As an expectant mom, do you know what to expect when hiring a doula? Today I am featuring someone on my blog that I recently connected with. As a prenatal yoga instructor, I work closely with expecting moms. I know there are many questions about labor and delivery and, even though I’ve had 3 kids myself, I don’t always feel equipped to answer all those questions. So I set out to connect with some local doulas in the area that I could build a relationship with and trust to send my mama’s to with these questions that I couldn’t answer. Tabitha Morrison and I connected over Instagram. I immediately had a draw to her vibrant personality, how honest and truthful she was about being a doula, what it entailed, and how much amazing content she put onto her feed with passion and purpose to help as many pregnant women as possible. Over a couple months we formed a true friendship and I know now that I can wholeheartedly trust sending my ladies to her with questions or possible hire. Now I never had a doula or midwife for my pregnancies or deliveries but was always interested in having one. Looking back, I wish I would have hired one, especially for my first baby. I believe the reason I didn’t pursue hiring a doula, was because I just didn’t know what it entailed, how to hire one, or even where to look for one. I figure if I have these questions and concerns then more than likely other expecting moms did as well. So I asked Tabitha with Bright Earth Doula to create a blog post for me to answer all of these questions.
What is a doula, what do they do?
I find a lot of time expecting families are searching for a midwife and that they think a doula is unnecessary if they have a midwife, but that is not entirely true. A doula is someone who is there in the room with you from the moment you request them to a few hours after you birth your baby. A midwife is essentially an OB, but their outlook on birth is more physiological than medical. If you are seeking to have an unmedicated birth free of unnecessary interventions, then a midwife is a great choice for your birth team. A midwife will not be in the room with you continuously, chances are they have other families in labor they have to attend to. A doula is there for you and your partner, applying hot and cold compresses, counter-pressure, suggesting changes in position, bringing your focus to your breath, and sending encouragement your way from start to finish.
How do I find a doula?
There are a lot of ways to find a doula, but my favorite sites are dona.org and doulamatch.net. At dona.org you will find only DONA certified doulas. Certified means they have attended at least 3 births and provided a minimum of 15 hours of labor support (it is usually way more than that). A certified doula is also required to submit 45 area resources, an essay on the importance of labor support, a reference from a perinatal professional, a reference from a client, complete a DONA training workshop, complete a reading list, and submit paperwork for each birth they attended for certification. On doulamatch.net you can find doulas who may or may not be certified, how many births they attended are required to be on the site, prices etc.
If you want to birth your baby at a stand-alone birth center like the Minnesota Birth Center, Roots, or Health Foundations they often have doula interns for little to not cost. Woodwinds in Woodbury has a doula on-call program; however, you do not get to meet the doula before you arrive to the hospital, you simply get whoever is on call.
Some insurance options reimburse a certain amount for a doula. Medicaid and HSAs often help cover the entire cost or partial cost of a doula. BUT not all doulas are covered with Medicaid. Be sure to check with your insurance before hiring a doula!
What do I ask a doula?
The reality is, there are hundreds of lists you can Google to find questions to ask a doula, but I think one of the most important things to know is that a doula comes at a price (I will tell you some other options later) and don’t interview a doula who has their prices clearly labeled if you are not willing to pay them that. With that being said, there is a wide range of prices when it comes to having a doula in the Twin Cities, $800-$1200 is pretty standard. The payment is usually broken up in half, half at the time the contract is signed and the other half by 36-weeks gestation.
I don’t get this question often, but some families will ask how many births I have attended. I don’t dislike this question, but I don’t think a determination should be made off of this number. Why? A brand new, trained doula has a lot of knowledge they are ready to use. They are unbiased to any techniques and willing to try anything. They have new energy and are unlikely to be spreading themselves too thin. You may find a doula working towards their certification will offer an extremely discounted rate.
Always ask a doula what their package offers. The standard package usually includes:
- 1-2 prenatal meetings (2 hours/meeting)
- On call from 37-42 weeks
- Present for your birth up to 2 hours after you have birthed your baby
- 1 postpartum visit (1-2 hours)
Ok, so what is a prenatal meeting? During this time your doula will likely get to know you by asking some questions like your fears about labor and delivery as well as the postpartum period. Prenatal meetings are also a good time to cover any educational aspects of childbirth and to test out some natural pain management techniques.
What does being on-call mean for a doula? Being on call means that from 37 – 42 weeks, your doula has their phone on and next to them 24 hours a day. If we are at a wedding or other event it’s not too far away and we will leave to come be with you if you are in labor. In the event we are on a vacation or an event we don’t want to miss, the dates should be known before you sign the contract. For example, I plan to go out of town for the 4th of July so I would tell my clients that I will be out of town from July 3-7 and during that timeframe I would have a backup doula available for them.
When does a doula arrive when I’m in labor? Doulas often arrive at your home when you request them to help you manage your labor pain and drive separately to the hospital or birth center and remain with you until after your baby has been born for up to 2 hours. A good rule of thumb is if you begin being unable to distract yourself during contractions it’s probably a good time to call the doula! BUT always let them know as soon as you think they are in labor, so they can make childcare arrangements if needed.
What happens at the postpartum visit? The postpartum visit is usually scheduled by the family 4-7 days after baby has arrived (or later if requested). At this visit the doula will go over your birth story with you and fill in the gaps. This is usually a time to chat about all things baby, but doulas will often be amiable to grab groceries for you (reimbursed of course), fold laundry for your, or watch baby while you grab a quick shower.
What I listed above is the standard, the basics. Doulas may also offer photography (this may not be an extra cost for all doulas), a postpartum package with lactation goodies or meal prep help, some doulas double as lactation consultants or car seat technicians, placenta encapsulation, and/or postpartum doula work and the list goes on.
Interview the doula you are interested in, in person or over the phone. You have to make sure you get along with them. I recommend interviewing a few doulas, but sometimes you vibe with someone right away and don’t want to continue on the search, and that’s fine too.
About Tabitha Morrison
Tabitha Morrison is a DONA certified birth doula. She has been a birth doula for almost a year now and believes she could not have asked for a better career change. She formerly used to be in the USAF Reserves and her civilian job was as an office manager for a maintenance unit based in Minneapolis. After having her son, she didn’t want to go back to work but did until her son was almost 2 1/2 years old. She was miserable at work and knew it was time for a change, so she quit and dove into her doula work. She completed her doula training in June 2019 and was awarded her certification before Christmas of 2019.
Tabitha’s business is called Bright Earth Doula and she prides herself on being prompt and responsive to her clients. Tabitha jokes that her military background, as well as being a mother has provided her a unique set of skills to be an amazing doula such as she can stand and stay awake for long periods of time.
Tabitha provides support not only from pregnancy through birth but also through the first 12 weeks postpartum, the fourth trimester. As a new mom, she found the fourth trimester to be lonely and filled with a lot of unknowns with no one to talk to about her newborn who hated the pacifier, his car seat, and sleeping on his back. She was breastfeeding for what felt like 20 hours a day and was touched out. She didn’t even know that was a thing. Let’s face it, Google is a blessing and a curse. Your newborn has strange breathing patterns (which is normal) but all of a sudden Google has you scheduling an appointment with your pediatrician.
Tabitha strives to provide her clients a sense of empowerment through all of the stages of becoming a parent for the first time, or even a renewed sense of self for the second, third, or fourth time.
Tabitha can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at www.brightearthdoula.com.