Birth is no small feat! It’s a life-changing experience filled with ups and downs, big and small challenges, good and bad emotions, stress, and of course, discomfort. While having a partner, family member, or friend to support you through this process is incredibly valuable, sometimes you need a different kind of support to offer professional care and a fresh perspective. A doula is a trained birth coach who understands what you are going through and can give you tailor fit techniques to support your desired birth experience. But a doula can do so much more! Keep reading to answer all of your questions and find out what to keep in mind if you’re considering hiring a doula.

What Is a Doula?

Simply put, a doula is a birth coach. They are a support system to educate and assist you in techniques to make your birth easier. For example, your doula may be able to help you with breathwork, movement, positioning, and even relaxation or stress relief. Keep in mind that a doula is not a replacement for medical staff. They have no medical training and don’t actually need to be certified, although you can certainly find one that is! Instead, they provide additional information as well as physical and emotional support without judging your needs or desires. 

What Services Do Doulas Offer?

Every expecting mother has different needs! Luckily, there are different types of doulas that are available to assist you based on your specific wishes and preferences. Doulas can often specialize in certain aspects of pregnancy such as fertility, birth, or postpartum care. However, many are full-spectrum, meaning they offer all of these services. A doula specializing in fertility focuses on conception while a birth coach supports you before and during your labor to help you achieve your desired birth according to plan. For mothers looking for assistance after birth, a postpartum doula can help with your healing or assist you in developing skills to care for your baby such as bathing, sleeping, breastfeeding, and diapering.

What Can’t They Do?

While there are plenty of benefits of having a doula, there are also limitations to what they can do to help you. They are not your medical team. You will still need a midwife or OBGYN for any medical care, prescriptions, and delivery. If you’re looking for someone with more extensive training, consider a midwife instead. Midwives are trained but did not attend medical school. You can find a certified midwife, trained to assist in low-risk pregnancies. However, midwives are not equipped to offer full-scope medical care like a medical doctor, or OBGYN. For the best possible care, and especially for higher risk pregnancies, we recommend always including an OBGYN in your birthing and medical care team.  

Are Doulas Effective?

What works for one mom could very well be different than what works for another. However, one thing that is true across the board is that support during labor is very valuable. It can even reduce the length of labor and decrease the rate of medical interventions. Hiring a doula can be an excellent way to get this extra coaching and help reduce the anxiety of moms and even their partners. A doula can also advocate for mothers’ wishes during birth and improve bonding with mother and child after the birth. For doulas that are lactation consultants, they can also improve success with breastfeeding. 

Who Should Hire a Doula?

Well, doulas are for any expecting mother looking for additional support! Many mothers who don’t have a partner or their partner cannot be present during their labor could especially benefit from hiring a doula. Doulas are also an excellent choice for mothers who have a specific birth plan or other specific wishes in mind. A doula can advocate for you with your medical team to help you get your preferences met. Keep in mind that doulas are not just for natural or unmedicated births. A mother with any birth plan might benefit from using a doula, however, they are often a great choice for someone choosing a natural birth because of the additional physical and mental challenges it can pose. 

Can They Do Anything Else?

Doulas are there to help you achieve your ideal birth whenever possible. Long before you go into labor, they can sit down with you to discuss options and come up with a birth plan that suits your wishes. You can decide if you want a natural birth, any pain medications, and go over techniques for labor. Your doula will help you manage pain and stress through breathing techniques, different positions, and other means of support. Keep in mind that guest lists at your hospital could be limited so a doula could either take up a spot or, alternatively, stand in if one of your guests needs a break. 

How Do I Choose a Doula?

Perhaps the most important factor when hiring a doula is to find the perfect one for you! Of course, this person will likely be in attendance for some of the most special and intimate moments of your life. So it is very important to find someone who not only is certified and fits your needs, but also has a personality that you can connect with. Be sure to interview multiple doulas to find the one that fits best to your wishes and personal preferences. Remember, this person is going to be helping you through very emotional, and at times, challenging experiences! So don’t rush into it. Interview at least a few different candidates so you can compare and feel confident about your decision. 

How Do I Hire a Doula?

Finding a doula that is perfect for you is all about planning ahead and using the right resources. If you are wondering whether to hire a doula then it is already a good time to start asking your friends and family to see if they hired a doula and gauge what kind of experience they had. If they know of a good one, you might be able to secure the perfect fit through referral! Otherwise, take a look at a few online directories from organizations that offer doula certifications to ensure that you are getting a highly qualified doula. Be sure to start your search early so you can hire at around 20 weeks. While this may seem early, the best doulas are likely to be snapped up if you wait too long!

How Much Does a Doula Cost?

Many expecting mothers may be interested in getting that additional support but are concerned that they won’t be able to afford it. Luckily, doulas range in price and can be very affordable, sometimes even free! Typically though, price varies based on location, type of services, and number of visits. Doulas can charge by the hour or a flat rate. You are likely to pay upwards of $500 and as much as $3,000 for doula. While this range might seem daunting, some health insurance providers cover doula care, so you may be able to get part of the cost covered. Doulas are also covered by medicaid in some states. So be sure to check with your health insurance provider before you hire a doula.

At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, our mission is to support parents in providing their children with the best care possible. If you are interested in hiring a doula and would like more information, our knowledgeable Coastal Kids Pediatricians would be happy to share more about the benefits of having a doula or birth coach and walk you through any questions you may have. To make an appointment, visit us at Until then, we wish you all the best in achieving your perfect pregnancy!