What is a doula?
Doula is a Greek word that is interpreted in modern times as a woman who is specially trained to "mother the new mother". Dana Rafael, an author and anthropologist, studied breastfeeding in cultures throughout the world and introduced the term doula in our country about 30 years ago in her book, The Tender Gift. Dr. Raphael defines this mother's mother, the doula, as anyone who can, by being supportive and helpful, free the new mother as much as possible to make caring for her newborn her sole responsibility. "Mothering the mother" is also Dr. Raphael's prescription for successful, healthy breastfeeding. Doulas are also known for their labor support skills. Mother & baby Matters provides both birth and postpartum doulas.
What type of training do doulas receive?
There are no regulations, state or federal, regarding the practice of doulas. Therefore, no licensing is required and training varies. National organizations for doulas have developed over the last decade and provide guidelines and certifications for practice. The Doulas of North America (DONA) provides their membership with opportunities for training, and certification as birth doulas. The Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA) provides their membership with certification and training for childbirth educators, labor doulas, postpartum doulas and lactation educators. Mother & baby Matters doulas meet and exceed the above noted requirements for training and certification.
Why have a Birth Doula?
Having a birth doula by your side can enhance the birthing experience for you and your partner through special comfort measures, relaxation techniques, guided imagery and involvement of your partner as the primary labor coach or to whatever extent desired.
A birth doula can help you set up and attain certain goals you would like to achieve in your birth experience whether you are planning a non-medicated or medicated labor experience. For example, your doula may help you avoid an episiotomy by applying warm compresses and stretching the vaginal wall.
The birth doula acts as a liaison between you and the hospital staff, interpreting information that helps in decision making.
A birth doula can alleviate the apprehension of the first-time experience and allow for a more enjoyable birth.
Experienced parents may choose to have a doula to achieve new goals and improved comfort based on a past experience.
Women desiring a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) may choose to have a doula to provide the guidance and support necessary in achieving a successful vaginal birth.
Who uses Postpartum Services?
Any mother, first time or experienced, can benefit from postpartum doula care. The new mother may welcome advice and assistance through the recovery period. The doula offers guidance and encouragement to the new mother until she is confident in her own mothering skills and feels physically recovered. The flexibility of scheduling allows for increased focus on supportive help after a cesarean section birth or for mothers with other children at home. New mothers of multiples benefit not only from the extra pair of hands most needed but also from the tips and expertise the doulas have acquired from caring for multiples over the years. Some doulas actually specialize in the care of multiples and assist with organization and feeding patterns.
What is the difference between a Doula and a Family Care Assistant (FCA)?
The major difference is that the doula is trained to provide counseling and guidance, assess the needs of the new mother, and meet her needs in an independent manner. While an FCA may from experience be able to answer questions and provide guidance, she is not trained and credentialed according to national standards to provide guidance or teach a new mother.
What is the difference between a Baby Nurse and a Doula?
The concept of the Baby Nurse, which dates back at least two generations, is to focus strictly on the baby's needs. Baby nurses are typically caretakers and generally do not provide guidance. The philosophy of the doula is to mother the mother, therefore the focus being on the needs of the mother - be it to help with the baby, household, or provide guidance as needed. The doula's goals are more focused on supporting the mother in her goals and meeting her needs until she is feeling comfortable on her own. Note: The term baby nurse, although implied, does not mean the individual is trained or credentialed as a professional registered nurse (RN).
Which plan of care is best for me?
Mother & baby Matters offers several packages to choose from and sets up a plan of care that's best for you. The office can assist you in determining the level of service that would best meet your individual needs, depending on what other support systems you already have in place.
Who uses overnight services?
Anyone who has problems with sleep deprivation, or has a history of or is experiencing depression can benefit from overnight services. Overnight services are widely used especially in the case of a multiple birth. Almost all parents of multiples, even those who have family help, usually need some type of overnight assistance from outside sources. Extended care should be anticipated and arranged in advance as early as possible to assure coverage. As you recover, you can begin to wean the overnight coverage and use fewer nights per week. Some of our overnight staff specialize in caring for twins and have developed an expertise in helping to establish feeding and sleeping patterns. First time mothers can relax and enjoy the comfort and reassurance those first couple of nights home after delivery by utilizing our overnight doula services. The use of overnight services during the hospital stay especially following cesarean sections are becoming increasingly popular.
How can overnight assistance help me if I'm planning to breastfeed and will be awake anyway?
Again, depending on certain factors, i.e., level of anxiousness, maternal age or concern for sleep, an overnight doula may be beneficial. The doula can assist you and make you more comfortable with initial breastfeeding needs. By helping you relax, you can get through a breastfeeding session more smoothly and go back to sleep allowing the doula to burp and console your newborn between feedings.
Can I change my package once I have a contract?
You can always add hours. We cannot guarantee your primary doula will be able to assist you for the duration of these extended hours. We prefer that you start with a lower package and add hours rather than reduce hours. The doula staff arrange their schedules according to contracted hours.
How long can I use services?
A time limit of six months from time of the baby's discharge from the hospital is in accordance with our insurance coverage plan. In the case of premature birth, or infants with special need, care can oftentimes extend past the six month timeframe. Typically, clients have completed services by about four months postpartum.
Can I meet the doula or TLC ahead of time?
Yes. When you register, a staff person will contact you to arrange an acquaintance visit. You are welcome to meet more than one person if you wish and if time and staffing allows.
When should I register?
Registration for a birth doula is encouraged by the fifth month of pregnancy. Registration for a postpartum doula is highly recommended prior to birth to ensure placement of a doula. Registrations after birth are filled on a staff available basis and may require more than one staff person to meet your request.
How do you schedule when a delivery date is uncertain?
We consider two weeks before and after your due date when making assignments. If you are designated as high-risk for premature labor, we will consider at least three weeks prior to your due date.
Why should I choose Mother & baby Matters over any other provider of doula and family care services?
Mother & baby Matters is an established and premier perinatal care service for the Washington D.C. metro area since 1991. We have a comparatively large and stable staff who specialize in the field, with many coming to us from professional backgrounds. Our doulas are reliable, mature, educated women who practice under the auspices and quality control of a company headed by someone with extensive experience and training in the field of maternal-infant and women's health. Mother & baby Matters was the first doula business in the area and has remained in business while others have come and gone. Since we have a fairly large staff of doulas, there is a stronger likelihood that when you need the help, it will be there. Flexible scheduling allows for part or full-time staffing; ensuring coverage tailored to the client's individual needs. It happens at times that back-up is needed which we can facilitate much better than smaller or single person operations. Mother & baby Matters also provides continuing educational opportunities for those working for the company, keeping staff abreast of the latest practices in maternal-infant care based on standards set by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Staff participate in our professional development ladder (PDL), giving them the opportunity to graduate from Novice Level Doula to Experienced Level Doula. Careful screening and criminal background checks are performed prior to hiring staff. Additionally, all of our staff are bonded, insured and CPR certified. We also require annual TB checks. Mother & baby Matters ensures staff are credentialed and trained. Our scope of services is specialized and limited to the perinatal period (time period surrounding childbirth), allowing our staff the ability to develop expertise in this area that can greatly benefit the client.