Seattle Doula


What Does a Postpartum Doula Do?


In ancient Greece, doulas were important servants that served the lady of the house. They assisted the lady during pregnancy and childbirth and through the postpartum period. The role doulas play today is very similar to the one they played in these ancient Greek households. Doulas are very knowledgeable companions during the pregnancy, birth and postpartum stages. There are birth doulas and postpartum doulas and each provides related but different assistance to the family.

While a birth doula assists the pregnant woman before and during birth, a postpartum doula is a companion for the days and weeks after the baby arrives. She provides useful information about how to take care of the newborn, with issues such as a bathing, feeding and soothing, offers emotional support for the entire family and even assists around the house with light household chores.

A postpartum doula’s responsibilities and services to the family vary from day to day, depending on what is needed. Since the most important goal of the postpartum doula is to ensure that the new mother is able to enjoy this time with her newborn and learn to care for the baby, the postpartum doula involves the whole family in assisting the mother. According to Doulas of North America, or DONA International, an organization that provides certification for doulas, a postpartum doula will help teach the rest of the family how to “mother the mother”. In other words, the doula’s responsibilities include teaching the other members of the family how to provide support for the new mother so that she is able to focus on the needs of the newborn without feeling overwhelmed.

A large part of what a postpartum doula offers mothers and family is education. The doula’s advice is based on evidence and research so that family members feel more confident about what they are doing. Postpartum doulas offer information and education on breastfeeding and other feeding methods, on bonding with baby, on soothing practices and on bathing, diapering and other general caring for the newborn. Postpartum doulas are knowledgeable about resources that a mother and family can use during this time such as support organizations, parenting organizations and medical professionals. Additionally, a doula works with the mother during the recovery period as she heals both emotionally and physically from the birthing experience.

Postpartum doulas are also involved with the rest of the family. They can teach the mother’s partner and the other children how to both nurture the mother and how to assist with caring for the newborn. They assist the family during this transitional time as the family adapts to the new addition. Some postpartum doulas can even help with the care of the older siblings, so that the new mother can devote the initial first days and weeks to caring for and bonding with the infant. As the doula teaches the rest of the family to care for the mother, the family becomes less dependent on the doula’s services.

Postpartum doulas can also assist the family with household chore that can sometimes become overwhelming for the new parents as they balance the needs of the newborn with maintaining a household and caring for other children. Some doulas offer light housekeeping, cleaning and cooking as part of their services. Others can also run some of the family’s errands to provide the new parents with more time with the infant.

Since caring for the mother is the central focus of the doula, the emotional wellbeing of the mother is also important. A postpartum doula cannot treat postpartum depression, but she can teach the mother about the signs of PPD and how to self-evaluate for these signs. She can also provide referrals to help the mother deal with any emotional issues that might arise during this time. At the same time, a postpartum doula’s role during this time is focused so that the new mother feels less pressure as she moves into this new stage in her life and in creating a space for the mother and the rest of the family that is safe and supportive. A doula does not judge, instead, she tries to ease the mother’s emotional and physical load during this time.

Postpartum doulas do not teach parents a specific parenting style. Instead, they are there to support the mother and family as they develop their own style of parenting that works for their family. As part of their role as a companion, doulas listen carefully to the mother’s or parents’ views and philosophies and offer advice based on evidence and their own experiences. However, the family decides how they want to parent their own children without any pressure from the doula.

The schedule of a postpartum doula can also vary greatly. Some doulas work a few hours a day for one to three days a week. Others can work with a family five days a week with a full-time schedule. Still others offer night time support to families to ease their adjustment during the difficult night time hours. Just like the hours and length of service each postpartum doula spends with a family vary so do the services they offer families.

The cost for the services of a postpartum doula is also determined by a variety of factors. It is affected by the location of the doula, the skill level and experience, the services provided and the hours the family needs the doula. Most doulas charge by the hour and many have a minimum number of hours of service that they require. According to, the cost for services of a postpartum doula can range from $15 to $50 an hour. Some doulas do offer discounts if the service is paid for in advance or if a certain amount of hours of service are required.

There are a few organizations that provide certification for doulas. These include DONA as well as CAPPA, or the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association. Certification means that the doula has met the international standards and completed the training set by these organizations.

June 16, 2012 |

What Should I Look For When Hiring a Birth Doula?


If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you want the best possible care for you and your unborn child. Most women will go with their chosen obstetricians through routine pregnancies that produce happy and healthy babies. Some women will choose to go a different route with midwives. Some will also hire doulas, trained women who serve as labor coaches. In a world that seems to get busier and more impersonal, doulas can help with questions your OB-GYN may not have time to answer. Deciding to hire a doula is an important decision, and knowing what you’re looking for when you do hire one is key to your peace of mind.

What is a Birth Doula?

If you’ve never heard of a birth doula, you’re not alone. Better known as a labor coach, doulas provide care on a much more intimate level than your primary healthcare provider. The word doula comes from Ancient Greek and translates as female servant. You will receive proper medical attention from the primary care physician you choose, be it an obstetrician, general practitioner or midwife. Doulas step in to “fill in the gaps” of information that you don’t get during your medical office visits. They can give you information, answer questions and even give advice as to which type of medical caregiver to choose during your pregnancy.

The Advantages of Hiring a Doula

Pregnancy is a time filled with joy and anticipation. It can also be a time of fears and questions. Visiting your doctor may alleviate some of your fears, but most office visits are limited in duration. Your primary care physician may not have the time to spend with you. A doula, however, does. While a doctor or midwife might have several patients in varying stages of pregnancy, your doula’s time is focused completely on you. A doula’s time spent with you will be much longer than time spent in your doctor’s office.

How to Find the Right Birth Doula

Once you’ve decided to hire a doula, you need to consider the qualities you’re looking for and the best way to find the right one. There are several routes to go when looking for a doula. You can give consideration to each and choose the source that best fits your needs.

Training and Experience

Your first criteria when choosing the right doula is training. Doulas are highly trained women who are ready to help you through an exceptional time in your life. You should keep in mind though, that someone can pass themself off as a doula without having gone through proper schooling. Your doula should be able to provide you with some evidence regarding experience. The more experience, the better, especially if it involves different types of births. Doula referral organizations can help verify potential doulas.


Another important factor to consider when choosing a doula is availability. You want someone who can be there for you at any moment. Your doula should have a schedule that ensures you will be taken care of in any possible situation. She should have a backup doula who can step in if necessary. Does your prospective doula have a family and a plan to take care of them once you go into labor?


You might want to look into other services your doula offers to enhance her coaching skills. Many doulas can fill other roles such as photographers, massage therapists, and herbalists to help you ease into the role of motherhood. When negotiating price, keep this in mind to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Doulas’ fees aren’t usually covered by insurance and can run into the thousands of dollars.


When interviewing doulas, do you feel a connection with any of them? This is perhaps the most important attribute when searching for the right doula. She will be with you through the duration of your pregnancy, coach you through delivery and help you settle in with postpartum doula care. You need to see this woman as someone you can trust, someone you can invite into your home, and someone you know will be there. Also, you will want to know her thoughts on pregnancy. What does she consider normal? How will she react to your questions? You will want to be on the same page with the doula you hire.


You will need to find out which services your doula will provide for the fees she charges. How many home visits can you expect before and after your baby is born? What level of care can you expect during delivery? Prices usually go up based on training and experience.

Referral Sources

One way to find the right doula is to ask, whether it be at your local hospital, your physician’s office or online. Most sites can give you information through searches or by phone. The following organizations are widely accepted for the referral help they provide.

Doulas of North America (DONA)

DONA is an excellent source when looking for a birth doula. It is the oldest doula referral association in the world as well as the largest. Referral information can also be obtained internationally.

The Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE)

Based in Cambridge, MA, the ALACE program is now being offered by The International Birth and Wellness Project. It offers a place for mothers and doulas to connect, providing referrals and training.

Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA)

CAPPA is an organization that offers a variety of training programs as well as referral services. Their online community offers opportunities for parents to connect with doulas and educators.

Whether or not to hire a doula is an important decision to make. If you decide a birth doula is what you need, finding the right one can be an exciting process as you prepare for the birth of your child.

June 16, 2012 |

What’s the Difference Between a Doula and a Midwife?


You have to make a lot of important decisions when you are expecting a baby. One of the most important decisions you will make is choosing who will assist you during the birthing process. The birth of a child is a wonderful process, but it can also be draining and scary. Having the right professionals by your side help you relax and had a positive birthing experience.

We all know that it is important to have the right birthing professionals, but some people are confused about the different roles that personnel can fill. If people are not familiar with the concepts of midwives and doulas, the titles can be used interchangeably. However, their roles are actually completely different.

The easiest way to understand the difference between a midwife and a doula is to realize that a midwife is a medical professional while a doula is a support professional.

A certified midwife has completed several years of intense medical training. Many medical professional complete midwife training after receiving their nursing degree. A midwife can perform many of the same functions as an obstetrician. She can confirm your pregnancy, handle prenantal care and perform a vaginal delivery. A midwife also has the ability to prescribe some medications and handle yearly gynecological examinations.

Midwives can practice independently, or they can work with other medical professionals in an office, hospital or birthing center. Many midwives work alongside obstetricians to provide care to expecting mothers. The Midwifery Education Accreditation Council provides certification for midwives who wish to work in a professional setting.

Many expecting moms choose midwives to handle their prenatal care and delivery because they like the level of personal care provided by midwives. Quality midwives are passionate about helping mothers become empowered during their pregnancy and birthing experiences.

There are no national regulations regarding midwife care, so each state has different regulations. Midwife laws vary greatly from state to state, so be sure to research your state’s laws before planning your birth.

A birth doula does not provide medical care to mom or baby before, during or after delivery. Instead, a doula is there to support the mom through her pregnancy and delivery. Some doulas also continue with the mom to provide postpartum care.

You will begin to form a relationship with your doula during your pregnancy. Normally, several meetings are scheduled to allow the expecting mother and doula to bond and interact. It is important to find a doula that you feel completely comfortable communicating with. During the meetings, the doula will ask questions about your health, pregnancy and birthing plan. For instance, you should tell the doula what type of interventions you would like to avoid and how you plan to manage your pain during labor.

After understanding your preferences, your doula can help you to develop a comprehensive birthing plan to guide you and your medical professionals during labor. A doula will be there to support you through each phase of your labor. Although she will not provide any medical treatment, she can help you manage your pain through massage and other relaxation techniques. Doula restrictions also vary by state, so consult with your doula regarding her experience and certification requirements.

A doula can also help your birthing partner through the labor process. This can be a stressful time, and an experienced doula will help everyone in the room to relax. After a mom has given birth, the doula can help make sure that breastfeeding is established properly. If you would like some additional help at home after your baby’s arrival, a postpartum doula will be there to support both mom and baby.

Doulas and midwives both play an important role, and thankfully, you do not have to choose between them. Many moms find that having both a midwife and a doula present during their labor ensures that their physical and emotional needs are all being met.

June 16, 2012 |

The Benefits of Hiring a Birth Doula


Giving birth often creates mixed feelings within new mothers to be. On the one hand, pregnancy and childbirth can be beautiful and natural moments in a woman’s life, leading to the presence of a miraculous new life. On the other, however, giving birth can also be scary and painful, raising questions of health and adequacy as a mother. Birth doulas can help women deal with all of these feelings and can help build up confidence in pregnant and birthing women.

The term “doula” comes from Ancient Greek and translates to “female servant” or “slave.” Modern day doulas are obviously neither slaves nor servants in the traditional sense, although they do strive to serve women who are in various stages of pregnancy and childbirth. Birth doulas are typically employed by women who are within a month of giving birth, and the bulk of their jobs consist of assisting a woman through the final weeks of pregnancy and helping her during the birthing process. There are also ante-partum and postpartum doulas who work with women before and after birthing, respectively.

Some women may be reluctant to hire a doula, thinking that they either do not need the presence of another woman while giving birth or because they figure that a close friend will serve well in the same role free of charge. Every woman has different tastes and needs, but many women find that they enjoy having a trained and professional doula who knows exactly what to do in certain pregnancy situations. Any woman who is considering hiring a doula should research and vet any possible candidate for the job since doula standards are not regulated in the United States. Doulas who come from reputable companies or who have good reputations will be helpful to a woman, while someone less qualified may do more harm than good.

Many doulas are hired a month to a few weeks before the woman gives birth; two reasons for this are that women often find it beneficial to have another woman help them through that last difficult month and because the women often want to have the chance to get to know their doulas better. Doulas help ease women’s fears during that last month of pregnancy; they can ease women’s physical discomforts by giving them back massages or cooking meals for them and they can ease women’s mental discomforts by giving them tips on how to care for newborns. A good doula projects an air of friendly professionalism that instills the new mother with confidence that she will be able to properly care for her new baby.

Another function of doulas–and the one for which birth doulas are most known–is to assist the woman who is giving birth. Doulas can be breathing coaches, encouragers, and relaxants, helping to keep the woman calm as she brings new life into the world. The role of a doula is not meant to supplant that of a birthing woman’s partner; in fact, a good doula will know how to best include the partner in the birth so that both the man and the woman will have a positive birthing experience. Conflicts have arisen between doctors, nurses, and doulas because some doulas intrude too much into the medical aspect of birthing. Good doulas know when to stand back and let the doctors work and when to comfort and encourage their charges.

While some doctors may resent the presence of doulas, others acknowledge that links have been discovered between doulas and several positive outcomes. Women who employ doulas have a lower rate of cesarean sections than do women who do not use doulas, for example. The presence of doulas in the delivery room has also led to a decreased amount of pain medication used while giving birth as well as an overall less trying birthing experience. Studies have been conducted that showed that babies also benefit from the presence of doulas; in fact, babies whose mothers had doulas in the delivery room had shorter hospital stays and were less likely to be checked into special care units than did babies whose mothers did not have doulas.

Every woman can potentially benefit from employing a birth doula, but a few types of women would be particularly appreciative of their services. Women who have not had many female influences on their lives would benefit from having a trained and experienced woman nearby who can impart wisdom and proper newborn care. Those women whose partners cannot be at the birth due to employment, deployment, or squeamishness would also derive comfort from the presence of a birth doula in the delivery room. New mothers who have never before given birth will not only appreciate the female encouragement provided by doulas but will also be grateful for the tips and advice about newborn childcare.

Those women who are interested in finding doulas have multiple avenues open to them in regards to searches. The Internet is an excellent place to find doulas since many doula businesses have webpages and some general doula sites offer online local doula locators. Word of mouth can also be helpful when searching for a doula; women should talk to their friends and acquaintances who have used doulas and find out which women or services they recommend. There are also telephone numbers that women in search of doulas can call, so finding good doulas is as simple as conducting a bit of basic research.

Women who enjoy the experience of having a birth doula may want to consider hiring a post-partum doula to help them through the first month or so of infant motherhood. Some birth doulas may also double as post-partum doulas, but many women hire doulas who are trained to deal only with the first few weeks of motherhood. Every woman will have to decide for herself how much help she wants and needs, but having a doula nearby to help with chores and tasks related to infant care can relieve a lot of pressure and stress associated with new motherhood.

June 16, 2012 |
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