A doula is a birth support person who has been trained in providing continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and just after birth. They also provide emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
I started looking for a doula after my cousin shared her birth story and how much it meant to her to have her mom in the room. She didn’t think she wanted her mom there, but during labor she realized her mom could offer a kind of support/a kind of “I’ve been there” camaraderie that her husband (as a first time dad) couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, she sang her husband’s praises, but she felt more comfortable with the entire experience because of that strong, feminine presence.
Travis and I decided early on that we would prefer to not have either of our moms at the delivery.
Because they are crazy. Because we envisioned the beginning of our family as a private moment. Somehow hiring a complete stranger (the doula) didn’t seem as much of an infringement on that privacy as a family member.
We met with Sherry Asp of Reno Midwifery. Sherry is an experienced doula and midwife. I’ll write more about the outcome of that meeting later, but I wanted to provide some resources if anyone else is looking for a doula.
In the Reno area I found the following doulas:
DONA International – the oldest, largest and most well-respected Doula Association in the world
Doulas can cost anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars. In the Reno area, you’re looking at a range of $600-1000. This includes 2 pre-natal visits and continuous labor support. The doulas are on call beginning two weeks before your due date and stay on call until 2 weeks after your due date. They also visit you in your home once you leave the hospital to help with breastfeeding and provide emotional support.
As labor progresses, a doula will meet you in your home and stay as you move closer to delivery. If they’ve had Monitrice training, the doula can also provide services like checking how dilated a woman is so the transition to the hospital isn’t made too soon.
One of my favorite parts of meeting with Sherry Asp was quizzing her on what a typical hospital birth is like in our area and finding out more about her midwifery practice. She also provided insight into my doctor and how my doctor’s call groups react to a woman seeking a natural birth.
If you’re looking for a doula I’d recommend asking your doctor how he/she feels about them. Some doctors are more pro-doula than others and their attitude will greatly affect how things go on your baby’s birthday. Also, I should mention that doulas are available for any type of birth. Their whole purpose is to provide labor coaching and emotional support – no matter which way you choose to have your baby!