What is a Doula? A doula is a trained professional who supports families through out the perinatal period. The Doula Services Association has doulas with many different focuses, primarily Birth and Postpartum Doulas, but we also have doulas who support families through (in)fertility, miscarriage, stillbirth and abortion. Doulas provide physical, emotional and informational support to families. They are well informed in both normal physiological needs as well as the more common things families may encounter during their pregnancies, birth and postpartum. Doulas take time to get to know their clients so that they can provide unique, custom tailored support to their clients.
How do I find a Doula? Using our website, you can browse a list of doulas in your area who are available for your due date. All doulas on our referral lists have met specific requirements. Please see Standards of Practice. Follow the instructions on our Find A Doula page to search available, qualified doulas now.
How much does a Doula cost? Is it covered by MSP? Doulas are not covered by the BC Medical Services Plan. Doulas are hired privately by the family and therefore works only for their client. Birth Doulas charge anywhere from $700 to $2000 for a birth package. The average Birth Doula charges between $950 and $1200 for an entire birth contract. Postpartum doulas typically charge anywhere from $25-40 per hour.
What does a birth doula do? A full “doula Package” for a birth is usually two-three prenatal visits at your home, your labour and delivery from when they are invited until baby is born and family is settled and a postpartum visit. At the prenatal visits the doula will go over your birth plan, assess for any gaps in your prenatal knowledge and answer your questions to the best of her ability.
When labour begins, call the doula and they will offer information and attend to your emotional and physical comfort needs in your home and/or the hospital through your entire birth. The doula, due to their prior training and experience may also be able to help you decide when it is a good time to go to the hospital or call your health care provider.
The doula also provides support to your other birth support people through the labour and delivery. During the labour and delivery the doula will remain with you as much as you require. They will help with comfort measures, normalize the sensations and can encourage communication with the health care team.
Once your baby is born the doula usually allows the parents to bond with their new baby and then remains for 1-2 hours postpartum to assist with initial breastfeeding (if you are planning on breastfeeding). When your baby is about 1 week old, the doula comes to your home to make sure feeding is going well, talk about your birth experience and ensure that you are aware of community resources that may be helpful. Once hired, a doula is usually available by phone and/or e-mail for any questions and support up to two weeks postpartum. A doula should ensure adequate back up in the rare case she can not attend.
What does a postpartum doula do? A postpartum doula helps the parents learn to care for and bond with their newborn, by guiding them through the practicalities of newborn care. The teaching that a doula does usually builds the confidence of the parents, allowing them to care for their newborn independently, very quickly. Many postpartum doulas have experience with multiples, premature babies and “fussy” babies. If the family is settled and the postpartum doula still has time she may help with household tasks such as laundry, food prep, light cleaning and childcare to allow the parents time to rest and relax. A postpartum doula can also help with breastfeeding, community resources and informational support for family decisions. The main focus of postpartum doula care is helping the parents integrate the baby into the family.
What is a doula not? A doula is not a medical professional. A doula does not give medical advice, but can provide public medical information, and will facilitate asking questions to get the information you need to make informed choices for your family. A doula does not perform any medical tasks - like vaginal exams, listening to the heartbeat or catching babies etc. Doulas do not make any decisions for their clients, but will help you understand your options.
What are the benefits of doula support? There are many studies that show the benefits of doula support. This one from Evidence Based Birth is great! For birth doulas, the studies reflect:
31% decrease in the use of Pitocin*
28% decrease in the risk of C-section*
12% increase in the likelihood of a spontaneous vaginal birth*
9% decrease in the use of any medications for pain relief
14% decrease in the risk of newborns being admitted to a special care nursery
34% decrease in the risk of being dissatisfied with the birth experience*
Most importantly, doulas help normalize the whole pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience.
Will a doula replace my partner? A doula should enhance the experience for all others attending your birth by providing a calm presence and allow everyone to participate to the level of their comfort. The doula is to provide support for your desired birth and this includes all members of your support team. Many partners feel the doula encouraged them to participate more than they would have without a doula, as the doula could show them comfort measures that could work at the various stages of labour that they would never have known otherwise. Doulas are never there to replace your partner. Doulas make it so your partner can concentrate on loving and supporting you, while the doula takes care of everything else.
Are doulas just for home birthers? What if I want to give birth in hospital, have pain medication or am having a c-section? Doulas support ALL births. Doulas do not have any agenda and offer non-judgmental support. A doula's job is to help you make choices that are right for you - what those choices end up being are not important, so long as they are yours. Doulas are trained to support all kinds of births - at home, in the hospital, with midwives or doctors, medication free or with pain medication, vaginal or caesarean. Different doulas will have different specialties, so be sure to interview a few doulas to find the right one for you!
Are there student Doulas? The term student doula is not a term that doulas use. Our doulas are all trained and have met certain requirements and are ready to provide support to labouring families. DSA doulas have all taken a doula training and do reading, extra classes and study in preparation for this training. All of the doulas on our referral lists have attended a certain number of births and written birth stories about these births which we assess for compliance with our Code of Ethics and Scope of Practice. Once trained, a doula may charge a fee for service. There is no requirement for “practicum” or “volunteer hours” for new doulas.
Can I get a volunteer Doula? People who have do not have the ability to pay for a doula may qualify for a volunteer birth doula. These doulas are actually working for free as there is currently no funding for volunteer doulas. The requirements for a family to have volunteer doula are:
Low income (Single parents, Disability Income, Ministry Income, both parents students, new immigrants, etc.).
A referral from a Health Care Provider, Community Worker or similar professional
A desire to have a doula attend the birth
A commitment to call the doula for the birth or to cancel the services as soon as you know they will not be required
Please call our Referral Coordinator if you require assistance or more information on volunteer doulas.