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What is a doula?

Benefits and cost of a doula

Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team
pregnant woman getting ultrasound

Whether this is your first pregnancy or fifth, you may be in the process of planning what you want your delivery day to look like. That includes planning who will be in the room with you. One option you have is a doula.

A doula is a professionally trained birth coach who provides “continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible,” according to DONA International, a professional organization for doulas.

Doulas must receive intensive training and education to be certified. A birth doula must attend childbirth education, breastfeeding and birth doula classes. Additionally, they are required to attend several live births. A postpartum doula studies the principles of home visitation and how to care for infants and mothers. Doulas have become increasingly common in the delivery and postpartum process.

Benefits of a doula

If you’re looking to have a natural delivery, are committed to a specific birthing plan in or outside of a hospital or would like to have as much emotional support as possible throughout the course of your pregnancy journey, then a doula might be the right choice for you.

Dedicated to you

Once you have hired a doula, they are truly dedicated to you. They provide emotional, physical and informational support. Doulas remain by your side, provide their undivided attention during labor and work to ensure your birth goes the way you want.

During the postpartum stage, they will be with you to provide knowledge and information about life with your newborn to help ensure you feel comfortable and confident. A doula’s main role is to be there solely for you during pregnancy, the birthing process and postpartum.

Can help lower birth risks

Many studies suggest that the care of a doula can result in lower healthcare costs, a reduced chance of C-sections (Cesarean sections) and decreased maternal anxiety and depression. With the support of doulas, many women are also able to forego epidurals and have less stressful births.

Provide support for partners

During labor and in postpartum, doulas are not only there for mom. They can also be there to provide emotional support to your partner. This can include affirmation and assurance or teaching a partner the right way to support the mother during pregnancy, labor and postpartum.

Source of knowledge

Labor and delivery can be stressful or anxiety provoking, especially if you haven’t experienced it before. A doula’s presence is often comforting — they are an invaluable resource and wealth of knowledge. Having someone by your side to answer any questions at any hour can be a much-needed relief. In some situations, your doctor or nurses may be busy or unavailable to answer questions you have, which is where a doula can step in.

Doulas have been specifically trained in labor, delivery and postpartum care. Coupled with their knowledge of your desired birth plan, this can result in a less stressful delivery experience. A doula’s presence during your delivery provides the added support you may be looking for.

How much does a doula cost?

The cost of a doula can vary by region and the services you are hiring for. If you are working with a doula for labor and delivery, the price for services can range from $800 to $2,500. A postpartum doula typically costs between $20 and $50 an hour, which is also dependent on location, experience and whether the services are provided during the day or night.

Some insurance plans may cover some or all doula costs. Be sure to call your insurance provider to see if they offer cost coverage for doula services.

Is a doula worth it?

A doula is an excellent resource for women and their partners who are looking for additional support during the birthing process and/or postpartum. In addition to physical and emotional support, a doula can guide you through the delivery process with their extensive knowledge and experience. When determining if a doula is right for you, consider what level of support you’d like. When choosing one, find someone you trust and respect who can provide comfort and has views on childbirth that mesh well with yours.

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Profile picture of Jessica Render
by Jessica Render ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs research team, Jessica Render is dedicated to providing well-researched, valuable content designed to help consumers make informed purchase decisions they can feel confident making. She holds a degree in journalism from Oral Roberts University.