Frequently Asked Questions
What's a Doula?
The word "doula" comes from an Ancient Greek word that means "a female servant." A doula's sole purpose is to serve women and their support team before, during, and after their births. Doulas give pregnant women and their partners/family emotional and physical support throughout the entire pregnancy all the way to the transition into motherhood.
Doulas are not medical care providers like a midwife or doctor. They cannot perform medical tasks, but they are here to help in other ways. You may not know which doctor or midwife will be at your birth, but a doula remains constant as a source of comfort and stability during your pregnancy, birth, and post-partum. Doulas provide resources for information and services that pertain to you, so that you can take charge of your health, make your own decisions, and prepare for baby. Doulas are a listening ear for your birth plans, your excitement, and also for your fears.
Doulas are trained to help you manage pain during birth and to provide comfort to both you and your partner/family during the birth. Most important, a doula is someone who wants to empower you not only to be informed during your pregnancy, but to feel confident in your abilities during birth and motherhood.
Whom do you serve?
The Southeast Michigan Doula Project mainly serves low income women and teens in southeast Michigan who live in areas marked by low socioeconimic status and are unable to pay for doula services due to financial barriers. We frequently serve women and familes below the poverty line, women in homeless and domestic violence shelters, women who are unemployed or on medicaid and/or disability, and women with little personal and/or financial support.
Please use the below chart to determine if you meet our income eligibility guidelines. Typically, you must fall at or below this income level to qualify for our services. If you have extenuating financial circumstances and feel you cannot afford a doula, yet fall above this threshold, please email us so we can discuss your individual case.
What types of services do you provide?
Each of our doulas offers a minimum of 1 prenatal visit and 1 postpartum visit as well as attendence at your birth.
During the prenatal visit, the doula will take the time to get to know you. We encourage you to bring your partner, friend or family member(s) that will be attending your birth, so that she can get to know them as well. This is the perfect time to ask your doula questions, talk about your hopes and fears, and work on your birth plans. During this visit the doula will address any concerns you have and will be able to provide you with resources that can help you with a variety of topics, including health, nutrition, and how to prepare for the baby.
When you go into labor, your doula can help with pain coping techniques that you can try at home before going into the hospital, as well as once you get there. She will be there during the entire birth to provide comfort to you and your support team. Your doula will typically stay for around an hour after the baby is born if you would like her to, and during this time she can help you with breastfeeding if that is what you choose to do.
During the postpartum visit, your doula will answer any questions you have about your recovery, newborn care, breastfeeding or anything else that you would like to discuss. During this visit she can also talk to you about resources that are available to you for your specific needs.
My partner, friends or family will be at the birth - why would I need a doula?
The people supporting you during your birth should be individuals that make you feel strong, confident and empowered. A doula is another person that will be one of those extremely supportive people for you. If your partner wants to be more involved in helping you cope with the pain, the doula can be there to show them different techniques to help you. A doula knows when to be involved and when to step back and give you space. Since a doula is trained to help you during birth, she knows different positions that can help labor progress or simply to help you be more comfortable. She is also able to explain medical terms and works as a team with the nurses, midwives and doctors to make sure that you have the best birth experience possible. A doula never wants to take away the help and support that your partner, friends or family members want to give you, but instead she is there to help make this exciting time more pleasant and comfortable for everyone.
Can a doula deliver my baby?
A doula cannot provide medical care at all, so a doula definitely does not deliver babies. Your medical care provider will perform all medical tasks for you such as provide cervical checks, monitor you and the baby and deliver the baby. A doula is there only for emotional support and to provide comfort measures to help you cope with pain. Her main goal is to empower you and help in making your birth experience as enjoyable as possible.
What other benefits are there to having a doula?
Numerous clinical studies have found that a doula’s presence at birth
tends to result in shorter labors with fewer complications
reduces negative feelings about one’s childbirth experience
reduces the need for pitocin (a labor-inducing drug), forceps or vacuum extraction, and cesareans
reduces the mother’s request for pain medication and/or epidurals
Research shows parents who receive support can:
Feel more secure and cared for
Are more successful in adapting to new family dynamics
Have greater success with breastfeeding
Have greater self-confidence
Have less postpartum depression
Have lower incidence of abuse
(Source: "DONA International – Why Use a Doula?", 2005, www.dona.org)
Can I still have a doula if I plan on getting an epidural or am having a scheduled c-section?
Absolutely! A doula is very beneficial for everyone, no matter what type of birth experience they plan for themselves. Even if you plan to have pain medication or have a scheduled c-section, doulas are there to support and comfort you. Doulas are NOT just for people who want to have an unmedicated birth, and they have many benefits for everyone no matter what their birth outcome. Our goal as doulas is to make sure that you have the best experience possible.
I want a doula! What is the next step?
Fantastic! Please go to our "Request a Doula" page and fill out the form with your information, or give us a call at (734) 531-8695. You will be matched with a wonderful doula to schedule your prenatal appointment as soon as possible.