the birth process, for example by explaining the sounds you are making and discussing interventions that are offered to you; or by stepping in for a moment and letting you crush your doula’s hand if your partner needs a break.

Does a doula replace the midwives and doctors?

No. A doula is not a medical professional, and she will not be performing any clinical tasks (such as vaginal examinations or monitoring the baby’s heart). She is trained and experienced in emotional and practical support. In addition to the medical care you receive from midwives and doctors, your doula is your personal support: she knows you and your birth partner, she will be by your side the whole time. She is all yours.

Wouldn’t it be weird to have a stranger there for the birth?

Yes, maybe – that depends on how you feel about it. In reality, if you birth in a hospital, you will probably have strangers present in any case (the midwives, doctors and medical students in the hospital), and different people might come and go while you are in labour. In a hospital setting, your doula might actually be the only familiar face for you other than your partner. Because you get to know her during your pregnancy, she won’t be a stranger by the time you’re ready to give birth.

Is there research evidence for the benefits of having a doula?

There is. Women who have a doula – that is, someone they feel safe with and who is there to support them emotionally and practically throughout labour and birth – are significantly more likely to have a “natural” birth (that is, spontaneous vaginal birth), their labour tends to be shorter, fewer of them will need pain medication, fewer will have C-sections, their babies will be less likely in need of intervention after birth, and women with doulas are more likely to feel satisfied with their birth experience. Here is the link to the research:
https://www.cochrane.org/CD003766/PREG_continuous-support-women-during-childbirth.

You can also have a look at these info websites:
https://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/

http://aimsireland.ie/no-epidural-pain-management-alternatives-and-tips/

Why Would I Want a Doula?

  • Do you believe that the way a baby is born matters? Do you hope for a positive birth, both for the baby and for the mama?
  • Do you feel that it would be good to prepare yourself for the birth, but you don’t really know where to start?
  • Do you feel anxious or worried about giving birth, either because it’s your first time or because you have had a difficult experience in the past?
  • Do you feel like you could do with some extra emotional support? Would you like to have someone who is simply there for you and doesn’t judge you for whatever it is you’re feeling?
  • Do you feel unsure about the interventions that are being offered to you and don’t know where to find information? Or are you worried that medical professionals will not listen to your preferences and concerns?
  • Do you think it would help to have someone by your side who has experience with birth and knows a thing or two about coping with pain, supporting the labour process, remaining calm and reminding you of the power within yourself?
  • Would you like to have continuous support during pregnancy, birth and the first months after – from the same person, someone who takes time to talk to you and get to know you and your family?

If any of this resonates for you, a doula might be just right for you.

 

How much does a doula cost?

The price for our Wellmama doula birth package, including four antenatal visits, on-call support from 38/39 weeks of the pregnancy until the birth, and two postpartum visits is currently 350 Euros while we are still gaining experience (the full price will be 900 Euros).
Have a look at our services for more details.
We also offer free support in some cases (for example for women in Direct Provision centres). Give us a call or send us a message, and we can explore options.

I am going to have my baby in the hospital, do I need a doula?

Really, anyone, anywhere can have a doula – doulas are not just for women who want homebirths (although we are happy to support those too!). She will be allowed into the delivery room in addition to your partner if this is arranged beforehand with the hospital. Your doula has a whole toolkit of non-medical pain relief methods and ways of keeping you calm and focused. She knows you and your birth preferences. She will support you in your choices, and offer emotional support if there are any changes in the plan. She will be with you every step of the way, from early labour at home to the labour ward and all the way to the birth of your baby!

*Note that there currently are restrictions in most Irish hospitals due to the coronavirus outbreak, limiting the number of birth partners to ONE (either partner OR doula). However, birth workers across Ireland are in the process of challenging this policy, and need women’s support in demanding that they can bring their doula along as well.

I want a homebirth, do I need a doula?

Here are some of the benefits of having a doula for your homebirth.

Your doula might get to you before your midwife. Midwives usually arrive when the woman is in active labour. The early stages of labour can be long, and having the support of a doula can be crucial to keep you calm, relaxed and focused. She can fill the birthing pool, suggest coping strategies and positions, help you get rest, and discuss with you when to call the midwife.

You can choose the doula that is just right for you. In the HSE homebirth service, women do not always have the option to choose between different midwives. Don’t get us wrong: all of the homebirth midwives we have met are lovely and super professional! But with a doula, you can make sure you have someone on your birth team who matches your beliefs, suits your personality and fits in with your specific circumstances, background and family situation.

Your doula is there to support you in any way you need. In addition to breathing with you, massaging you, putting a cold cloth on your fore head, reminding your partner to offer you a drink or a hug, and keeping the atmosphere joyful and calm, she can also help with all the little practical things: Your toddler needs a snack? She’s on it. You would really like to have a few photos of the birth? She’s got it. The midwives need a cup of tea? She’ll make it.

I’ve had one (or two, or more) kids already, why would I want a doula?

Some women do not experience their first birth(s) as positive, let alone empowering or transformative. For some women, birth means pain and fear. Having a doula can be one way of changing what birth means to you, and possibly healing previous traumas, by preparing yourself and making informed choices about what is right for you and your family, and feeling supported and heard throughout – whether this is you first or your fourth or your seventh birth.

Does a doula replace the partner?

Nope (unless you want her to!). Hospitals in Ireland generally accept a birth partner AND a doula at the same time. A doula is there for both of you: to support the mama AND her birth partner in whatever way works for them. This could be: preparing the couple to work together during labour, for example by learning pain relief methods and breathing exercises; helping your birth partner understand the birth process, for example by explaining the sounds you are making and discussing interventions that are offered to you; or by stepping in for a moment and letting you crush your doula’s hand if your partner needs a break.

Does a doula replace the midwives and doctors?

No. A doula is not a medical professional, and she will not be performing any clinical tasks (such as vaginal examinations or monitoring the baby’s heart). She is trained and experienced in emotional and practical support. In addition to the medical care you receive from midwives and doctors, your doula is your personal support: she knows you and your birth partner, she will be by your side the whole time. She is all yours.

Wouldn’t it be weird to have a stranger there for the birth?

Yes, maybe – that depends on how you feel about it. In reality, if you birth in a hospital, you will probably have strangers present in any case (the midwives, doctors and medical students in the hospital), and different people might come and go while you are in labour. In a hospital setting, your doula might actually be the only familiar face for you other than your partner. Because you get to know her during your pregnancy, she won’t be a stranger by the time you’re ready to give birth.

Is there research evidence for the benefits of having a doula?

There is. Women who have a doula – that is, someone they feel safe with and who is there to support them emotionally and practically throughout labour and birth – are significantly more likely to have a “natural” birth (that is, spontaneous vaginal birth), their labour tends to be shorter, fewer of them will need pain medication, fewer will have C-sections, their babies will be less likely in need of intervention after birth, and women with doulas are more likely to feel satisfied with their birth experience. Here is the link to the research:
https://www.cochrane.org/CD003766/PREG_continuous-support-women-during-childbirth.

You can also have a look at these info websites:
https://evidencebasedbirth.com/the-evidence-for-doulas/

http://aimsireland.ie/no-epidural-pain-management-alternatives-and-tips/