A doula is an experienced support person who provides non-clinical care during pregnancy, birth and the early postnatal period. A birth doula is able to provide continuity of care, assistance with drafting a birth plan, reassurance and encouragement, breathing and relaxation techniques, and massage. She will get to know you, your partner and your aspirations for birth during your pregnancy. She comes to you in labour when you are ready for her and will stay with you until your baby is born. She provides support to your partner as well as to yourself. Doulas can fulfill many roles depending on your particular needs and circumstances. A postnatal doula can reassure and support, help establish feeding, care for older siblings, do light housework and prepare meals.
A doula does not perform medical tasks and she does not replace your medical care provider.
Levels of experience, training and cost vary. A birth doula may charge between $200 and $1200. Postnatal doulas charge hourly rates. It is worth speaking with a number of doulas to find the right support and price for you.
Doulas can support you in hospital, the Family Birth Centre or at home. Early research on the doula option indicates that women experience shorter labours, have less interventions and a greater sense of satisfaction with their birth.
Websites to explore are:
Or, take a look at our links page which has listings for local doulas.