Mary Gillett, CD(DONA)

Certified Birth Doula

Frequently Asked Questions

"Why do people typically hire a birth doula?"

There are as many individual reasons as there are families.  For some, they are looking for special support for a challenging birth situation such as a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section), or because their planned birth partner cannot be present (such as a father who is serving in the military).  Others have emotionally supportive husband, partner, or family present, but they want the additional coaching and support that an experienced birth partner can provide. Doula can often allow the partner a break during long labors and more importantly, a doula lets the husband be the husband.  In the case of a water birth, an extra set of hands are needed to set up and care for the tub.  There are many excellent reasons to hire a doula including higher satisfaction with the birth experience, and reduced interventions such as epidural and C-section.

"What is your personal goal as a doula serving a family?"

Essentially, I have one goal - When you look back at your son or daughter's birthday, I want your memory of the birth to be a joyous and empowering experience.

"I want this birth to be a special experience with my partner.  Won't a doula make him feel out of place?"

Not at all!  Actually, research shows that the level of satisfaction of both the mother and her partner increases when a doula is present.  It allows your husband or partner to fill an emotional support role, without the pressure to "be everything" to the mother in this unique experience.  The doula can also provide helpful coaching to keep both the partner and birthing mother as comfortable as possible.  Once labor begins to progress, most couples find that the physical and emotional support is a two-person job.  Your doula can be very "hands-on" or may take a role of helping the partner recognize stages of labor and suggesting various activities or interventions for him to try.

"Wouldn't my nurse fill this role?"

Nurses and midwives in the medical setting are generally looking after several patients.  Their care is exceedingly knowledgeable and valuable, but they often cannot remain at your side continuously to coach you throughout the whole experience. 

"I don't plan to have a completely unmedicated birth.  Would I still want a doula?"

Yes - no matter what course your labor takes, you will still want the experienced support that a labor coach or doula can provide.  The process for each childbirth is unique.  Regardless of your plans, a doula can help you navigate the experience, as well as handle unexpected developments.  The decision to use pain medication is unique and personal to each mother and each childbirth experience.  This decision however, should be made from a position of empowerment and knowledge, not fear or apprehension.

"What service can I expect when I hire a doula?"

The standard fee generally includes two or three prenatal visits (one of these may be the initial interview, if we have an opportunity to share more lengthy discussion,) continuous labor support in your home and at the hospital, accompanying you for 1 1/2 hours after the birth, and one post-partum visit (if desired.) 

"When should I interview and hire a birth doula?"

Most people begin interviewing potential doulas as they enter their third trimester, but you may want to do so earlier to be sure that the person of your choosing is available around your due date.  Some people wait until the last minute.  This isn't ideal - but it may be possible!  You should ask, and if I cannot serve you I can put you in touch with others who might be available.

"Is there an advantage to laboring at home?"

Many people prefer to spend their early hours of labor at home where they can sleep, shower, eat, and spend time with family or friends.  Some women progress better in the comfort of their home, while some perceive the hospital as being a safe environment where they can relax.  I am willing to meet you at your home and spend time with you there, then follow you to the hospital.  Or you may desire to spend these early hours alone with your partner or other children, and just meet me when it is time to head to the hospital.

Take your travel time into consideration, as well as how you may feel making the drive when you are farther along in labor.  If you plan to labor or birth in the tub, you will need to take this into consideration as setting up the tub takes time and you want to take advantage of this wonder labor support.   Always follow the recommendations of your doctor or midwife regarding how long to labor at home, and when to head to the hospital.  I do not make the determination of when it is appropriate to head to the hospital, nor do I transport or ride with families.  I will follow in my own vehicle.

"Do you have a back-up doula, in case you are not available when the big day arrives?"

Although I have found that this is generally not a problem, this is an important question.  When we meet we will discuss a back-up plan with another doula who will serve you if I should be unavailable.  I do not accept due dates that are too close together, simply to avoid that situation.  I work a full-time "day job" that has a lot of flexibility. Be assured that I will do everything I can to serve you in the same professional and reliable way I would want to be served.  I am currently working out a collaborative relationship with other doulas that will allow us to partner with one another to provide back up with a consistent philosophy and style.

"What about childbirth classes?"

All of my clients should plan on taking a prepared childbirth class, outside of our meetings.  Feel free to ask me for referrals to area classes.

"What is a postpartum doula and where do I find one?"

 A postpartum doula would come to your home and assist with tasks such as instruction and help with baby care, support in establishing nursing, running errands, caring for older children, light housekeeping and meal preparation - in short "mothering the mother" so that you can establish your relationship with your new infant as you recover from birth!  You should expect to pay an hourly rate that varies with the provider.  You may contact me for referrals, or check on-line at www.dona.org, www.cappa.net, or www.padanc.org.

"I am planning to birth at home.  Can a doula assist me instead of a Certified Professional Midwife or Certified Nurse Midwife?"

No - absolutely not!  No way!  Nada!  Have I made myself clear?  Doulas are NOT medical care providers.  We have recently learned that some trained but uncertified doulas have presented themselves as care providers who will assist in delivering clients' babies.  This is not only unethical, it is dangerous and illegal.  I fully support homebirth and the practice of midwifery (including both Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives) but I will absolutely not attend a birth where there is not a midwife or doctor present.  Doulas do not have medical or emergency training.  Birth is normal and natural, but most times the journey requires the skill of a medical provider's competent advice, and occasionally their intervention.  You need someone with the proper training to lead you through to a healthy outcome.

After saying all that.... I would be very pleased to support a home birth in which a competent birth professional is present.