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.

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