Frequently Asked Questions About Doulas

What are the benefits of having a doula?

There are enormous benefits to having a doula such as lower cesarean rates, a higher breastfeeding success rate and an overall reporting of positive feelings about birth experiences by mothers. Read recent research about continuous support in childbirth.

“Our doula provided objectivity and questioning to help me assert myself which was needed in hospital.  She supported my choices yet offered other viewpoints and provided good contacts which showed a good understanding of her own skills and how to provide extra help when needed.”
Caroline

What’s the difference between a doula and a midwife?

A doula is not medically trained and provides no clinical care. She is there to provide practical, emotional and informational support. A doula is employed by you, not the hospital.

What’s the difference between a doula and a maternity nurse?

A maternity nurse is there to care for the baby while a postnatal doula supports the mother – and the whole family – so they can enjoy parenting their new arrival.

What training & qualifications does a doula have?

While there is no formal, legal requirement for a doula to be qualified there is a national association of doulas who require that all its members undergo an initial preparation course. New doulas have to be mentored by an experienced doula in the early stages of their career and while remaining a member of Doula UK they are required to prove that they are continually learning and developing by attending workshops and training courses in areas related to their work. All the doulas on this website are members of Doula UK and so adhere to a professional code of conduct.

What about Dads? Doesn’t a doula replace my partner?

Most couples find the involvement of a doula to be tremendously reassuring and beneficial for partners as well as for the mother. Amongst the other benefits a doula will bring, fathers often appreciate the presence of an ‘extra’ pair of hands during labour - you can read more about Dads and doulas here

“Our doula helped us work out our birth preferences.  I felt she instilled a confidence in us both about the day of childbirth that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.” Jo and Adam

Do doulas only support natural birth?

Doulas will support you with any kind of birth. They are there to support you in your choices, whatever those choices are. A doula has no agenda, other than to help facilitate your wishes as far as possible.

A doula seems expensive - what if I can’t afford the fees?

Don't dismiss the idea of a doula because they seem expensive - many will offer a sliding scale of prices or may even offer an exchange of services. Some clients discover that the doula support they get helps them to realise they don’t need as much expensive baby paraphanalia as they expected.

Also bear in mind:

  • The Doula UK Access Fund exists to help with expenses where a doula’s client is on state benefits and has in an income less then £16,000.
  • A doula as a gift.  Vouchers are available from Doula UK if relatives want to buy a gift for you. A doula may be a fabulous alternative to a snazzy cot or pushchair which you don’t need yet.

Will a doula tell me what to do?

A doula will support you to make informed decisions. She is a guide and will signpost you to good information and support you in your discussions with medical professionals.

Can a doula help me with breastfeeding?

Many doulas can help with breastfeeding but not all are qualified breastfeeding counsellors. Your doula will be able to help you get the most appropriate support and help you reach your breastfeeding goals. Read a who's who of breastfeeding support here.

What if I go into labour unexpectedly before my due date?

Your doula will be 'on-call' from around 38 weeks (unless you have a history of pre-term birth or are expecting twins or more) but if you do go into labour before this she will do her best to be with you. If this is a concern for you make sure you discuss it fully with your doula.

Do doulas have insurance?

Some doulas do have insurance - talk to your doula about what cover she may have in place.

photo of couple and their new baby