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Monday, December 9, 2013
A doula is a caring woman who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to a mother during the third trimester of pregnancy, and/or the first few weeks or months after the baby's birth.
Ideally the first contact between the mother-to-be, her partner, and the doula comes in the third trimester of pregnancy, 1 ½ to 3 months before labor is expected to begin. This meeting may be followed by one or more additional meetings.
If there is a problem after the initial meeting, tell the doula that you are not completely comfortable with her style or approach. Then try to find a doula with whom you are more compatible. Most doulas understand that this may occur and they may be able to provide you with the names of other doulas.
It is critical that the doula chosen is qualified with proper education and certification, and that you feel comfortable with her.
There are two basic types of Doula services:
Independent Doulas - Independent Doulas are employed directly by the expectant parents. They usually have telephone contact and one or more prenatal meetings with the clients to establish a relationship.
When labor begins the Doula arrives and stays with the woman until after the birth. Doulas often charge a flat fee, but many base their fees on a sliding scale to account for the income of the parent(s).
Hospital/Agency Doula Programs - Other Doula programs are associated with or administered by a hospital or community service agency. The Doulas may be volunteers or paid employees of the hospital or agency. Payment to the Doula may come from the institution, the client, or it may be shared by the two.
Some insurance companies reimburse Doula support, however most do not. Grant funding is also available. Some Medicaid-funded health agencies have contracts with Doula organizations to support women in poverty.
Last Reviewed: Sep 12, 2007
John H Kennell, MD
Formerly, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University