Pregnant woman enjoying a back massage from her midwife
From first kicks to first steps, a doula can be an invaluable resource for families making their journey through pregnancy, labor and eventually parenthood. Adding a doula to your birth team means having a professionally trained person nearby to provide physical, emotional and informational support before, during and after birth.
Doulas, besides being a presence of compassion and non-judgment, have a whole toolbox of techniques and resources that facilitate pregnancy and labor using massage, positioning, meditation and mindfulness, and other comfort and pain management measures. They are also a great resource for providing recommendations on hospitals, providers and other specialists.
Additionally, postpartum doulas are knowledgeable in newborn care, postpartum mood disorders, and aid in the transition to parenthood and going back to work.
Chicago mom Gloria Ortiz was glad she sought the help of Chicago Doula for the birth of her second baby, saying that having her doula present during her VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) was such a positive experience. “Her knowledge and wisdom provided me with such security, support, guidance and inspiration. She suggested position changes and exercises to help baby get into an optimal position, to help relax, and also kept me focused, strong and energized,” Ortiz said.
Claire Zawa, Care Manager at Birthways, says that doulas fill in the gaps in your support system and help with the day-to-day tasks so you can spend more time with your baby. “Doulas are a part of the village we all need throughout the many transitions in parenthood,” Zawa said.
How do you know if a doula is the choice for you?
You may be wondering why you’d need a doula if your partner, a relative or a friend are already supporting you during this wonderful journey.
Cassie Calderone, of Love, your Doula, says that “There’s a misconception that doulas are for certain mothers, particularly those who want to have a natural birth. But … doulas complement the health care team for any birthing person and their family as they go through one of the biggest transitions of life.”
Finding the right doula
It’s important to note that doulas are not only there for labor support. Throughout Chicagoland you can find numerous agencies and private doulas that specialize in different areas. These professionals may cater to the many needs of families, including those who have experienced perinatal loss and bereavement, those who are seeking assistance during the postpartum period, those who are going through adoption or surrogacy, those who are having multiples, or those in need of a sibling doula to care for older children during a birth.
Most doulas offer free consultations over the phone or in person to explain their role and services. This is a great way to find out if a doula may be the right for you. A resource to find doulas throughout Chicagoland is DoulaMatch.
Private, agency or community-based?
There are many community-based organizations — Chicago Volunteer Doulas, Christopher House, Pilsen Wellness Center — that work closely with hospitals to help low-income mothers and families, including teenagers and minorities, to provide doula services for free or at a low cost.
Benefits of working with an agency is having an entire team in which “each … team member brings their own expertise, knowledge and resources to the table,” says Margarita Valbuena, co-founder of Third Coast Birth.
One of the benefits of hiring a private doula is that she has control over her schedule. “For the family needing help, this means a faster response,” Calderone says.
Additional services provided
Services can include childbirth classes, breastfeeding support groups, sobadas, herbal baths, prenatal massage, Blessingway ceremonies, placenta encapsulation and belly binding.
The average cost in Chicago and its surrounding suburbs ranges from $600-$2000, with postpartum support ranging from $15-$50 per hour.
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This article was originally published on July 11, 2018. It has been updated with the most recent information.