Some questions come up frequently. So if you’re wondering something it may well be so are lots of people. Here are some answers we hope will help but if your question isn’t answered here then please do use our contact page to get in touch and ask.

I’m not planning a home birth, so would I need a doula?

Lots of people find the support of their doula at their birth centre or hospital birth invaluable. It’s maybe a stereotype that doulas are for the “kind of people who have home births” but doulas are for all kinds of people who want all kinds of births. It’s also worth adding that if you have a stereotype of people who choose home birth that doesn’t include you it might be worth doing a little research because all kinds of people also enjoy home births. They are not for everyone but people from all sorts of walks of life feel the most comfortable and safe birthing at home once they know a bit more about it. 

But if you are planning to birth in hospital or a birth centre here are some of the ways a doula can support you.

  • Making your birth plan -not a wish list for your perfect birth but a process of thinking through the different things you may be offered as part of your birth, the choices you would make around those things, how you like to be supported when you’re having a tough time, what your choices would be if things didn’t go according to your first choices for your birth.
  • Helping you remember and have without having to ask the comfort measures you have talked about in your birth planning sessions.
  • Supporting and encouraging you when you feel overwhelmed by your labour. 
  • Supporting and encouraging your partner (if you have one) so that they can feel calm and confident and support you the best ways they can.
  • Helping you ask questions that help you make informed decisions about anything that you are offered in terms of health care during your labour. 
  • Supporting you with skin-to-skin and feeding when your baby arrives. 
  • Basically it’s up to you, what would make your labour and birth a more satisfying experience is unique to you so decide what you want and interview some doulas and pick the one who gives you the feeling you’re looking for. 

My hospital is restricting birth partners. Does this mean I can’t have a doula?

While this was more of an issue during covid lockdowns there still seem to be some occasions where hospitals will have a temporary “one birth partner” policy. This is disappointing especially as it ignores the fact that the kind of support your doula brings to your birth is evidence-based to reduce unnecessary interventions and increase positive feelings about your birth experience. If you have a chat with a consultant midwife or equivalent at your hospital some may be willing to make an exception. But sadly yes, in many cases, this may mean you have to choose between having your doula or your partner with you in the hospital. The silver lining is that you will still have had your doulas support with making your birth plans and all her tips and tricks for making your own decisions as you go. You can also have your doula with you in early labour and this massively reduces the likelihood that you will go into the hospital before you’re really ready to be there and therefore the likelihood that you will birth without intervention (if this is your preference) shortly after you arrive. Your doula can also give you and your partner over the phone support. Being available by phone or text or even video call will allow your doula to help your partner keep calm and be the best support that you need. They can also help you think/talk through any unexpected decisions that come up this way. 

Why would I need a doula if my partner is willing to be with me?

If you feel you would like it to just be your partner with you on the day that’s completely fine. Maybe you would like doula support before and after but not during your labour and birth? That’s available and has lots of benefits too. But if you’re worried your doula will try to replace your partner please know this is not what doulas are for. Doula support has actually been observed to help partners feel more confident and connected with you and so to be the wonderful birth partner you want them to be. Your partner is having a momentous transition to parenthood alongside you and many partners find the whole experience overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. Doulas support both partners and help you to communicate with each other and express your needs and look after your partner so they can stay fed and hydrated, go to the toilet as they need to and get some sleep if the labour is very long so that they can be present in the moment when you need them to be. 

What’s the difference between an antenatal class and a doula antenatal session?

 Doula antenatal sessions are personalised to you. Your doula will learn about you and what matters to you, and they will share more information on the things that are relevant to you as an individual rather than the set course that tries to cover as much as possible in a short space of time. 

You may well still want to do an antenatal class especially if it teaches skills such as hypnobirthing and to meet other people having babies at the same time as you. This social aspect has lots of benefits for when all your babies have arrived and knowing it’s not just you struggling with newborns’ sleep, feeding etc. But if antenatal classes don’t take your fancy you can also make these kinds of friends in online forums, baby massage groups etc. Some doulas also run postnatal groups which you can join regardless of if you’re that doulas client or not. 

Will my doula be vaccinated? 

This is a very personal question. Doulas all have different personal points of view and the right to make their own unique decisions. If it’s very important to you you can ask doulas this as part of the interview process. However, as it is considered personal information by some people they may decline to answer this question. You will have to decide whether or not this is a deal breaker for you if they are perfect for you in every other way. 

What is shared care, why would I want two doulas?

Because life is unpredictable there’s always the possibility your doula may not be able to be with you on the day (illness and family bereavement being two possible reasons) so you will always want to ask your doula do they have a backup doula or other arrangement or policy for this. Having a doula team in a shared care situation means that you know both doulas well and the backup situation is that you have one of your first choices. On top of that doulas all have their individual strengths and extra training etc so when you have shared care you get a “twice as deep” information and support well. 

Will my doula wear a face mask?

If this is the current recommendation from a public health point of view your doula will be happy to wear a mask (or will be upfront before you choose them as to why this isn’t possible for them). They will also be happy to listen and discuss your needs if you have reasons that you would need someone working closely with you to wear a mask under normal circumstances also.

Do doulas do stuff with placentas?

Some doulas will support you with consuming or storing your placenta if that’s your choice or they can refer you to a Placenta Remedies Specialist. 

Do doulas support families going through assisted conception?

Some doulas can do this. If you see a doula advertising full spectrum doula services this is likely one of the stages of life they will support you with. You can always ask the doulas who you feel interested in if this is something they offer, no one will mind you asking.

When should I book my doula? Can doulas support in early pregnancy?

You can book your doula the same day you get your positive pregnancy test (or even before) and they will be able to tell you what they can offer in the way of support through your early pregnancy as it may be an add-on to their usual doula practice which usually covers a certain number of antenatal meetings, the on-call period and the birth. 

Do doulas support families through loss?

Some doulas will have extra training for supporting baby loss. All doulas can offer the usual gentle space holding they offer as doulas but if you would like someone who has extra training or experience look out for them sharing this on their website or social media or just message and ask the one’s you’re interested in.

Do doulas support Unassisted or Freebirths?

Some doulas will support and be with you as you free birth. Please always be honest that this is your plan when you are interviewing doulas so you can get a good idea if this specific doula will feel right to you to have with you as you labour and birth. Please remember that a doula’s role doesn’t change when you are free birthing they can still only offer social, practical and emotional support and not offer any medical advice or perform any medical tasks.

Are doulas the same as midwives?

No midwives are health professionals they are responsible for ensuring the health of both mother and baby as the labour and birth occurs and in the antenatal and postnatal periods. They have many similar qualities of caring for and supporting women but doulas never take any medical tasks or any medical responsibilities they are only there for emotional and practical support.

I’m a single mum can a doula support me too?

Absolutely yes. If you’re a single mum a doula may be exactly what you need to feel confident and supported as you make your own informed choices and go through your labour and birth. Your doula will be happy to work along side any other friend or family member you would also like at the birth or to be your sole birth partner if that’s your choice.

How much will a doula cost? 

From the doula UK website “A birth doula usually charges a fixed price for a birth doula support package. Exactly what this includes will vary from doula to doula. Expenses and mileage may be included in this package fee or may be invoiced later.

A deposit (retainer fee) is usually required on booking with a birth doula.”

In Hampshire most doulas charge between £1500 and £3000 for a birth package depending on area, experience and other skills. Postnatal doulas usually charge by the hour, generally somewhere between £20-40 per hour.

A wise person once suggested families look at the day of their baby’s birth like they would look at a wedding day, something that’s worth saving up for in order to have the best possible day. You will remember the day your baby is born vividly for the rest of your life it’s worth investing in making that a positive memory. But if you’re worried you can’t afford a doula then please do get in touch with a few and explain your circumstances often things can be worked out, such as with payment plans. Also did you know you can ask friends and family who want to buy you a gift for doula vouchers? In some circumstances you can also apply for the doula UK doula access fund.

How often will my doula visit me antenatally and postnatally?

Most doulas will meet with clients at least twice before the birth and often more times and then at least once after the birth as part of their basic birth package but it’s not really about specific number of hours it’s about how well your doula gets to know you and understand you and about how comfortable you come to feel with her. Your doula will spend time chatting with you on the phone and emailing or texting with you when you have questions between appointments so there’s lots of ways she will get to know and understand you before the birth and support you after the birth.

How soon will my doula be with me once labour has started?

As soon as you want your doula to be there she will join you. In the early stages of labour your doula may encourage you to rest and sleep as much as possible and she may offer to give you and your partner private time to snuggle and relax together but that’s because she know the less you are disturbed and the less you feel observed the easier your body will find it to go into the established part of your labour. As soon as you feel you need support you just need to say to your doula you need her and she will be with you and stay with you.

How long will my doula stay with me after the birth?

Again this is best answered by you, your doula will stay as long as you continue to want her to. If you’re having baby in the hospital she may be asked to leave when you go to the postnatal ward if it’s not visiting hours but other than that she will stay through all of the time after baby is born while you have skin to skin and feed your baby for the first time. She will help you shower etc if you would like her to and she will support you through any stitches you may need etc.

Will a doula support me if my decision would be a planned caesarian birth?

Yes doulas support all births. If you’re planning a caesarian your doula will help you to have all the information so you’re sure you’ve made an informed decision and will help you to make a caesarian birth plan and  support you to ensure your doctor can support your choices. On the day your doula will help you to remain calm and focused as you wait for your turn in the operating theatre and will go into theatre for you if there is no one else you want there. She will help you to have skin to skin and learn to feed your baby after baby arrives.

What is my doulas role if baby arrives before midwife attends (home birth)?

Doulas will always do their best to make sure that a midwife is called at just the right time to arrive at the point of labour that the labouring mum wants them there but occasionally baby’s take everyone by surprise and arrive much quicker than expected before a midwife can make it. In this circumstance your doula will call or will encourage your birth partner to call the emergency services who probably won’t be needed but who are handy to have available just in case (and when they arrive she will help encourage them to be quiet gentle and respectful of the home birth atmosphere). If baby arrives even before emergency services your doula will support and encourage you or your partner as you catch your own baby. She will never take any medical responsibilities and can’t replace the midwife but she can help you feel calm if you find yourself giving birth before medical support arrives.

If you want to choose a ‘free birth’ where you deliberately choose to birth without medical attendants some doulas will be willing and able to support you but they will continue to just offer practical and emotional support and won’t ever take on the role of a midwife under any circumstances.