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Everything You Need to Know About Doulas

Nicole Stone | | Comments 0

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Finding out you are pregnant can cause a range of emotions. Once the initial excitement fades, the reality of labour can fill your every thought! To navigate your feelings, the options for childbirth, and the preparation during your pregnancy, many people seek the support of a birth doula! You may have heard the term “doula” before, but never really understood what a doula was, and if this kind of support may be right for you and your partner. 

Doulas can assist in all kinds of birth environments and are meant to instill confidence in you while you navigate the early stages of parenthood. Keep reading as we break down everything you need to know! 

What Does a Doula Do? 

Doula = Support. A doula’s role is to support a birthing person through pregnancy and labour. Doulas are not only hired to support the birthing person; they also support their partner too! Sometimes partners want to help but they just don’t know how. Doulas can help put you in the right place at the right time, so partners can fully support their loved ones.  

Doulas can tailor their support to their clients’ specific needs. They help the birthing parents plan for the birth of their child by exploring options and giving unbiased evidence-based information. Doulas support ALL birth options. This helps instill confidence in the birthing parents, so they can make educated decisions around their birth plan.  

Doulas are taught to support various comfort measures during labour and help with early postpartum care, especially supporting the new parent with feeding support! Birth is unique to everyone; no two birth stories are the same. Talking through all scenarios can be helpful despite your birth wishes, knowing how all situations could potentially play out can reduce trauma during birth.  

Tip: If tensions are high and plans are changing quickly when you’re in labour, ask for one minute alone with your partner to process before moving to the next steps. This “holding of space” or “freezing of time” can help greatly when processing your birth later. Often when things don’t go as planned, taking time in the moment to process can really help. Doulas can help advocate for this time.  


What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Doula? 

Doulas are trained to help alleviate stress and fear of the unknown around birth and labour. Sometimes doulas are hired because there is an absence of family and friends around and birthing people are looking for someone to hold their hand and tell them everything will be okay! Sometimes doulas are hired to ease anxiety around labour and help instill confidence. Labour can be a mental game; doulas can help provide calming techniques and put your body in optimal birthing/labour positions to make labour shorter and less painful. Of course, this all depends on what kind of birth you are interested in, and the outcomes are unique to your situation. Studies have concluded that the presence of a doula with continuous support resulted in better birth outcomes, meaning less need for medical intervention.   

To help clarify the role of Doulas, here is a breakdown: 

Doulas Do Not:  

  • Catch the baby 
  • Do anything medical 
  • Do not force clients to have a certain kind of birth  
  • Perform any kind of examinations for medical purposes 
  • Do not take over the role of the partner 

Doulas Do:  

  • Support emotionally, help the birthing person and partner work through any fear or anxieties they may have around birth and postpartum  
  • Support physically with labour comfort measures  
  • Educate with options that support all kinds of birth  
  • Help to facilitate communication between parents and care providers 
  • Creating/holding space for birthing parents  
  • Support you in whatever decisions you make and help advocate for you in your birthing environments 
  • Offer continuous support   


What’s the Difference Between a Doula and a Midwife? 

This is a great question! Think of the midwife as being baby-focused and the doula parent-focused. Of course, midwives and doulas have cross functions, both with the birthing parent and baby. The main difference, the midwife will assist in anything medical and assist in the actual birth of the baby! The doula is more of a coach, with their main focus to be supporting emotionally, physically, and with information! The environment with both can look like a midwife checking babies heart rate, then charting, while a doula is doing the birth sway with the birthing parents encouraging calm.  This duo makes a really great team when paired together!  


Are There Different Kinds of Doulas? 

I bet you didn’t know there are many different kinds of doulas! Birth, postpartum, bereavement, and full spectrum to name a few. The most popular kinds tend to be the birth and postpartum doulas. We’ve outlined above what the role of a birth/labour doula is.    

A postpartum doula provides families with information and support around feeding, physical and emotional recovery from birth, and new coping skills for parents. All doulas offer different levels of support, some postpartum doulas may even assist in meal prep and light housework. More commonly, postpartum doulas can assist in overnights, doing a feed while the parents sleep to give the new parents a break!  

A full spectrum doula is someone who could work with a family from preconception (think anything and everything about making a baby), pregnancy, birth, and also pregnancy loss and miscarriage, etc. These doulas, while not medical doulas, may have a previous medical background that supports this kind of work.  

A bereavement doula is a trained person who provides emotional support to birthing parents and families that may experience pregnancy loss at any stage.  


What Kind of Training Does a Doula Receive?

A doula does not need to go to a university or college program to be certified, there is no actual governing body that certifies doulas in Canada. Doulas take courses to become certified through organizations.  Depending on what organization you choose to certify with, some courses may be over a weekend, and some may be months long. Part of the certification does involve a lactation consultant course certificate and 2–3 supported births to be certified.  


How Do I Find a Doula? How Much Do They Cost? 

Doulas are best found through word of mouth! Some care facilities even have doula speed dating nights, where you meet eight doulas and pick the one that fits your needs best! Of course, there is a website for this too. DoulaMatch is a wonderful resource for finding doulas in your area. This site lists what the doula offers, along with cost, and can be used to narrow down locations as well! Typically, doulas cost around $800 to $1800 for pregnancy, labour, and postpartum care. Usually what is included is 2 x 1-hour meetings before birth, continuous care while in labour, via text, phone, and in person, and one postpartum visit. Plus, they will answer questions and help with evidence-based information throughout pregnancy as well.  

Final Thoughts 

In conclusion, selecting a birth team that aligns with your needs and values is crucial for a positive childbirth experience. Birth doulas play a pivotal role in providing continuous support to both you and your partner, easing the complexities of childbirth, fostering confidence, and contributing to the narrative of welcoming your precious baby into the world. Their guidance and expertise can truly make a profound difference in the journey to parenthood, ensuring a memorable and empowering transition as your family welcomes its newest member. 

Nicole Stone

Birth Doula

Nicole Stone is a Hamilton-based professional with a background as a Birth Doula in Toronto for five years and a former cafe owner where babies and coffee thrived together. Currently, Nicole serves as the People and Culture Leader at Snuggle Bugz, blending her love for supporting families with her expertise in human resources. She is passionate about birth advocacy and shares her insights through articles on using Doulas in the Snuggle Bugz Learning Centre. With two kids keeping her busy, birth is truly her jam!"

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