With about six weeks to go before you finally get to meet your baby, you’re probably anticipating labour and delivery with a lot of nervous energy. Many parents take comfort in making a birth plan and choosing who they would like to be present for the birth; some parents hire a doula to help. Doula is not a regulated profession in Canada, so it’s important to know the right questions to ask and qualifications to look for in order to make the right choice for you and your family.
A doula is an emotional support person employed by an expecting individual or couple during their pregnancy, labour and/or postpartum care. While a doula does not provide any clinical support, they will provide emotional support and encouragement to an expectant mother and her family.
For some women, there is a lot of comfort in having an experienced and familiar face in the delivery room. With large practices and rotating on-call schedules, there is no guarantee that your doctor will be the one to deliver your baby; with a doula, labouring mothers can count on having particular, personalized support. Other families may choose a doula to ease the pressure on their partner to provide support during labour and to allow them to be able to enjoy the birth.
Midwifery is a regulated profession in Canada; midwives have specific qualifications and licenses to practice. A midwife provides clinical care to a pregnant woman during pregnancy, birth, and the postpartum period; a doula provides emotional care. While a midwife will provide encouragement and familiarity during labour, generally, her focus will be on the baby and making sure it’s born safely. A doula is there to focus on the mother, and will often provide services like massage and help the mother into different birth positions. Doulas can be great patient advocates in the hectic atmosphere of a birth, helping the labouring mother to articulate decisions and stay focused.
While the services of a doula are not covered by provincial health insurance, some health care benefits will at least partially cover doula services. The cost of a doula varies widely, with the average cost in Canada ranging from $400 to $1,500. Some of the factors that can influence the cost include the doula’s qualifications, their experience, and the length of time you employ them. Many doulas offer free services while they’re in training, as they may be required to attend births to complete their course.
● Do you have any qualifications?
● When and where did you complete your training?
● What is your experience as a doula?
● What does your service include?
● Do you have any training in postpartum support?
● What is your availability? Do you have a partner in case you’re unavailable when I go into labour?
● How many clients do you support each month?
● What are your birth philosophies?
● What is your fee structure?
● How do I stay in contact with you?
● When do you join us in labour?
● Can you provide references?
While hiring a doula may be the right decision for your family, it is one that requires a little research. Taking the time to find the right fit, and then checking qualifications and references, will make for a much better birth experience.
Every pregnancy and baby is unique. Your baby’s measurements and milestones may vary from the information provided. Always refer to the advice of your healthcare professional.