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What is a Doula?

Written by Jana Angeles  

Wouldn’t life be easier if we had someone to hold our hand and provide encouragement every step of the way? It’s amazing how much we have progressed as a society and how we’re becoming more open-minded when it comes to providing human services for people that need them. Take for example a doula (pronounced doo-la) is a Greek term that means a caregiver or a woman servant.  

Basically, a doula is someone that will be with you every step of the way before, during and after childbirth. Pregnancy is a bit of a whirlwind and sometimes we just need a “go-to” person by our side; to be the cheerleader encouraging us to remain positive and that’s what a doula does. 

How can a doula help me? 

Besides giving you and your partner support during your pregnancy journey, a doula can do plenty of things to make you feel less stressed. They are professionally trained and have skills that can help you feel relaxed.  

Usually the services that a doula is trained in are: 

  • Birth planning (they create a written birth plan/birth preferences document) 
  • Birth education and preparation 
  • Optimal fetal positioning 
  • De-briefing previous births  
  • Massage and other comfort measures 
  • Helping with positioning and changes to help ease the pain for the client, resulting in a smoother labour 
  • During Pregnancy & Labour: providing emotional comfort during these two phases that may cause stress for the client. 
  • Providing aromatherapy, music, candles, etc to keep you relaxed and comfortable 
  • Negotiating the client’s preferences in terms of service 
  • Photography and/or video of the birth as well as treasured moments with the family 

Do I need one?  

Having a doula is completely optional but it’s becoming a demanding service for people who are pregnant. Although we get that “glow” during pregnancy and feel excited about the little human we’re about to meet, pregnancy is also tied with a lot of stress, hormonal change and unexpected outcomes. A doula is a person you can go to when you are feeling anxious, scared or upset while you’re pregnant. They are caring and will show support every step of the way.

Though some of their qualifications are similar to a midwife, a doula does all the things a midwife lacks the time for. You can rely on them to talk you through the pros and cons of an important decision. They are also calm and very focused – even if you go off the rails for a bit! Having this compassion and non-judgemental nature is a doula’s job; they are here to make your pregnancy journey just a tad easier. Keep in mind a doula is trained in providing birth support for mothers. If you have any medical concerns, speak with a medical professional. 

How much do they charge? 

The charge of a doula is purely dependent on experience, country and state the doula is located. Generally speaking, they provide packages to suit your needs.  

In Australia, a doula package normally consists of pre and postnatal visits (around 1.5 to 2 hours in each session) and the duration of the birth – the cost can be from $800 to $1500. It’s important to be aware of the different costs as some charge $2000 in their packages. If you can’t pay the fee in full, there are payment plans available as well. If you genuinely are in need of a doula but can’t afford the normal rate, some doulas will reduce their rate to alleviate some financial stress from families.  

How do I know I’ve chosen the right doula?  

  • Your gut says it all! If you feel like your doula is perfect and your heart is telling you to hire them, then go ahead. If you instantly click with one another, this is a great indication that they will be right for the job. 
  • Be aware that some doulas are specialised in all different kinds of births and situations. Make sure they match your needs before you begin working with them. 
  • Make sure your partner likes them too. You’re sharing a special moment with your doula so it’s best to have your partner there when you meet your potential doulas. Being on the same page with a doula will make it far easier for the both of you! It’s important that a doula instantly connects with your partner too. 

You could say a doula is a special type of human – a human that some mothers need in their life. If you feel like you’ll be prone to stress during pregnancy or encounter some tough decisions altogether, consider getting a doula. Don’t let other people’s opinion of bringing in a doula influence you. They will provide you with the care and support you never knew you needed!

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