Metro Detroit Mommy Guest Blogger: Stella Debiaggi - Stella D. Birthing
A Doula: The key ingredient for your birth experience
You are pregnant, you learned the sex of your child (or not), you've picked the color of the nursery, you have a medical provider with whom you feel connected, the baby shower is planned, the registry filled out, so what could you possibly be missing?
What you are missing is a doula.
What is a doula?
A doula (from the Greek word for servant) is a person who is there to provide educational, physical, and emotional support to a pregnant mom and her partner during the pregnancy until just after the baby is born. There are different types of doulas, but today I'll describe what a birth doula does.
One of the differences is that the doula does not have any medical training. She is there to give you educational, emotional, and physical support. She will be there to give you information if you have any questions, but if any problems arise during the pregnancy or labor, you should always contact your OB or midwife. Your doula is a great sounding board, however, she can’t talk directly to the medical professional on your behalf. Another difference is that the doula will never leave your side. During a hospital birth, nurses come and go, doctors only appear a few times before it is time to push, and both the doctors and midwives might have other patients in labor, but when you hire a doula, you will always have someone there to support you and encourage you.
How to find a birth doula?
There are many certifying agencies for doulas, such as Doulas of North America (DONA), ProDoula, CAPPA...One way to find your doula is to go to one of the certifying agencies' website. Another way is to go to Doulamatch.com. This is a great website where any doula can post their profile and past clients can post reviews. It gives you an overview of most of the doulas in your area. The best way really is to have a friend recommend someone. If you know someone who has given birth with a doula and had a great experience, I would recommend meeting this person and see if she would be a good fit for your upcoming birth. I would recommend interviewing at least a couple of doulas to make sure that you find the one with whom you will feel the most comfortable during one of the most vulnerable times of your life.
What can I expect once I found the perfect doula?
Usually the doula will meet with you for one of two prenatal appointments where you discuss things like your and your partner's vision of the birth, comfort methods, types of medications available, options for newborn procedures, informed consent and more. She is on call from about the 37th week of pregnancy and available to discuss any questions you might have throughout the pregnancy. Once things start to pick up, and the baby makes it known that the arrival might be sooner rather than later, the doula will meet you either at home, at the hospital, or at the birth center. She will stay with you and provide physical comfort like a massage, counter-pressure, heat/cold therapy, or she might stay in the background and let you and your partner have some time together, or she might give some ideas to your partner on some comfort measures that could help you handle the contractions. She is truly there for you and your partner and will do as much or as little as either of you need. The doula will stay with you until about 1 or 2 hours after the baby is born or until everyone has settled, helping with the beginning of breastfeeding if needed.
How much does a doula cost?
The cost of hiring a doula varies from area to area, and it depends on the experience level of the doula, her education, etc. Some may only charge $300, while some may charge $1,200 or more. A good way to estimate how much you can expect to pay is going on doulamatch.net. There you can see how much each doula in your area charges. Don't worry now about the financing; there are different ways that you can afford a doula. You can ask if she would arrange a payment plan (many do), you can add "doula" as an item on your baby registry and collect funds towards hiring a doula, and if you have an FSA account through your employer you might be able to get reimbursed. Be creative; I promise you won't regret it!
When a doula is present at your birth, your risk of having a cesarean birth decreases by 28%, the epidural use decreases by 9%, the use of Pitocin to speed up labor drops by 31%, the likelihood of spontaneous vaginal birth increases by 12%. Have you hired a doula for your birth yet?
Stella Debiaggi is a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator (LCCE) and a birth doula. She has been passionate about everything that surrounds pregnancy and birth for years and feels honored that she gets to share this amazing part of families’ lives with them. Stella and her husband have two children and two dogs and live in Rochester Hills. When she is not helping women feel empowered to own their births and trust their bodies, you can find her making use of the Bachelor in Business at the Miner’s Den in Royal Oak where she works behind the scene as their office manager and bookkeeper. You can find her facebook page at www.facebook.com/StellaBirthProfessional