As I’m reading more about doulas I have come to the conclusion that a doula’s life and profession can look many different ways. Which I think is part of what draws me to this profession. There’s a very ‘out of the box’ type of thinking partnered with this field. There’s 3 types of doulas antepartum, birth, and postpartum. There are doulas that are volunteer only and doulas who require payment. There are doulas that require actual money or will work for a trade of services. There are also doulas who are certified through an actual doula organization and doulas who are not certified but do it because they want to help others! Anyway you go you’re bound to find a doula right for you and where you are in your walk of life…
The 3 types of doulas:
1. ANTEPARTEM DOULA – hired in situations where there is a high risk pregnancy; and assists the mother in whatever needs to be taken care of in her world (within agreement of the contract) this doula helps before the birth. For example, say expectant mom ‘Sarah’ is in her 36th week of pregnancy aka – 8 months pregnant and Sarah has been prescribed by her doctor to bed rest for the last month, for whatever reason she needs to be physically putting her feet up. I’m sure Sarah would really like to be in bed resting as making a baby is a lot of work! However there might be things in Sarah’s life that are pulling her away from actually spending most of her time in bed/on the couch off her feet etc. This is where antepartem doula comes in handy. She can be hired to help do whatever’s needed so that Sarah can rest. Antepartem doulas are a newer addition to the doula world, but they are invaluable! They are known to help with light house work, laundry, and running any errands. An antepartum doula might cook some dinners and stock the freezer, that way when baby is here Sarah can just heat up the already prepped dinner for easy dinners!
2. BIRTH DOULA - hired to work with mom Sarah and her partner for the actual birth process. The birth doula is who meets with Sarah usually a couple times during weeks 32-37 to create a birth plan, help to make hospital or birthing center arrangements and, addresses any concerns Sarah may have doula to stay all the way through the entire birth to make sure Sarah and her partner’s wishes are carried out as much as possible. There’s usually a follow up meeting after the birth for the doula to come to Sarah’s house to check on her and make herself available to the couple should any concerns arise. The doula would then have many resources for referring Sarah and her partner to.
3. POSTPARTEM DOULA – is hired to help mother Sarah and her family adjust to the new addition in their family. There’s a new rythem in the house and as expected the immediate priorities have shifted a bit to accomidate their new baby! A postpartem doula is hired to help with light house work, heating up those pre-cooked meals, or making something fresh, helping with any laundry or running of errands that are needed. Essentially a postpartem doula does what the antepartem doula did except now being other side of the birth and pregnancy mom Sarah might have different concerns or questions or needs. Maybe she needs some time to rest, needs assistance in finding a breast feeding expert, she could simply need a 2 hour block of time to take a shower or a couple hours to do a hobby that brings her mind and body balance…again whatever the mother is needing (within the agreed contract) is what a postpartem doula does.
Payment- I’m also learning that some doulas don’t necessarily charge for their services. They see their doula services as a way to serve others; doula is from the greek language meaning servant. Some do charge for their services and work out different ways of payment that work for the client. All of this should be discussed before the actual process begins. To avoid any unspoken expectations or uncomfortable situations. Some doulas are willing to provide their services while being paid through a trade of another kind of service. For example: if mom Sarah can’t pay her birth doula with actual money but her husband is a carpenter, as chance would have it birth doula has always wanted a gazeebo in her back yard…maybe they would trade the doula services for a building of a gazeebo?? This would be a situation where they would trade services as a method of payment.
Certification – Some doulas are certified through a doula orgranization and others are not. The one’s who are not usually have a lot of life experience and are comfortable walking mom Sarah through her process. Whereas there are some doulas who go through a certification process and receive training from other doulas who have been in the field much longer! Either way mom Sarah should decide what is more comfortable for her in her present situation. Maybe Sarah has an older sister who’s had 5 kids and is a great source of support and strength for her?? She may consider asking her sister to be a doula-person for her? Or she could definately find a doula in her local town to help her in her process.
With all these options available to expectant mom’s, it amazes me that there’s not more of an awareness in our society of these services. Hence my blog!! ;0) I can see how one might waiver toward one situation or another which is why it is good that you get to decide for yourself what is important to you and what your priorities are. Maybe you have a great support system of your own but you still want a doula present in case your partner needs a break … you can consider hiring a birth doula who is in training. They usually charge less and some are even known to only require a written evalutaion from you as form of payment as they are trying to acquire expeirnece and hours for their own certification.
I myself have decided to become a Certified Doula. I am receiving my certification through a well known organization called Doulas of North America. (aka – DONA). You can read more about them on their website www.dona.org. As I get into my process of certification I’ll be happy to share with you the steps that are required.
As far as payment for me…let me just say for the record that I am open to money and trades of service as well – however I’ll only need one gazeebo in my yard. :0)