Doula: What, Why, And How
On August 1, 2023 Louisiana House Bill 272 was signed into law and will go into effect on January 1, 2024. This bipartisan bill requires private insurance in Louisiana to cover maternity services provided by a doula. Some Medicaid plans are already covering doula services, but what is a doula, and what exactly does she do?
I asked Baton Rouge doula Ashaki Tobas, BA, CBS and Co-Owner/Founder of Maternal Love BR to shed some light on some common doula questions.
What is a doula?
Doulas are trained and experienced labor companions. Doulas provide emotional, physical, and spiritual support to women and their families before, during and after childbirth.
What is a doula’s role?
The role of a doula is to simultaneously provide individualized care to empower and motivate families and their birth teams before, during and after birth! We provide informational support and advocacy. We support our parents & families. We teach our families how to navigate decision making and communicating their needs with their providers. As doulas, we are also a resource in the community for our families!
Who needs a doula?
Every birthing person deserves to have continuous emotional and physical support during such a beautiful time. If the birthing person wants the support; they deserve to have access to care! I truly believe every family deserves a doula, no matter the birth setting. Doulas can attend home births, birth centers, hospital births and planned cesarean births. They are vital additions to your birth team!
Why should I work with a doula / What are the benefits?
Doulas help improve overall birth satisfaction! The continuous support of an experienced and compassionate doula during labor has been proven to provide the listed benefits below, but having a doula can also increase the confidence to birth in YOU! Research has proven that those who decide to hire a doula can:
- Shorten the length of labor
- Decrease the use of medical interventions during labor
- Reduce the need for cesarean surgery (C-section)
- Reduce the need for forceps or vacuum extractor
- Reduce the use of pain medication (epidurals, morphine, etc.)
- Increase overall birth satisfaction/experience
Doulas DO NOT:
- Perform medical procedures/care
- Give any medical advice or care
Can I have a medicated birth and work with a doula?
The simple answer is, YES! We give you the education and research on the medications in use during labor/birth. Doulas support your birthing choices and then we help you navigate choices through informed decision making or informed refusal.
How do I find a doula?
There are various options to outsource a doula! Insurance companies are slowly incorporating Doulas, this should be your first stop! Contact your insurance provider (private/Medicaid) to see if doula care is covered under your policy. There may be a list of doulas in network. Secondly, you can search doula directories online. You can also utilize Google, search hashtags on social media or utilize other technology to find a doula. Lastly, talk to other birthing people as they too may have some resources to help! You have a great chance of finding one doula who can point you in the direction of the other doulas wherever you search. We all work as a team to get clients paired with the doula that fits their needs!
Cost / Affordability / Investment?
The cost of doula support varies depending on the care that is needed. In most cases, doula care can be tailored to the client need’s through communication and transparency. On average the cost of doula support ranges from $650 – $2500 in Louisiana. The range in cost will vary by state.
There are also community organizations offering doula services at reduced rates for low income birthing persons, the BIPOC community, teens and birthing people on government assistance. Any doula can point you in the right direction. You may find a doula that’s not in your budget, but set a consultation with her to help you find additional resources that do fit your needs.
(House Bill 272 states that coverage may not exceed $1500, some Medicaid coverage may be less. However, as Ashaki stated, if you choose to work with a doula, be open about your situation and what you can afford.)
“Before, During and After childbirth” so … What’s a postpartum doula? What is her role?
We want to nurture our clients so that they can nurture baby! You can hire a doula to support you and your family as you adjust to new motherhood or being a mom with multiple kids. As your postpartum doula, we want to ensure that you and your family are fully supported emotionally and practically even after baby is born.
- Provide you and your family with a safe, listening, nonjudgmental experience so you can express your emotions.
- Guide you and your partner through the birthing experience/trauma.
- Ensure you are bonding with your child and healing physically.
- Light housekeeping duties.
- Help with grocery shopping, grocery pickup & meal preparation/planning.
- Help siblings get adjusted/homework assistance
What is one thing you want mothers to know about working with a doula?
The one thing I want anyone debating on hiring a doula to know is: “Don’t let your INCOME determine your OUTCOME!” – Ashaki Tobias