While it is a perfectly natural process, having a baby is very demanding on the body, child and mother. Birth doulas can help take some of the pain and angst out of birth and provide the couple with much needed emotional support and resources.
“Families who work with doulas typically require less (if any) pain medication and medical intervention,” said Nichi Hirsch Kuechle, a birth doula of 16 years. “When a doula is present, moms less frequently request pain medication and often see labors that are shorter than those where doula support is not present.”
A surprising aspect for many couples is that the birth doula supports both the partner and mother.
“Many dads think a birth doula is for the mother only,” Kuechle said, “but now dads request the doula support to make them more available for their partner. We help keep the communication open and the partner empowered as well.”
Birth doulas work with the couple beforehand to educate them on comfort measures and birthing positions. Before the birth, couples may take private birthing classes together (Nichi is also a Bradley Natural Childbirth Educator) to learn about the labor process. The education provides parents with how to manage pain, explains what is happening to mom on a physiological and emotional level so they better understand how to meet her needs during labor and delivery and how to utilize nutrition as a foundation for staying healthy and low-risk.
During the actual birth, doulas will change the woman’s position to mitigate pain, support the woman in breathing and relaxation, advocate for the mother and continuously reassure and comfort the couple.
Research shows doulas help. According to the World Health Organization, women who use doulas will have shorter labor, less anxiety about the birth, fewer complications and an easier time breastfeeding. The American Pregnancy Association reports that having a doula decreases the cesarean rate by 50%, reduces the labor process by 25% and lessens the request of epidurals by 60%.
Here are some things for parents to consider if using birth doulas:
- Do your research. Conduct a simple Google search to find doulas in your area. You can also ask for recommendations from your doctor or friends who have had babies.
- Ask questions. When you contact a doula, consider asking what training the doula has, how long they have been working in this field and what made them want to become a doula.
- Get recommendations. Ask your potential doula for recommendations of couples that had births with him/her.
- Make sure the doula is available on your due date. Check what contingency plans the doula has if she/he is not available on your requested date.
- Trust your instincts. Have a conversation with the doula to see if she/he matches your family’s needs to be loved and supported. Make sure you all feel comfortable with one another.
- Find out what services are provided. Ask the potential doula what services are needed or provided before, during and after the birth.
- Sign a contract. Most doulas will meet with couples to go through the process and ask for a contract to be signed. This assures you will get the services you requested.
Prices will vary for doulas but expect to pay around $1,000. Some doulas may charge more or less depending on their experience. There are also options for free doulas or students who are finishing their training.
As an example, Kuechle charges $1,197. Her fees include an in-home visit, support of active labor through the actual birth and a few hours after. She also provides a postpartum visit and coaching calls with the family. For more information on the services Kuechle provides, contact her at (612) 418-3801 or by email.
“Our job is to help families feel supported and empowered during their birth no matter what kind of experience they are creating for themselves” Kuechle said.
© Let’s Talk Kids, LLC 2013