What is a Doula and is she worth the money?

What is a Doula and is she worth the money?

Recently, during a conversation with a friend, she said something that stuck with me for a long time. She said: “Doulas are very unheard of in Germany and it’s probably weird for Germans to pay for a ‘health’ service since it is all free here anyway.”

While it is true you can get a completely free birth in a hospital, allow me to explain why what you get is (in most cases) not enough. Since “health” means more than stopping a bleeding, putting an IV in, delivering a healthy baby, giving a few pills and then sending a mom her way, I felt like I had to explain exactly what a doula does.

A doula is a trained professional, a woman experienced with births, most of the times a mother herself, who prepares the expectant mother and her partner for what lies ahead. She provides emotional and physical support for the mother during pregnancy and into her labor and delivery. She gives confidence to the partner and helps the parents find the path they want for the birth of their child. She answers questions, she comes up with options, she offers resources in the local community, she addresses fears and she helps the parents find their voice and stand up for what they want from their birthing experience.

A doula is not a midwife. She does not take on any medical responsibility, she does not perform any medical procedures and does not make decisions for the parents. During labor, she will inform the parents of what is going on at all times and make sure they are aware of their choices, but the final decision ALWAYS belongs to mother and/or her partner. The doula’s focus is the laboring mother: making sure she is comfortable, that she is surrounded by a peaceful atmosphere, that her needs are met and the pain doesn’t turn into suffering. She will not leave her side at all. She offers massages and pain relief measures, teaches breathing techniques, holds the mother’s hand and accompanies her through this journey with all her heart.

After the delivery, the doula remains with the mother until she is comfortably resting together with her newborn. She can also assist with breastfeeding when required. She will later visit the mother at home, offering more support as the entire family settles in and welcomes the new addition to the family.

It is true that some partners can take over all these roles, but for most of them the labor is just as scary as it is for the mother. They see the one they deeply love suffering and they are unsure of what to do, some find these situations overwhelming and they themselves need the help of a doula. Some partners can not be present because they need to tend to older children or they are traveling for work. Personally, I have the most supportive husband and he was with me during both of my labors. He went through the child-birthing class, he was my birthing coach and still… there were times where he needed to be encouraged, reminded to drink and eat, reassured that everything is okay and I am not dying 🙂 There are many different scenarios and it is for each couple to decide who they want present at the birth of their child.

Now that we clarified what a doula is and what she stands for, let’s see what actually goes into a birth from a doula’s perspective.
She is a trained professional. That means she invested time and money into preparing to assist women and their partners through pregnancy and birth. The amount each doula charges includes not only the hours put into meetings with each client, travel costs, research and information, material costs, messages, encouragement, thoughts she invests in each pregnant woman and the emotional connection, but also the on call status. The long ONE MONTH on call status. She will be available to you for 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after your due date, 24/7.

That means no day trips with her own children, no long distance family visits, no hosting parties or play dates. She must be always ready to go, rested and with all her things packed. She can’t afford having a broken car, an uncharged phone or even walking through a “no signal” area in the city or nearby. Her phone will be her constant companion, she will eat with it on the table, she will sleep with it on the nightstand and she will take a bath with it nearby. No silence mode on. She will have her babysitter paid and on call, her husband ready to jump in when need be, because she has a laboring mother to go to.

A doula invests herself in each birth. She puts a lot of thought into it, a lot of planning and a lot of emotion. For her, the mother is not a second or third patient that day, it’s her ONE AND ONLY and she is 100% there. It’s all about the mother. For hours on end, 10, 20 or even 30 hours…. is all about the mother and the doula will not stop offering one-on-one, hands-on support.

That is what a doula is and what a doula does. Now you tell me, is she worth the money? 🙂

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