Everything about birth doulas, benefits and cost

Why everyone is hiring birth doulas and are they worth it

By Bettie Bransfield
Everything about birth doulas, benefits and cost

Is having Doula a right choice for you?

The term doula was first used in 1969 in a study by Dana Raphael when she noted that it is usual practice for a female of the same species to be a part of the childbirth process. Women have been helping women give birth for centuries, and we continue to do so using various resources today.

To hire or not hire a birth doula is a personal choice. Many women rave about having a birth doula at their side during and after delivery, but many women choose not to have one.

It can also depend on the type of birth you are looking to have. Are you going to be in a hospital setting or at home? Are you looking for someone who is experienced in a particular type of birth (i.e., natural)? Some studies show that the delivery can have a better outcome when a doula is present, but that does not mean you won’t if you do not have a doula present.

What is the role of a birth doula?

A birth doula is a woman who offers physical and emotional support during the prenatal period, during the delivery and birth period and after the baby is born. A doula has many roles that she can play depending on the type of birth and how involved you want her to be.

Prenatal care

The doula can be a bridge between medical providers and the expectant parents by accompanying a pregnant mother to her prenatal doctor visits, and she is available to answers questions daily about the pregnancy. A doula can track contractions when the time comes so that the partner can get things ready to go to the hospital or in preparation for a home birth. She can help get the mother settled into her hospital room as well as settle the father or partner in. She can walk with her around the hospital hallways, and she works through contractions or offering physical support (a squeeze on the hips) while the partner holds her.

A doula is especially helpful when it comes to home delivery as she can help set up the birthing pool and ensure all thing necessary for the birth are ready. She can help dad or the partner get mom comfortable as she prepares for delivery (getting her ice, or pillows) as well as help with clean up after the birth.

A doula should help during delivery by helping to cool clothes, remind mom to breath (dad too lol). Doulas many times can see the signs from the mother that she needs something before she has to ask for it. The doula can physically support the mother during the birth, offer a comforting touch or apply counter pressure when she is having contractions. She is also there to provide support for the partner. Many times, during this process we forget how stressful it can be for the partner seeing the mother in pain. She will guide the partner or dad on how to support the mother better and offer emotional support during delivery.

A doula can also explain what is happening during childbirth as many times the medical staff is concentrating on the medical procedure and cannot offer explanations to the mother or partner. The doula can take the time to explain what the medical staff is doing if it is a routine procedure and what is next. 

Postpartum Care

Postpartum care is a service some doulas offer as well. Helping the father or partner hold the child for the first time or help teach the mother to breastfeed are a few examples of how she can help. Some doulas will even come home with the new parents to help them get settled with the new baby by offering to do laundry or prep a meal.

Birth doula salary

When hiring a doula, you will want someone who is DONA (Doulas of North America) certified. There are different types of certification so do your homework to ensure you hire one with the training that is specific to your type of birth. You will want to interview your doula before hiring them. Since a doula will spend a good amount of time touching you, you will want to ensure you feel comfortable with them and trust that they know what they are doing.

Salaries for doulas can vary widely. It can depend on what certification they hold, what state you live in, what services you want from the doula and where you hire them from. Doulas can work independently or work with an agency. Some hospitals also offer doula services in their hospital at the time of delivery only.

If you want a doula who is there before the birth and who will offer services post-delivery, you will find they cost more. If you are looking for a doula just during childbirth, you will pay less. The cost of a doula can range between $800 to $2500. Many doulas can make between $37,000 to $41,000 a year depending on what services they are offering and where.

Birth doulas on postpartum services

Not all doula’s offer postpartum support. Those that have hired a doula offering postpartum services found it to be beneficial. It can be a stressful time to be recuperating as well as caring for a new baby. A doula who offers postpartum support can provide emotional support to the mother and the partner. In addition, they can help with the new baby by teaching ways to hold the baby, feed the baby and soothe the baby. Also, she can offer assistance with breastfeeding and address any issues the new mother may have.

Some doulas will offer services to help around the house after childbirth. The may offer to wash diapers or prepare meals. These services allow the new mother and partner to settle into their new roles as parents without the stress. Know what you need and check if the doula you are keen to hire offer these services.

Benefits of a birth doula

There are many benefits to having a doula. The most significant advantage is the continuous support she offers to the mother during this stressful time. There is so much going on during this time that expectant mothers can become overwhelmed. The doula can provide expert guidance during this time. Having someone to turn to who can answers questions and tell you that things are normal and going well can take a lot of stress off the mother. This goes for the father or the partner as they usually have concerns and questions too.

Statistical research has shown that having a doula can improve on the delivery process. Mothers who have a doula are less likely to have a cesarean birth, use medication among others.

Finally, a significant benefit of a doula is during delivery. Having someone who can help make the expectant mom more comfortable or adjust a position, makes suggestions on helping you get through the labor process, keep the environment around you quiet and safe, reminds you of your training for the delivery, is the biggest plus of having a doula.

Birth doula vs Midwife: what are the differences?

The difference between a doula and a midwife is medical training. Midwives hold a master’s degree in Nursing and have taken a national certification exam. This means that they can deliver babies outside a hospital setting. Furthermore, they have the training and knowledge base to know when a doctor is needed. A midwife can perform regular exams on the mother, assist the mother in making medical decisions for the birth plan should complications arise.

A doula is not medically trained and therefore cannot deliver a baby and is considered more of a childbirth coach. She cannot replace a healthcare provider. A doula offers emotional and physical comforts during the pregnancy and delivery.


Doulas can offer great additional support to a mother and partner during this amazing journey ensuring you are as fully prepared to the best as you can be for the birth of your child. This is a personal choice, and there is no right or wrong in hiring a birth doula. You must personally consider the cost, if you like someone in your personal space and how they can help you with the birth process you have chosen.