Demystifying the Doula with Megan Howarth
So what is it exactly that doulas do????
So many people ask the same question, including myself. I was tempted to delve into it during my pregnancies and when I was developing montrealmom.com, but somehow, it was one of those items on the “To Do” List that I never seemed to get to.
That recently changed as I had the opportunity to sit down with Montreal doula Megan Howarth to get answers to some FAQ’s about doulas.
If you’d like additional information, you can ask her in person as she is offering an information session at Melons & Clementines this Saturday, October 15 from 2-3:30 PM. Full details are available on the montrealmom.com calendar.
(Please note that I have edited some of the questions & responses to make for an easier read, while maintaining the integrity of Megan’s responses)
Q: What exactly does a doula do?
A: A doula is a support person who is there to provide Mom with support, information & encouragement, during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. A doula can offer a different type of support and be more objective than Dad because she is less emotionally involved.
Q: What is the difference between a midwife & a doula?
A: A doula is not a medical person or a caregiver but a person with a good knowledge of the physiological aspects of childbirth as well as the birth process who is there to work in conjunction with the primary caregiver to support Mom’s needs or wishes
Q: At what point would someone engage the services of a doula?
A: Different people do different things but most commonly later in the second trimester
Q: Are doulas there to support the dads as well?
A: Actually, a lot of focus is placed on the couple as a whole and how the dad can best be prepared to support Mom. Also, during the birth a lot of support is provided to Dad as well, so he feels confident and encouraged. And yes, most dads are so happy to have had me there, I get big, teary-eyed hugs quite often!
Q: How often do you meet with moms prior to, and after the birth?
A: Again, this can vary, but generally speaking between 2-3 prenatal visits and 1 post-natal visit. This can also vary depending if this is a first time mom or not.
Q: What kind of prenatal support is offered by a doula?
A: Answering questions, dispelling myths, offering reassurance and encouragement. Doulas offer real information in order to alleviate mom’s stress about the birthing process. If moms are concerned about something specific, a doula can recommend books to read on the topic. I keep a library of books I am familiar with and sometimes lend them out to my clients. Oftentimes, doulas help to counterbalance dad’s protective tendencies when numbers are presented by medical professionals. Dads can get nervous when numbers are presented and forget that “worse-case scenario” doesn’t mean “most likely scenario”. A doula can be there to remind Dad of what the numbers really mean which provides a great deal of support to mom in the situation. There tends to be a lot of pressure surrounding due dates. A doula reminds us that there is a range of what’s normal and that mom’s body is not connected to the calendar, ready to ‘perform’ on such & such a date at such & such a time.
Q: What kind of postpartum support does a doula provide?
A: Just checking in with mom after the experience is a form of support. Mom may have questions about what happened or just want to talk about the whole process. A doula is there to listen and answer whatever questions she can. A doula also prepares mom for what to expect postpartum- from breastfeeding to sleep patterns to the advantage of having some meals cooked in advance to lessen the load when baby gets here. There are actually postpartum doulas who specialize in helping Mom during the postpartum period
Q: There tends to be a perception of doulas as being for those who wish to give birth at home or in a birthing center, with a midwife, is this accurate?
A: While I’d say that doulas definitely have leanings towards natural births at home, we are there to support moms in their decisions. I work mainly in hospitals because that tends to be where moms give birth. That said, doulas have knowledge of risks & benefits so that when a situation arises in the hospital (e.g. labour not progressing), they can help the couple ask the right questions for their particular situation, thus helping to find out more about what is happening, why and what else can be done.
Q: How much does a doula charge?
A: It varies based on experience. In Montreal you can find doulas who charge as little as $300 up to $1200 for the most experienced doulas in the city. I fall somewhere in between at about $500-$600. This fee covers all of the visits and services provided by the doula.
Q: How does someone pick a doula?
A: You can do an online search and meet her for an interview. Moms can generally figure out at the interview stage if they will make a good fit. In the interview, mom should make sure to discuss her thoughts and expectations about having a doula on board.
I hope that these Q&A will be of some help to you in demystifying the doula. If you have more questions, you can check out Megan’s website at www.meganthedoula.com or call her directly at 514-966-1657
Are you thinking of engaging the services of a doula? Have yo already done so? Please share your experiences with our readers!
Wishing you a wonderful day,