Birth Doula FAQs
What is the investment I will make for doula services?
The standard fee for the Birth Doula service is $900.00 + GST. This fee is broken up into several payments. We also provide a sliding scale option to those that qualify. (To qualify you must receive the Manitoba Healthy Baby Benefit or currently receive Social Assistance)
How can a doula help me?
One of your doula's first goals is getting to know the mother and her partner and building a trusting and warm relationship so that by the time your baby is ready to be born you will know and trust all of your support people. Your doula helps you to determine your goals for your birth, and works to help you meet those goals. She can help to clarify information discussed with the doctor or midwife and suggests topics for future discussion with your caregiver. Once your labour begins, she will stay with you throughout your whole labour and delivery, using non-medical pain relief techniques, and providing emotional support. Your doula helps ensure your partner is involved in the birth at a level they are most comfortable with. She is also trained in the physiology of labour, helps explain medical terms and procedures, and keeps everyone calm. After the baby is born, she will help with the initial breastfeeding, and in processing the birth experience. She is also available to answer questions, make suggestions or just lend a friendly ear over the phone before and after the birth.
What can I expect from my doula?
Your doula will meet with you 1-3 times before the birth to answer questions, discuss the birth process and breastfeeding, help with a birth plan if you wish to make one, provide resources and develop a relationship with you and your partner. Once you go into labour, she will be available by phone until you are ready for her to assist you, either at home or in the hospital. She will stay with you throughout your whole labour and delivery, providing comfort, information and support, and taking photographs, if you wish. She will stay for about an hour after the birth, helping you with initial breastfeeding. Your doula will visit you at least two times after the birth to process the birth experience, answer questions, provide resources, and just to talk. Your doula will also provide a birth story for you as a memento of your birth.
A doula is trained to be your emotional support and provide you with comfort measures during your birth. A nurse or midwife is trained to do medical procedures and evaluate the well-being of both mother and child. As shifts change, you may see many different nurses throughout your labour, whereas your doula stays with you continuously. Also, your doula focuses only on you, but a nurse or midwife may have other moms to look after at the same time. Whatever caregivers you choose, doulas works cooperatively with your entire healthcare team.
What is the difference between a nurse or midwife and a doula?
Do I need a doula if I have a midwife?
Absolutely! Although there is some cross-over between the roles of doulas and midwives, there are many important distinctions. Primarily, the midwife's responsibility peaks at the time of the birth, which is when she must be at her most alert to perform her job effectively. This means that she must conserve her energy throughout your labour to perform her job as best she can. This does not mean that midwives do not provide labour support--they do--just that they have many other responsibilities that must take precedence. In contrast, a doula's responsibility peaks during active labour and transition, when you need the most help coping with your contractions. By the time the birth rolls around, the doula has already accomplished most of her work--she has helped you through your labour to the point of delivery. As a result, a doula can afford to use most of her energy in the labour stage. As the midwives are busy setting up for the birth, taking fetal heart tones, charting, and many other important tasks related to monitoring the health of mom and baby, your doula is there with you and your birth partner(s), coaching you through each contraction, heating up your hot water bottle, adding fresh water to your labour tub, and fetching a glass of juice for you, and a mug of tea for your partner. Doulas are also very helpful at homebirths, where an extra pair of hands to help with the clean-up, or whip up a postpartum meal can come in very handy.
“When I became pregnant with our second child, I insisted on having both a midwife and a doula. Many people wondered why I wanted both and wouldn’t just one or the other be okay. I am a big researcher and one point that kept coming up consistently in my research explained that the midwife can concentrate on the baby and the doula can continue to concentrate her efforts on the mother and the father. Having two knowledgeable like-minded people attend my birth was what I wanted and having them working together as a team was incredibly calming for both my husband and myself and the baby during the entire process. A midwife and a doula bring different but compatible strengths to the entire experience. It was like having a family or a team of knowledgeable people surrounding us. So, 16 hours of drug free back labour hours later our daughter (Violet) was born in the hospital and 4 hours after that I went home. The experience was phenomenal and I would do it again in a heartbeat. So, if you can have both a doula and a midwife…go for it, you will never regret it!” Audra, Stephen, Samuel and Violet Penner
Your doula is there to support both you and your partner. From simply letting your partner take a break to reassuring them that what is happening is normal, your doula takes a lot of pressure off of birth partners, who may sometimes feel overwhelmed. Partners may also feel unsure about what to do. A doula will make suggestions, helping them help you.
How does a doula help my partner?
Doulas do not perform medical tasks such as vaginal exams or fetal heart checks. Doulas do not speak to the medical staff on your behalf. Doulas do not make decisions for you.
What doesn’t a doula do?
A doula's goal is to help you have the best birth experience possible, however you define it. If using pain medications is important to you, your doula can educate you about all of your options so you can make an informed choice about what's best for you and your baby. She will help you avoid further intervention, support you and your partner in the early stages of labour when you may still need to utilize other coping techniques before the epidural can be started, and later through the pushing stage.
Do I need a doula if I'm planning to have an epidural?
No. Your doula has training and experience above and beyond what your spouse may learn from a prenatal class. No matter how much experience your spouse has with childbirth, the birth experience can be stressful and confusing, and the presence of a doula frees your partner from the heavy responsibility of being your only support person. Your partner is now free to be loving, supportive, responsive and emotionally involved in the thrill of the birth of your child. Your doula in no way replaces the presence of your partner; she enhances it.
Isn’t my partner my doula?
The earlier the better! Although the number of visits you have with your doula will be the same whether you contact her at 12 weeks or at 35 weeks, the difference is that you'll have someone you know that you can call on with those "Is this normal?" or "What does this mean?" sort of phone calls throughout your pregnancy. As well, the longer you have known your doula, the more of a relationship you will build. Furthermore, we tend to book up very quickly, so it is a good idea to contact us soon, so that we can be sure to have a doula available. That being said, don't assume you're too far along. Give us a call, and we will make every effort to accommodate your request for a doula.
At what point in my pregnancy should I contact a doula?
If you have planned a cesarean birth, a doula is a great help. Your doula will help you be as informed as possible about the surgery and the post-partum recovery. She can also assist you with breastfeeding and/or pumping after the birth. If your caregiver suggests a cesarean at some point during labour, your doula may be able to guide you in asking questions that will help you gather necessary information about the reasons your caregiver recommends a cesarean, the risks and benefits relative to your particular situation, and any alternatives you may have. In this case, you will likely make an informed decision and will therefore be more satisfied with a surgical outcome. She will also help to reinforce that even though a cesarean may not have been your goal, you are still giving birth. She will celebrate with you, facilitate closeness between the new family, and can photograph the baby's first moments for you. Other ways in which a doula might help with a cesarean birth, planned or unplanned, include: -Assisting in relaxation during the administration of the spinal or epidural; -Recording or photographing the birth if circumstances permit; -Facilitating closeness between the new family; -Staying with mom while the surgery is finished when baby and mom's partner go off to the nursery; -Relaying information to mom about the baby; -Helping mom with the initial breastfeeding; -Sharing information about recovery.