Why Hire a Doula?
Is Doula Support Right For my Birth?
The word “doula” has Greek roots, and actually traditionally means “female slave.” The term was introduced in the west by Dana Rafael, in her book “The Tender Gift: Breastfeeding” to refer to a caring knowledgeable woman who comes into the home and “mothers the new mother”. Marshall Klaus and John Kennel, doctors and researchers on perinatal health and outcomes, expanded upon Rafael’s intended re-definition to describe birth and postpartum support people. While folks in Greece had strongly negative feelings about the re-use of this word, it has become ubiquitous in the west to describe the job I do full-time today. I tend to go back in fourth between using “doula” and “birth support” on my website – some folks know the meaning of one term, others are more familiar with the other.
Having the personal support of someone trained in childbirth has been shown to reduce the risk of unwanted medical interventions during labor and delivery. With doulas, fewer labors are augmented with Pitocin, and the risk of Cesarean sections decrease, and shorter labors are more common. Studies find that the folks who have
doulas are more likely to feel supported, confident and satisfied with their birth experiences. Working in and around Boston since 2010, I have attended births at Mount Auburn Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Hospital, Cambridge Hospital, Cambridge Birth Center, Newton Wellesley Hospital, Boston Medical Center, South Shore Hospital, Winchester Hospital, Beverly Hospital and Beverly Birth Center, Melrose Wakefield Hospital, Norwood Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital and Sturdy Memorial Hospital. While 99% of folks in the United States give birth in hospitals, I am also very blessed to support home birthing clients, as well.
With continuous labor support, I’ll be there for you when hospital staff shifts change, or when a partner needs to take a break. To read more about my philosophies or advice for expecting parents, check out this interview I did for my client’s blog.
My birth support package includes:
- 1 free initial consultation, to see if we are a good fit. This currently happens over the phone, or FaceTime/Zoom.
- 2-3 prenatal visits. Intentional time together where we get to know one another, and learn about your preferences and options.
- Help creating a written birth care plan (or “birth preferences”), if desired.
- Availability for continuous phone or email support.
- Staying on call 24/7 for your birth, beginning at 37 weeks. If you happen to give birth before then, I’m almost certainly still available, this guideline just helps me “schedule” my on-call work. For clients who have a history of premature birth, or who otherwise expect a baby early, we can adjust the call window to fit your individual needs.
- A back up doula, in the case of overlapping labors or other emergency.
- Continuous support throughout labor. Sometimes, I connect with you or your partner by phone in early labor, and meet in your home when contractions become regular and you desire additional support. Other births, I meet up with clients who are already at the hospital. Either way, my plan is to provide continuous support through the first few hours after your baby’s birth. This support can include massage, relaxation and positioning techniques, affirmation and emotional support, help with communicating wishes to hospital staff, making sure you and your partner are hydrated and fed.
- 1 formal postpartum check-in (this may become 2 visits if you decide to also do placenta encapsulation).
- Herbal support for pregnancy and postpartum (nourishing teas, postpartum herbal baths, salves for dry skin). These are most often offered at $20 a piece. Ask about any customized blends you’re curious about!
Check out my DoulaMatch profile for updated availability, but do know that calendar isn’t always a perfect representation of my schedule. From autumn 2022 on, I will be limiting my “solo” / primary doula clients, and working in partnership with many local doulas to provide continuous and backup support for families.
In 2024, my “full” birth doula fee is $2,100. This can be divided over three installments with a $700 deposit. One deposit is to book your due date in my calendar, and two deposits are due when we plan prenatal visits. After summer 2024, I will be working with clients collectively with a small team of doulas.
Clients who can pay my full basic fee “subsidize” the work I do for free or low-cost. I am committed to having sliding-scale flexibility for low-income families in need of birth support. You can always reach out. Please contact me at email@example.com for more information. Booking consultations and appointments can be done through my HerbalDoula Calendly page. Also, this is still in the works but MassHealth may start covering doula services in early 2024 and beyond!