What is a doula?
A doula is traditionally someone who provides non-clinical support to a family during pregnancy, birth and postnatally. This support will look different for every family, depending on their needs. Most doulas are flexible in their approach and will spend time to get to know you as a family to understand your priorities, who you are, what you want from this experience and how you feel you would like to be supported. In Developing Doulas, we are taught that being a doula is to provide emotional, practical and knowledgeable support, but how much of those elements are needed by individual families differs greatly. It is our job to work with you to figure out when, how and why different elements may be required.
Doulas are known for being there during labour and birth (and that is certainly what people ask me about the most). But this isn’t the only string to a doulas bow. Much of our work happens in the lead up to birth. Encouraging you to ask questions, seek information, signpost to resources and think about what you want from your experience without blindly following ‘the norm’. Unfortunately, even midwives with the best intentions in the world are stretched past the point of being able to provide all of this information in midwife appointments. Having someone else to explore ideas and questions with can make you feel empowered to take control of your experience yourself and take all of this into labour with you. Teaching how to get evidence-based information to be able to make decisions is the aim of all of my conversations with new families.
Postnatally, a doula can be invited into your home to provide the practical support traditionally given by relatives. With communities being more individualized and families being more widespread than they have been previously, families are often either left in the trenches of new parenthood without practical support or faced with well intentioned people who aren’t really sure how best to support. This can be tense for some families, feeling the need to host relatives whilst reluctantly passing round their baby and being given advice that doesn’t align with their instincts. A postnatal doula can provide a buffer to this, encouraging you to parent YOUR way, allowing you space to FEEL your way through the rawness of postpartum and work with your instincts to be the best for your baby. We can take care of the less important jobs to free your time to get to know your baby, prepare meals while you rest, care for your little one(s) while you shower… whatever is going to help you show up for yourself and your little one. Even if that is a shoulder to cry on or a chat with a hot cup of tea, we are there. Sometimes just knowing that someone is due to come round soon can help reduce the overwhelm of new parenthood.
How much do they cost?
We try our best to make our costs suit everyone and there is usually flexibility on pricing. In the North West of England, costing can vary but postnatal support can be based on between £15-£25 per hour. Those of us who are mentored will charge a little less than those who are recognized. This takes into account maybe less experience or encourages those we work with to offer feedback to mentors as we work towards recognition.
Packages are usually good value for money, allowing you to block book time with your doula in advance for slightly less than ad hoc hours. Most doulas have worked with different families in different contexts and have likely had their own children so try to make packages a simple way to help families get ideas of what they may need. This is especially helpful for first time parents. Packages will cost from a few hundred £’s to cover extended periods of time through pregnancy and postpartum and payment plans can be discussed with doulas to work out what works for you both.
Just like anyone providing a service, doulas put in a considerable amount of time, knowledge and commitment to the families they work with and are passionate about encouraging truly positive experience. If the cost is a concern for you at all, it’s still worth speaking with individual doulas if you feel you could benefit from their support. They can help you work out a way to make things affordable.
Is a doula worth the money?
That’s a personal choice. If you feel you could benefit from an impartial listening ear, an extra pair of hands, half an hour to yourself, some extra information, a confidence boost, a few hours sleep and waking up to a hot meal, then why not ask about it? Doulas will happily chat through their costs with you to explain what is included and most will offer a ‘discovery call’ with no obligation to book. Find someone you feel you could get on with and chat to a few. We all work slightly differently and support each other to give families what they need.
If you’re curious, book in for a chat with us. We are always happy to chat pregnancy, birth and beyond.