You’re actively preparing your home birth space, have a great connection with your midwife, and have a positive mindset towards the big day. At this point, you’re feeling confident and ready for your home birth!

But you find yourself wondering, “Should I hire a doula for my home birth?”.

Like many things when it comes to planning for birth, there’s a wide range of normal. Your home birth will be your unique experience. At the end of the day, only you can decide if a doula will enhance your birth story and experience.

So, should you hire a doula for your home birth?

There are a few factors to consider before deciding if you should hire a doula. Having a doula present at your homebirth is not a requirement by any means. However, there are a lot of positives to having an extra set of knowledgeable and experienced hands present at your home birth. Doulas are linked to more positive birth experiences and dramatically lower rates of C-sections and other medical interventions.

Let’s learn a little bit more about doulas to help you decide if hiring a doula is the right decision for your home birth.

What is a doula?

In short, a doula is a woman who supports mothers in the childbearing cycle. Generally, when people talk and hear about doulas, they are talking about birth doulas. Birth doulas are women who are professionally trained in childbirth to provide support in labor and delivery.

While they do have knowledge of childbirth, doulas are not medical professionals and cannot take the place of a midwife in your home birth. Rather, they are professional birth coaches.

There are actually three different kinds of doulas to know about:

Birth Doulas

Birth doulas are women that have extensive training and experience in childbirth. Doulas are certified birth professionals that provide physical and emotional support during labor and delivery.

They also provide partner support, bridge communication with physicians and other birth professionals, and advocate for the birthing mother’s wishes.

When you hire a birth doula, you typically have a number of scheduled meetings with them prior to your labor and delivery. During these meetings your birth doula provides education, advice, and support related to your birth wishes.

Postpartum Doulas

Perhaps lesser known than birth doulas, postpartum doulas provide support to new mothers during the “fourth trimester”, those first few weeks after baby is born.

Postpartum doulas provide emotional support to the birthing mother during their transition into motherhood. Postpartum doulas support partners and help with things around the house like cooking and tidying. They do anything needed to create an easier transition. Many postpartum doulas are also certified to provide lactation support as well.

Antepartum Doulas

Antepartum doulas may be the least known type of doula. These doulas support women in high-risk pregnancies. For example, women who are on bed-rest may hire an antepartum doula.

What are the benefits to hiring a doula for my home birth?

Doulas are a wonderful asset for many women during their home births. This might be especially true if this is your first birth in general or first home birth. First births, or new birth experiences, are filled with unknowns.

A doula might also be especially beneficial to your home birth experience if you are the kind of person who thrives on the energy of other people. Do you love feeling supported and want to be cheered on and encouraged throughout your labor and delivery? Then a doula is a wonderful addition to your birth team.

It’s natural to feel some uncertainty as this monumental event approaches. Setting yourself up with an amazing birth team, including a doula, is a way to calm your mind and prepare mentally for your home birth.

Doulas bring knowledge and experience

So you’ve probably taken the time to choose the perfect midwife for your home birth. Why do you need a doula too? Because the more birth knowledge and experience to surround and support you in your home birth the better.

Doulas bring a different skillset than midwives because they are solely focused on the support side of labor and delivery. Their minds do not have the divided focus of the midwife’s who is also making sure you are medically safe.

Doulas involve and support partners in the birth experience

Another huge benefit to hiring a doula for your home birth is the support and peace of mind they can provide your partner. If your partner has anxieties surrounding your safety in home birth or is worried about their ability to support you during labor in general, a birth doula can really help.

The sole focus of a birth doula is to help you realize your birth wishes and vision. This might mean getting your partner as involved as possible. Birth doulas can teach partners how to provide pain management (such as counter-pressure during contractions) and emotional support to the birthing mothers during labor.

Birth doulas can also help communicate what is happening at various points in labor and delivery to partners. This will help ease their worries and boost their confidence.

Doula care has been linked to lower rates of medical interventions and C-sections

If you’ve chosen a home birth, you’re likely committed to a natural birth experience. Having a doula present at your birth may further increase your odds of a natural delivery.

In fact, the largest study and review of labor outcomes in births with continuous labor support, published in 2011, found that women with doula support during labor and delivery were:

  • 28% less likely to have a C-section
  • 31% less likely to use synthetic oxytocin to speed up labor (Pitocin)
  • 34% less likely to rate their childbirth experience negatively
  • 9% less likely to use any pain medication

These outcomes were even better, and intervention rates even lower, in settings where medical pain interventions were not routine, such as at birth centers and during home births.

What are the potential cons to hiring a doula for my home birth?

While there are many benefits to hiring a doula, it’s important to look at potential cons to help you make the most informed decision. Hiring a doula is not the right choice for everyone and here are some of the most common reasons why.

You consider yourself a private person

For some women, an additional person in the room is just not necessary. It may even increase your anxiety or unease during labor and delivery. If you are a highly private or sensitive person this may be the case. If this is you, it might be better to focus on your bond and relationship with your midwife rather than throw another person into the mix.

Your partner is not on board with the decision

While you are the one physically giving birth, this birth experience also belongs (partially) to your partner. If you partner is opposed to hiring a doula it might make sense to listen to them. Be sure to understand exactly why he doesn’t think a doula is a good idea before ruling it out completely.

If his fear is that the doula will replace him during the birth experience, help him understand that this will not be the case! Explain that a doula will empower him and help him.

You’re concerned about the expense

When you are calculating the cost of your home birth, adding a doula to your budget is significant. If your budget is already stretched for your home birth, then hiring a doula might not make the most sense.

Instead, focus on how your midwife and husband can provide the physical and emotional support that a doula might have. Consider a natural childbirth class geared towards couples to prepare your partner to support you.

How much does it cost to hire a doula for a home birth?

The cost of a doula depends greatly on where you live, and how much experience the doula has. Generally, the range is $800-$2500. Most of the time, doulas charge a flat fee that includes meetings prior to labor and delivery and 24/7 presence throughout your entire birth.

There is a possibility that your insurance provider will cover some or all of the cost associated with hiring a doula. It’s always worth a call to find out!

How can I find a doula for my home birth?

If you think that hiring a doula for your home birth is the right decision, then it’s time to start looking for one! Just like finding a midwife for your home birth, a great place to start is with an online doula database.

From there, you can check out the websites of doulas in your area and set up doula interviews. Another great way to find a doula is by word of mouth. Be sure to ask your midwife, friends and loved ones for their recommendations.

When you are interviewing prospective doulas be sure to find out about their training and certifications, past experience, birth philosophies and how payment works.

What do you think, momma?

You now know about the different kinds of doulas, benefits to having a doula attend your birth, and possible drawbacks. As you think more about hiring a doula, be sure to keep the financial aspect in mind, too.

So, should YOU hire a doula for your home birth?

Will a doula provide a better birth experience, or are you leaning against hiring a doula?

We’d love to hear what you’re thinking in a comment below!

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