Why hire a doula for your birth?

Doulas provide many benefits to mothers, babies, and families.  Doulas give you emotional, physical, and informational support.  They support your relationships with the family members you may invite to your birth as well as those with your chosen care providers.  Doulas improve your experience of birth and many measurable medical outcomes as well.

Physician and researcher Dr. John H. Kennell stated, “If a doula was a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.”  Doula support lowers cesarean risk dramatically, shortens labor, has a measurable positive impact on the bond between mother and baby, and also on the mother’s bond and satisfaction with her husband/partner.  Doulas reduce the need for medications and medical procedures that carry risks, including forceps and vacuum extraction.  Doulas even reduce a mother’s risk of postpartum mood disorder.  The benefit of having a doula extends to the hospital and the care provider.  Doulas reduce a myriad of risks for mothers and babies.  Studies also show conclusively that women who have doula support during their births are happier with their experiences and have higher patient satisfaction scores.

So what does a doula do?

Doulas provide non-medical support.  This means that your doula provides care that is geared to reduce your risks, increase your comfort, and provide you with support, leaving clinical tasks such as monitoring and diagnosis to your caregivers.  Doulas use a variety of techniques to help your labor progress normally, reduce your pain and discomfort, and to help you made decisions about your care that reflect your values and needs.  A doula encourages and assists you in having excellent communication with your care providers.  Additionally, and unlike other caregivers during your birth, your doula is with you continuously and is focused only on you.  Doulas do not give medical advice, make clinical assessments or diagnoses, or interfere in your relationship with your healthcare providers.

Will my insurance cover the cost of my doula?

Certified doulas can provide an NPI number and are often payable through your HSA.  While the number of insurance companies that reimburse for doula services are still small, they are growing.  Reimbursement usually requires some persistence and submitting the claim several times. Discuss the documentation required with your doula in advance to make sure all requirements are met.

Is certification important?

Certification is very important.  A doula who earns and maintains certification is accountable to her international certifying body (I love CAPPA) to uphold the Code of Conduct and practice within the Scope of Practice for doulas.  Certification requires that a doula work within set standards and parameters for the profession, and show proof of continuing education for recertification.  In addition, insurance companies may refuse to consider reimbursement or disallow HSA coverage for an uncertified doula.  Different certifying organizations have different scopes of practice and professional standards; be sure to ask the doulas you’re interviewing about their certification process, standards, and whether the organization they are affiliated with is internationally recognized.

How do I select the right doula for me?

Selecting the right doula is a highly personal decision.  While it is important to ask questions about certification, experience, professional standards, and fees, it’s equally important that you feel you can connect personally with your doula.  I would encourage you to narrow down your list via email and phone interviews, selecting no more than three doulas to interview in person with your primary support person/partner.  Look for someone who listens to you, who shows a desire to support a harmonious relationship with your birth team (your midwife/doctor and any staff at your birth location), and with whom both you and your primary support person/partner feel connected.

What do doulas charge?

Doula services vary in cost depending on what part of the country you live in and on the experience level and skills of the doula.  In the Denver metro area, certified doulas range from $700 – $1800 or more for a service package consisting of two or more prenatal visits, phone and email support, several weeks of on-call time, back-up coverage, labor support throughout your birth, and one or two postpartum visits. Visit our investment page to find out more about the investment of a doula.

I’m on a budget and can’t afford typical doula fees for my area.  What do I do?

One option is to work with a doula in process of certification.  These are doulas who have been through doula training and are working on completing the remainder of their requirements.  Fees can be somewhat lower for doulas who are seeking to increase their experience or are still needing evaluations for births in order to certify.  Click here for more information on certifying doulas.