What is a doula and what do doulas do?

Having a baby is one of the biggest moments in the life of a parent. Doulas help make sure that you have access to trusted information. They also help you understand your options to support pregnancy. A doula has a lot of knowledge and training related to birthing. Any parent who is having a baby can use a doula.

A doula has a close relationship with a parent. They also have connections within the community. They can guide a parent to services, health providers and support groups. This may help a parent and baby have better physical and mental health before, during and after birth.  

Benefits of a doula

Some doulas are trained in areas of fertility, birth, after birth and grief. They are specially trained or have lived experience that translates to the care they offer.

During labor, a doula might help you with breathing, give you massages and provide other support. They usually stay with a parent and baby until a couple of hours after birth. You and your doula will likely create a birth plan before your baby is born, so you’ll have a general idea of what to expect.

How is a doula different from a midwife?

A doula is different from a midwife because a midwife gives you medical care to deliver your baby. A doula prepares you for birth. A doula does not offer medical care. They do give emotional, mental and cultural support during labor and delivery. They can also help you breastfeed your baby.

You may have both a doula and a midwife for your pregnancy.

Standards for doula care

Doulas must follow rules set by a group that certifies them. Not all states mandate standards for doulas to be included on a doula registry. Some states require that a doula must be 18 years old, have CPR training, pass a criminal background check and more. 

It is a good idea to interview a doula before you begin working with one. You can check to see if they are a good fit for your personality and situation. There are in-person and virtual care doula options, as well as postpartum-only doula services.

Working with a doula and medical staff

Doulas can help calm your worries, give you important information and help you talk with your doctor. They can also explain medical terms in plain language and help make sure you are being heard and respected. Doulas may help reduce risks and improve birth outcomes, such as lower C-section rates and improved breastfeeding rates. If you are a UnitedHealthcare member, sign in to your account or call the number on your plan ID card to see if your plan covers doula services.  

A doula can connect you to support groups, infant supplies, pelvic floor or massage services, nursing help and much more. They also help you get a strong start to being a parent. They can stay with you through the whole pregnancy and birth process and talk to your doctors and nurses about your needs. They also support any birth partner you have through labor and delivery.

Are doulas covered by insurance?

Insurance coverage for doulas is growing across the country. Check your health plan benefits to see if they cover doula services. If you’re a UnitedHealthcare member, sign in to your account or call the number on your plan ID card.

Where and how to find a doula

If you think a doula would be helpful to you for the birth of your baby, there are several ways you can find one. You may want to start by asking your doctor or clinic staff who they suggest. There are also many groups that maintain registries of certified doulas in your area.