If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably heard about having a doula.
This article was written to help mums understand what they do, where to find one, what different services they offer and ask questions to find a dynamic one for you!
The popularity of doulas has been rising in recent years, especially from first-time mums, or mums who have recently relocated to a different city and lacking support.
It is these two scenarios that I can see they are invaluable to help you have the best possible birth experience and post-natal doulas provide valuable support after your birth too. Note that I didn’t know about them when I delivered my babies 🙁
It can be a shock if you have a difficult delivery and don’t have someone on hand who can help you navigate your choices – a doula can support you because they have seen many deliveries and want the best for you.
Doulas are passionate about birth being a more nurturing, empowering and life-changing experience… for the better.
What is a Doula?
A Doula is a trained birth support person who provides all of the emotional support to women during their pregnancy, that they require during labour and birth and post-natal. A Doula cannot provide maternity care.
Maternity care is the role of medical professionals, such as obstetricians, doctors, midwives and nurses etc.
Did you know? According to obstetrician Dr Judith Gardiner, as long as your doula respects the limitations of their role, there shouldn’t be any risks at all, even during a complicated birth.
‘A doula’s support may actually be more important during a high-risk pregnancy and delivery’
What services can they offer:
· Antenatal support
· Physical support
· Emotional support
· Medical liaison
· Postnatal support
A recent Choice article reviewed them in detail.
How much does a doula cost?
Depending on experience and level of service provided, costs usually range from $800 to $2000, with student doulas available for much lower rates. The cost usually includes one or more visits during pregnancy and after birth as well as attendance at birth.
Is a doula covered by private health insurance?
No, doulas are not covered by Medicare or private health insurance.
How to find a dynamic doula
The Australian Doula College offers a personalised matching service, while SheBirths and Doula Network Australia provide doula directories. You can also ask your doctor or midwife if they have any recommendations.
Once you have a doula in mind, set up an interview to find out:
- how many births they’ve attended
- what skills they have (e.g. massage, acupressure)
- what services they offer
- obtain testimonials from past clients
- what qualifications they have (the highest Doula qualification is a Certificate IV in Doula Support Services)
- how well you get along with them.
Make sure you pick one that will get along with you and if you need support after the birth, check whether they provide postnatal services.
Anyone can legally call themselves a doula because the profession isn’t regulated yet, so finding a doula through a reputable organisation is your safest bet.
If you want to learn to be a doula:
Where You Can Train to Become a Doula In Australia
- W.A. – Australian Doulas
- VIC – Rhea Dempsey’s Birthing Wisdom
- VIC – Dial-a-Doula
- NSW – Birth Right
- NSW – Australian Doula College (trains Aus wide)
- A.C.T. – The Birth Yurt
- Online – Childbirth International
Three books which are great to read about the work of a doula are:
- The Doula Book by By Dr. Klaus, Dr. Kennell & Marshall which has just had a 2012 reprint. Klaus and Kennell are founding members of DONA (Doulas of North America, est. 1992) and are seen as foremost experts on doulas in the world.
- Doulas: Why Every Pregnant Woman Deserves One by Susan Ross (AUS)
- The Doula Advantage by Rachel Gurevich