If I have a midwife, why would I want a doula?
To put it simply: I don’t do what a midwife does, and she doesn’t do what I do. Midwives are medical professionals with the rights and responsibilities of prescription, examination, and treatment. Birth, however, is so much bigger than just a medical event, it’s so much bigger than one professional can support! It marks not merely a major life transition, but a personal transformation, and while midwives provide as much well-rounded support as they can, their focus really needs to be on the medical side. Doulas fill out that care, providing support for the emotional and spiritual aspects of birth and the needs for information and preparation that a medical professional just can’t meet.
Midwives are absolutely marvelous, but no one can be everything. It’s statistically demonstrated that even where midwives are the primary HCP, doulas improve outcomes.
I have a partner, so why do I need a doula?
Your partner is not a professional, nor should they be! Your partner can support you in ways that only the two of you can understand, and my skills and expertise can supplement and support that relationship.
The reality is that partners are going through this transition just as you are, they are neck-deep in it. I am here just as much to support them as I am you! The name of my practice is Becoming Parents: it’s about you both. The birthing partner will rightfully get the final word on what birth experience is desired, but the support that I provide is for the entire family.
What should I look for when shopping for a doula?
A good fit! Fit is everything, it’s much more important to have a doula that you’re at ease with and whose company you enjoy than anything else. Being around someone that you’re less than comfortable with is a kind of stress, and birth is a hormonally regulated process: stress hormones can make labor last much longer or even stall altogether. Of course you want someone who’s reliable and knowledgeable, but most importantly, your doula should be a source of peace and comfort. So, like I tell my daughter, trust your tummy!
What are your rates?
My rate for birth doula services is $1,000, paid in two installments of $500. One is due at the time of hire, the other is due at the start of the on-call period. I’m not currently offering a sliding scale, although I plan to once I’ve completed my certifications and my business is a little more established. What I can offer instead is an alternative payment plans if $500 at a shot is too much exercise for the wallet.
My postpartum support services are billed hourly at the rate of $28/hour, rounded to the next quarter-hour (skip ahead to “My hourly rate” for further explanation). An $840 retainer fee is due at the time of hire, unless we work out another payment plan, and it serves as both a retainer fee and a 30-hour advance on the total service fee. In other words, once we get to the postpartum period, you’ll have already paid for 30 hours of support. That way no one has to worry about money for awhile while you settle into early parenthood. After those first 30 hours, the fee is due at the time of service.
The combo birth and postpartum support package totals $1,640. The first $1,140 is the equivalent of the retainer fees for both birth and postpartum support packages, with a $200 discount. It’s due at the time of hire, unless we come up with an alternative payment plan, and is nonrefundable except under certain circumstances outlined in the contract. The remaining $500 is the rest of the birth support fee, and is due by the start of the on-call period.
My hourly rate for any prenatal or postpartum visits or lactation support is $28/hour, and I round to the next quarter-hour. In other words, the cost of a lactation counseling session that lasts an hour and 23 minutes would be $42, the same as a session lasting an hour and a half. There’s a 3-hour minimum for postpartum visits, and a 1-hour minimum for prenatal visits and lactation support. This means that if you ask me to come for a postpartum visit and only need me for two hours, the cost is still $84. Payment is due at the time of service unless we discuss otherwise.
How do additional appointments work?
What’s the hiring process?
I always encourage families to interview multiple doulas. You may not recognize things that aren’t going to jive with you until you can compare with another doula, and any doula who’s worth her salt is going to care more about fit than she will about landing a client. So do some shopping! And I’ll be all the more honored if you still decide to schedule a consultation.
What, exactly, does it mean when you “go on-call”?
Going on-call means that I’m committed to being available when you go into labor, any time of day or night. If you think you may be in labor, give me a call! Anything else that comes up should be treated the way it was before the on-call period: reach out to me with anything emergent whenever you need to, but please limit non-emergent communications to regular work-week hours (M-F 8:00 am-5:00 pm). I try to be as consistent as I can for my daughter, even with all the running-off to births that I do, so keeping as regular a workweek as possible is important to me.
Is a Certified Lactation Counselor the same thing as a Certified Lactation Consultant?
What can you tell me about your doula credentials?
When I was shopping for certifying organizations, I was looking for rigorous requirements and training workshops that would give me tools to handle as many situations as possible, but I also wanted respected organizations that will work for me as one of their members, not just take my membership fees.
What’s the difference between a postpartum doula, a nanny, and an NCS/ICS?
In a nutshell, nannies and Newborn or Infant Care Specialists (NCSs or ICSs) do the work for you, and doulas give you what you need to do it yourself. A nanny is successful if you want to keep her on, but a doula is successful if you don’t need her anymore.
There’s a lot of variation in how long a postpartum doula will work with a family, but in general it’s between 6 weeks (the medically designated postpartum recovery period) and 6 months. I take it right down the middle and offer my services for 3 months, unless a situation arises that requires more support. A nanny can stay on for years, and an NCS or ICS can stay or for months or even a year or more. A doula’s top priority is the mother, birthing parent, or the baby’s primary caregiver. The job of a doula is to support, care for, and mentor parents so that they can care for their baby. The job of a nanny, NCS, or ICS is to care for the baby directly. A doula may care for the baby here and there, but this is not their primary job and they only do it in order to give the parents a break. When a doula provides overnight support, for example, they typically do not take care of the baby so the parents can sleep through the night, but instead help to make nighttime feedings easier, less stressful, less disruptive so that sleep returns easily. The doula’s goal is for parents to be confident in their self-sufficiency.
Parents who want a nanny, NCS, or ICS are likely to have very demanding lives and are looking for someone to take care of the baby for them. Parents who want a doula are DIYers, people who plan to care for their children themselves and want to get off on the right foot.