How Doulas Work

Choosing a Doula

Finding a reputable doula is easy enough if you know where to look. Organizations like DONA International, CAPPA and American Pregnancy Association can provide lists of doulas local to you, or you can always get a personal reference from a friend.

When you've narrowed your potential doula list down, it's time to do some interviews. Be sure to inquire about their training, services, availability around your due date, childbirth philosophy and how they'd handle it if for some reason they're not available to be at the birth. Don't forget to ask for references — and check them.

Fees are another major concern for many parents-to-be. Childbirth expenses, even with insurance, can be daunting. If you live in a major metropolitan area, like Los Angeles or New York, you can expect to pay more for a doula than someone in a less expensive locale [source: Port].

Certain insurance plans have added some doula coverage, so make that your first inquiry. How much will they cover, and which services? If your insurance offers zero or limited coverage, consider sending in a letter spelling out the many ways that doulas reduce costs for patient and insurer (fewer tests, medications and other interventions), actually saving insurance companies money in the short and long-term. It won't hurt anything to submit a claim, and you might be surprised by the end result!

If you want to encourage insurance policy reform, consider working with groups like Lamaze International and the National Partnership for Women and Families and Choices in Childbirth to encourage enlightened conversation and spark change.

In the meantime, if your insurance offers little or no coverage and you can't foot the bill out of pocket, there are other options. Some doulas offer discounted services to parents with limited financial resources [source: Childbirth Connection]. Also, doulas-in-training typically work for free to get experience, plus some volunteer doula organizations provide pro bono help, as well.

Author's Note: How Doulas Work

I've given birth to three strapping baby boys, and I can certainly see how having a doula involved could have made the experiences easier. I particularly think the postpartum period would have been less stressful with such a person "on staff," so to speak. Dealing with breastfeeding, physical recovery, hormone shifts and the myriad other post-birth phenomena is challenging, to say the least. A new mom can use all the help she can get!

Related Articles

More Great Links


  • All Nursing Schools. "Differences Between a Doula and a Midwife." 2017 (Oct. 13, 2017)
  • American Pregnancy Association. "Having a Doula: Is a Doula for Me?" 2017 (Oct. 22, 2017)
  • Bennett, Jenny. Email Interview, Sept. 25, 2017.
  • Bennett, Jenny. Email Interview, Sept. 25, 2017. Director of childbirth education for DTI // credentials: CD (DTI), HCHI (Hypnobabies) -- CD is certified birth & postpartum doula and HCHI is Hypnobabies childbirth hypnosis instructor
  • Childbirth Connection. "What if I want to work with a doula and cost is an issue?" 2017 (Oct. 11, 2017)
  • Childbirth Professionals International "Questions About Becoming a Doula." 2017 (Oct. 13, 2017)
  • Dekker, Rebecca. "Evidence on: Doulas." Aug. 14, 2017 (Oct. 12, 2017)
  • INELDA. "Make a Difference." 2017 (Oct. 10, 2017)
  • International Childbirth Education Association. "The Role and Scope of Birth Doula Practice." Oct. 2015 (Oct. 11, 2017)
  • Hodnett ED1, Gates S, Hofmeyr GJ, Sakala C. "Continous Support for Women During Childbirth." Cochrane Database System Review. July 15, 2013 (Oct. 11, 2017)
  • James, Kim. "Certification Still Matters: DONA Certified Doulas Earn Higher Fees & Attract More Clients." DONA International. July 23, 2016 (Oct. 11, 2017)
  • National Partnership for Women and Families. "Overdue: Medicaid and Private Insurance Coverage of Doula Care to Strengthen Maternal and Infant Health." Jan. 2016 (Oct. 12, 2017)
  • Papagni, Karla and Ellen Buckner. "Doula Support and Attitudes of Intrapartum Nurses: A Qualitative Study from the Patient's Perspective." Journal of Perinatal Education. Winter 2006 (Oct. 10, 2017)
  • Port, Dina Roth. "How Much Do Doulas Cost?" Parents. 2014 (Oct. 10, 2017)
  • Rochman, Bonnie. "Men at Work for Women in Labor." New York Times. Dec. 2, 2013 (Oct. 10, 2017)