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What is a Doula?
The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during, and after birth. Birth Doulas attend to mothers during labor and delivery, and Postpartum Doulas attend to mothers any time during the postpartum period. Learn more about The Postpartum Doula’s Role in Maternity Care (a position paper from DONA International).
How to find a Doula:
Green River Doula Network: a group of local birth and post-partum doulas, midwives and related care providers serving the Hilltowns, the Pioneer Valley, and neighboring region.
DONA International: an international, non-profit organization of doulas that strives to have every doula trained and educated to provide the highest quality and standards for birth and/or postpartum support to birthing women and their families.
But can I afford a Doula?
Interested in hiring a doula to help you at your birth or after the birth, but money is tight and it seems out of reach? Here are some ideas for how to access doula care:
Start a “Doula Fund.”
People love to help new families prepare for their new babies. Often this takes the form of buying clothes or baby items. When friends and family ask “What can we get for the new baby?” let them know that you would love it if they would contribute to your “Doula Fund.” If you are having a baby shower or welcoming party to celebrate your baby’s birth let people know about your “Doula Fund” on the invitation.
Through clothing swaps, hand-me-downs and services like the Village Closet, many families can prepare for their baby’s arrival without spending money at all. Start asking around to see what gear other parents feel is essential and make a list of what you think you’ll really need. Check out the Village Closet or attend a clothing swap.
Some doulas are willing to barter for their services. What do you have to offer in exchange for doula services? Be creative here! The possibilities are endless. Here are just a few ideas to get your brain flowing: garden/farm produce, firewood, yarn, legal services, computer help, editing, marketing consultation, childcare, photography, massage, house cleaning, crafts… The list could go on and on. What are all the skills, services, products that you or your partner could offer? When you are interviewing doulas ask them if they would be willing to barter for their services, in part or in whole.
Create a payment plan.
If the doula you want to hire charges $700 for birth services and it feels impossible to gather that much at one time, talk to her about the possibility of making monthly payments over a period of time.
Hire a doula-in-training.
Doulas learn their skills though direct practice. Newly trained doulas are looking for families to work with to gain experience and start their practice. Often times they are willing to provide services for much less than experienced or certified doulas. To find a doula-in-training contact the Green River Doula Network or DONA International. You could also contact local doula trainer, Michelle L’Esperance at email@example.com