So what is a doula? You probably never heard of them until recently. Doulas have a philosophy of birth that is very similar to that of midwives. They have a special heart to help women through the labor as a support person, understands her needs in the moment and helps provide comfort. The main difference between a midwife and a doula is the midwife is a medical professional who does the clinical or medical care that a doula does not do. In fact, the doula role fills the need to provide the continuous care that midwives have given throughout the ages, but can only do if they are not busy with the medical care. Studies have shown that midwifery care and the presence of a doula in labor results in less use of medications and cesareans, as well as shorter labors.
Most doulas specialize in labor and birth support, while others specialize in postpartum doula care. Several organizations offer certification for doulas, including DONA (Doulas of North America), toLabor (formerly ALACE), CAPPA, BirthWorks, and ICTC, amongst others. Some doulas choose not to pursue certification, as well.
Birth doulas usually arrive early in labor and remain until after the birth, providing continuous physical and emotional support throughout the entire process. Doulas recognize that childbirth is a transformative experience, one that deserves special attention and support in order to preserve the parents’ wishes, foster bonding, and become a cherished life-long memory. They have an understanding of the physiologic changes a woman undergoes during birth, and have skills to help the woman cope with challenges along the way. Doulas offer encouragement and hands-on comfort measures, emotionally and physically supporting the couple, but they do not perform clinical skills.
Doulas also help by advocating for the family’s wishes. This is especially important for hospital births, where there may be several interventions offered or encouraged by the doctor or labor and delivery nurses. Doulas know about common interventions, their risks and benefits, and can help the couple when making decisions about their care.
A doula does not take the place of the woman’s partner. In fact, a doula can help the woman’s partner to be able to provide effective comfort measures, and can help share the work of labor support. Ideally, the doula and the woman’s partner work together as a team of support for the woman.
Postpartum doulas offer support to families who have just had a baby. They are able to help with breastfeeding instruction and support, as well as baby care, sibling adjustment, meal preparation, and light housekeeping. Having good support during the postpartum period can lessen the likelihood and severity of postpartum depression, increase success in breastfeeding, boost confidence in parenting skills, and make these early weeks a much more pleasant experience.
Unfortunately this type of care has become costly and is not generally covered by insurance. Because of that NOVA Natural Birth Center has put together a nice package of additional services at a greatly reduced price. Our Full Circle Package includes the care of one of our experienced on call doulas, a one hour class of either childbirth review or breastfeeding preparation AND Placenta Encapsulation for $999. Reduced from a typical price of $1500 plus for the same services. We hope this will make it more affordable for you. We can occasionally arrange for you to have a doula-trainee who is in process of her certification and offers an even steeper discount. Please let us know if you are interested or have more questions. Call us at 703-357-3808 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Service Area: NOVA Natural Birth Center midwives serve families throughout the entire Northern Virginia area and about 50 + miles surrounding our Chantilly location. We are near the Dulles International Airport and serve the following communities, Aldie, South Riding, Centreville, Dulles, Fairfax, Falls Church, Reston, Herndon, Ashburn, Sterling, Leesburg, Arlington, Alexandria, Annandale, Burke, Springfield, Manassas, Woodbridge, Gainesville, Haymarket, Bristow, and beyond. We also attend home births in these areas. Some couples come to the birth center from Washington DC, Maryland and beyond. If you live near the border of our service area, we may, depending upon your exact location, still be able to help you or refer you to a midwife who lives closer to you.