Frequently Asked Questions

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Ok, I've read about what a postpartum doula is and understand that each doula has their own guidelines. What exactly are you willing to do? 

In general, I offer: 
  • Light laundry -- this means two loads per visit
  • Meal preparation (regular, vegetarian, or vegan) -- either with ingredients you already have, or you can give me the money and the list and I can go grocery shopping for you.
  • Run errands related to family needs
  • Sibling/older child care 
  • Light household cleaning -- surface cleaning and vacuuming, not major scrubbing 
  • Patience and understanding, nonjudgmental support
  • Breastfeeding counseling and support
  • Instruction on infant care
  • Accompaniment to doctor appointments 
  • Help setting up diaper and feeding stations 
  • Pet introduction 
  • Help with infant bonding, attachment, and soothing techniques
  • Help processing the mother's birth story
  • Referrals to pediatricians, lactation consultants, support groups, counselors, and more! (If necessary)
  • Screening for postpartum depression -- I do this for all of my clients!
I am willing to do more, however these services can and do change according to the client. My first question for my clients is what they will need help with the most. If it is not on this list, or goes past my usual guidelines, I am flexible. If an initial consultation reveals that all parents will need is sibling care, I will refer them to a nanny. If an initial consultation reveals that all parents truly desire is someone to pick up around the house, I will refer them to a housekeeping service. I am certainly willing to do these things, but I think your money is better spent on one of these services rather than my own. :)

Is there anything you don't allow?

Some doulas are uncomfortable with pets or other animals, but I am not one of those. If your pet is particularly possessive of you and doesn't like strangers, I'll kindly ask you to put them in a designated room or outside while I am visiting. I am, however, uncomfortable with smoking around infants. This is less of a personal preference, and more of a safety concern. Maternal smoking and secondhand smoking has long been linked with increased SIDS risk. The risk for SIDS is increased, in normal birth weight infants, about two-fold with passive smoke exposure and about three-fold when the mother smokes both during the pregnancy and the baby continues to be exposed to tobacco smoke after he/she is born. [1] 
Additionally, according to the Mayo Clinic, secondhand smoke has a marked effect on the health of infants and children because they're still developing physically and generally have higher breathing rates, which means they may inhale greater quantities of secondhand smoke than adults do.

For children who live in households where someone smokes, the effects are worst during the child's first five years, since the child may spend the bulk of that time with a smoking parent or guardian. Ironically, infants are at the highest risk of secondhand smoke from their own mothers. A child who spends just one hour in a very smoky room is inhaling as many dangerous chemicals as if he or she smoked 10 or more cigarettes. And even when parents don't smoke at home or in the car, there can still be negative effects when children are exposed to the tobacco smoke pollution released from the clothing and hair of smoking parents.
While I am there and while you are around your infant, it is best for all involved for you to smoke outside. However, you can see that even the smoke on your clothes and in your hair can harm your infant. Please try limiting your smoking to less than 10 cigarettes per day, making sure you wash your hands and change your clothes before you hold your infant.

How much time will you spend with our family?

In general, the span can be anywhere from one or two visits to over three months. There are a number of factors that come into play when determining the duration of support.
Overall, my goal is to work myself out of a job. That may sound strange, but parents and infants would not benefit from me staying around forever! I want to empower parents to feel confident in making their own decisions with the best information possible -- not make them dependent on me. Assignments longer than six weeks are generally when the mother has little to no support, multiples, or other kinds of issues, and this is arranged ahead of time. Visits can range anywhere from 3-24 hours, and this sometimes includes overnights so parents can get some rest! I do have a minimum of three hours for each visit, since I will have to travel to your home.

How much do you charge?

Currently I am charging $15 an hour, for a minimum of three hours per visit. I charge $10 an hour for overnights, but be aware that I will be sleeping when your baby sleeps, not staying awake the entire time. I'm new to the profession and since I'm not fully certified yet or have as much experience, my rate is low. When I do become certified and/or get more clients under my belt, my rates will go up to $20-25 an hour, to reflect the average price of a doula in this area. I am willing to work on a sliding scale also -- please contact me for more information.
Does insurance cover doula fees?
Rarely, but sometimes! It all depends on individual insurance carriers, so check with your own about reimbursement for doula fees. Even if they don't, good infant care and information helps you know what is normal for a newborn, so you are less likely to go to the doctor for erroneous reasons, saving you money.

Do you ever cancel on your clients?
I haven't yet, no. If I did, or had to end my employment with a family for any reason, I would set them up with a fellow doula before leaving. It would have to be something pretty serious for me to cancel, especially since I sign a contract with all my clients for services and fees needed. If any of my clients overlapped due to scheduling issues, I would get the first client help from a new doula to end out their service, since they are less likely to need as intense postpartum care as the newer parents.
My partner and I want to practice some elements of childrearing that some people find "weird" or questionable. Can we still be your clients?
Since my focus is to empower you as parents, I would generally say yes, I will absolutely be your doula. However, it's hard to use absolutes when I'm not exactly sure what you are intending! I would need to meet with you, discuss your wishes, and give you information so you could make the right decisions. 

If, for example, you wanted to set up your baby's crib with lots of fluffy pillows and stuffed animals, and lay your baby on their stomach while they sleep; all things that have been shown to increase the incidence of SIDS, I would be obligated to give you evidence-based information proving such. Would I be comfortable encouraging this practice? I can't say I would. 
However, I doubt many parents would read this information and not take at least some of it to heart. If parents would be willing to remove fluffy pillows and stuffed animals from the crib, but still wished to lay their baby on their stomach, I would praise their choices. But I would still offer the parents more information on the dangers involved with newborn stomach sleeping.
This may seem like a difficult situation or a hard boundary to define, and it is. But this also is an example of positive reinforcement. Are parents going to be receptive to information if I am constantly chastising them and implying that they are horrible parents? No. If I praise what they are doing right as parents, and suggest that they research to do even MORE right for their child, this is much more appealing. It also puts the decision in the parents' hands, and gives them a sense of empowerment and confidence over their parenting skills.