Dads and Doulas
It is only recently that dads have been invited into the labor room—and not only has Dad been invited, he's been given an enormous job! With as much as six to ten hours of childbirth classes, a man is expected to provide uninterrupted and unconditional emotional and physical support, guidance, and advocacy to the woman he loves. And the job is largely his alone—a tremendous load for anyone's shoulders. This is where a doula can be so appealing, as she provides support for Dad as well as Mom.
Don, a first-time dad from a Boston suburb, felt misgivings when his wife Carol suggested they use a doula. "My initial reaction was: I can take care of my wife. But then the reality set in and I realized that there were so many questions I couldn't answer. There was so much going on in her body. How could I really know how to help her?"
Don felt the pressure lift as he gradually welcomed the idea of using a doula. "I felt relief from the stress and anticipation I was feeling. Now I could focus on supporting my wife the way I knew how. I didn't have to ask myself anymore, 'Can I handle this?'"
Moms and Doulas
Carol knew she wanted the extra support from the start. "I had a lot of fear about giving birth and knew I needed help with this. I was confident all of our medical bases were covered—we'd been to class, read all the books and asked all the technical questions. Once we met our doula, I felt so much more comfortable. Here was someone who really understood my perspective and wasn't just focusing on the medical facts and figures."
"Being able to call for support as my due date approached was so helpful, too. Friends just weren't knowledgeable about some of my concerns and didn't have the birth experience and perspective that a doula does."
In general, a doula's services cost somewhere between $300 to $600; most insurance policies do not cover doula care. Ask your doula to help submit a claim to learn if you have coverage. (When enough consumers ask for the coverage, the health insurance industry may get the hint.)
While doulas are still only present at a very small percentage of births, the knowledge of what we offer is growing as more and more families sing our praises. The World Health Organization, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, the Institute for Health Care Improvement (Boston), and the Medical Leadership Council (an organization of 1,200 US hospitals) all support the use of doulas.