Doulas do not replace nurses or other medical staff or anyone else that would like to play an active roll in your delivery. Doulas do not perform clinical or medical tasks such as taking your vital signs, monitoring fetal heart rate, doing examinations or providing clinical care. They are there to comfort and support you and to enhance communication between you and medical professionals and the birth team. A doula does not make decisions for you about your birth or but they do provide informational and emotional support, while respecting a your decisions. A doula is many times a great buffer between you and your mother or sister whom have their own ideas of how your birth should go. A doula can also help you release any emotions you may have about have the baby’s father not being involved.
The presence of a doula at your birth can have many benefits. Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth tend to result in shorter labors with fewer complications, reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience, reduces the need for pitocin (labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction, reduces pain medication and epidurals, as well as cesareans. This is of utmost importance when you will need to feel your best after birth. When a doula is present during and after childbirth, women report greater satisfaction with their birth experience, have more positive thoughts of their babies and bodies, have fewer cesareans and requests for medical intervention, and less postpartum depression. Many doulas will work with you in the postpartum period to help you adjust to your new life with baby.
Having a doula benefits babies as well. Studies have shown that babies born with doulas tend to have shorter hospital stays with fewer admissions to special nurseries, breastfeed more easily, and have more affectionate mothers that bond immediately. Many doulas will offer classes on breastfeeding, newborn care, and even baby signing!
Doulas practice in many ways such as privately hired directly by clients, as hospital employees, and as volunteers in community or hospital programs. A quick web search for your area will likely bring up some websites or also try searching through certifying agencies. Doula fees can range from $500 to over $1000 but may be the best investment for your baby’s future. Many doulas will wave a fee for a single mother in a hardship situation, so it is always good to ask!
The first step is to find a local doula and meet with her to see if she is the right fit for your birth wishes. Interview several doulas until you click and can trust her with one of the most intimate times of your life. Are sure to sign a contract and that you understand her full services. Spend time together learning and mingling and preparing for baby before your birth.
If you are becoming a single mother by choice, or not, you do not need to be alone during the birth of your baby. Having a support team is important both before, during, and after your baby is born. The birth of your baby can be the most joyous time of your life and a doula can help make the experience amazing.