Doula FAQs

  • Introduction

    A doula is an excellent choice for individuals looking for extended support when dealing with pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions. Unlike a doctor, a doula will be more regularly available for their patient.

    However, to be clear, a doula is not a midwife and doesn't provide medical care. People typically choose to work with a doula while still regularly checking in with a doctor or midwife. A doula is an investment in additional emotional support for the mother, the baby, and any other close family members who need it.
  • What is a doula?

    A doula is a trained professional who gives informational, emotional, and physical support to a mother (and potentially others) going through pregnancy, childbirth, miscarriage, induced abortion, stillbirth, birth complications, and more. While most doulas work with clients for reproductive health conditions, some doulas also help with other life experiences, such as hospice or terminal illness.

  • How to become a doula?

    You don’t need a certificate to be a doula, although this can help your career by verifying legitimacy. Regardless of a certificate, you do need to complete training through a qualified doula training program. The program usually takes between three and five days. After training, most programs require you to attend a few births with paperwork to prove your attendance.

  • How much do doulas make?

    The annual salaries of doulas in the United States range from $28,000 in smaller towns to $96,000 in major cities. A doula’s salary can depend on their experience, where they work, and how much work they take on. Most doulas handle an average of four births per year.

  • How much does a doula cost?

    The national average hourly rate for doulas is $45. Additionally, doulas charge a “flat fee” per birth that can range from $600 in small cities and towns to $2,000 in larger metropolitan areas. As a doula gains more experience, they typically raise their rates to reflect their expertise.

  • What is a death doula?

    A death doula assists with the dying process. Death doulas empower, educate, and encourage clients and their loved ones to make decisions and reach acceptance about an upcoming death.

    People who may benefit from working with a death doula include:
    • Individuals with a terminal illness
    • People nearing the end of their lives
    • Those with a loved one about to pass
  • Are doulas covered by insurance?

    Most insurance providers don't cover doulas. However, some states offer coverage for birth doulas under Medicaid programs. To check if you have coverage, contact your insurance provider directly. It's also essential to ask for more details, such as if you get partial or full coverage, if there's a maximum, and if you have to work with a certified doula.

  • What is a postpartum doula?

    Postpartum doulas are trained to help mothers and babies in the weeks or months immediately after birth. They may answer specific questions, help the mother with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, explain how to soothe the baby, and more. This can be especially helpful for new mothers who are going through the process for the very first time.

  • What is the difference between a midwife and a doula?

    Doulas don't provide medical care and don't deliver babies. If a medical emergency arises during pregnancy or birth, a doula doesn't have the medical training to help. A doula provides emotional support, usually working as part of a team along with a doctor or midwife. In contrast, a midwife has medical training and can deliver a baby.

  • Why are doulas important?

    Doulas are vital because they can offer emotional support during a very challenging time in person's life. Birth doulas, postpartum doulas, and death doulas all act as supportive, objective third-parties who can offer comfort to individuals going through a challenge. This is important because family members and friends are often too busy processing their own emotions to provide proper support.

  • What do doulas do before, during and after labor? 

    • Before: A doula can help mothers prepare for an upcoming birth. They can answer any questions the mother may have, be available for emotional support, and offer tips on having a relaxed mindset toward birth. This is important because other medical professionals, such as doctors, don't have time to indulge a patient's every worry and concern.
    • During: A birth doula can act like a birthing coach. The doula will support the mother during the birth, remind her of any training, such as breathing tips, and bring soothing materials, such as music or tokens. A good birth doula will never get in the way of a midwife or doctor's work during labor.
    • After: A postpartum doula will be available to the mother after the labor. When a mom brings her baby home, she may struggle with feeding or understanding the baby's needs, or have concerns about the baby's health. A doula is available to support the mother emotionally through this new, challenging time.
  • What is it like to be a doula?

    Being a doula can be a very rewarding experience. You support people during a challenging time in their life. A doulas should be calm and have a soothing presence. Additionally, a good doula knows how to act under pressure and understands their limitations. Doulas are not medical professionals, so they should defer to a doctor or midwife when necessary.

  • Are doulas licensed?

    Doulas need to complete a training program but don't have to have a certificate to practice legally. A doula's work is primarily hands-on, so practice is what makes a good doula. That's why many training programs ask that doulas attend several births after completing their training.

  • Are doula-assisted home births safe?

    A doula-assisted home birth is only safe if a medical professional, such as a doctor or a midwife, is present. As a doula doesn’t have medical training, they can't step in and help if a medical emergency arises.

  • What do you need for a homebirth?

    Basic supplies to have on hand for a home birth include:

    • Water bottle
    • Pillows
    • Bowl for vomiting
    • Ice chips
    • Ice pack
    • Extra-large overnight pads
    • Ibuprofen
    • Dramamine
    • Washcloths
    • Fluid replacement drinks
    • Heating pad or hot water bottle

  • How do you get a birth certificate if you give birth at home?

    The physician or the midwife who attended the home birth is responsible for registering the delivery with the local Health Department. You can ask your midwife or physician when you can expect to get a copy of the birth certificate.

  • Who is eligible for a home birth?

    Although the medical community’s stance is that births at a hospital are the safest, any mother has the right to decide to give birth at home. However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Obstetric Practice considers multiple gestations, a prior C-section delivery, or fetal malpresentation reasons to avoid at-home labor.

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