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Kayla the doula, a practicing birth worker who also happens to be my bff, answers my curious questions.
Can you give a short history of doula’s, how were you introduced and what training have you had?
Doula’s are birth partners, usually women, who are present with women during the prenatal, labor, and post-partum phases of childbirth. So, essentially doulas have been around forever. The title doula, though, has had somewhat of a renaissance in recent years. I first heard of doulas from a co-worker who had a doula for her birth. I attended a training at the International Center for Traditional Childbirth. Erykah Badu is their Spokesperson!
Why do you want to be a doula and how has life prepared you for this role?
I want to be a doula because I appreciate the learning that comes with it. As a result, I am able to share a lot of practical knowledge. I also love babies. Furthermore, as a doula, I can work autonomously and take the skill anywhere I want be in the world. I received a BS in Sociology and in my training, I have learned that women have very different birth experiences related to their social and economic positions in society. My goal is to help families advocate for themselves to level the playing field.
How would a family know if a particular doula is a good for them?
A family should have an initial meeting with a potential doula and feel out the vibe. And vice versa for doulas. Childbirth is very intimate and involved. It can also be very spiritual and, surprisingly, political. I would advise families to choose a doula that has a lot of knowledge around their childbirth goals. For example, someone that can give or find information on alternatives to breastfeeding if a mother is struggling or has to return to work.
What types of support/services do you offer and why are they necessary?
I offer prenatal, labor, and postpartum support. In prenatal support, I get to know the family and learn about their vision and goals for the birth. I am available for in-person meeting and remote communication to help them find the answers to their questions and options for their choices. In labor support, I am present with the family from the beginning of active labor until the baby latches on for the first time. During this time, I employ different strategies to making sure mom is as comfortable as she can be. It can massage, keeping the room clean, or checking in on her needs. In postpartum support I offer service in light housekeeping, preparing meals, and finding answers to questions and resources like where to find a breast pump or options in family planning, for example. All families are different and I am flexible to meet their unique needs.
How does a family benefit from a doula?
One major benefit of a doula is the time that the service frees up for the family to prepare for a major life event. Another benefit is an interested listener in every step of your childbirth experience. Doulas are family advocates that are dedicated to making sure families are heard. The presence of a doula has shown to reduce the need for a C-section, which is a costly and serious surgery. When doulas are around there are fewer medical interventions, shorter labor hours, and higher APGAR scores, which is an assessment to see how well the baby is doing postpartum.
How would a family find you or other doula’s information if interested?
I think referrals are a tried and true method. Also, others doulas and I are listed are different directories. An online search for “your location doulas” will show many options.
What’s your fee and what does it include?
My fee is $500 a family for prenatal, labor, and postpartum services. My fee is lower than “market rate” because I am still a student. Students are a good option for families that are budget conscious. However, many families will testify that the service is priceless. I tend to work with families for 6 months.
Is this service covered by health insurance?
Yes, some private insurance companies will reimburse families for a portion or the whole the cost of a doula. Doula’s have been shown to save hospitals $1500 or more in costs. Medicaid will cover doula care in only 2 states; Oregon and Minnesota. So, there is more work to be done on the political front in doula care.
What advice do you have for others interested in becoming a doula?
My advice for aspiring doulas is to first, read and research. Then, maybe ask a friend or family member if you can attend their birth and just be there to support them. I would also encourage those to take a training even if they are on the fence. The trainings are super fun and informative and you will meet other likeminded individuals. There are usually scholarships available as well.