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Frequently Asked Questions

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What is a birth doula

A doula ....

Recognizes birth as a key life experience that the mother will always remember...

Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor...

Assists the woman and her partner in preparing for and carrying out their plans for the birth...

Stays by the side of the laboring woman throughout the entire experience...

Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures, an objective viewpoint and assistance to the woman in getting the information she needs to make educated decisions...

Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and clinical care providers...

Perceives her role as one who nurtures and protects the woman's memory of her birth experience.

From: www.childbirth.org

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What does a postpartum doula do?

A Postpartum Doula brings a little bit of sanity into your life. She helps the mother by taking the stress off of her so that she can concentrate on the new baby, and integrating the new member into an existing family. She can help with light housework, grocery shopping, cooking and remember to water the plants and feed the cat. She is there to support you emotionally during a very vulnerable time. She can hold the baby while you take a shower or nap, and make sure that the siblings are adjusting well.  She is trained to assist with breastfeeding, and can help you determine when to get assistance from a Lactation Consultant.

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What training is involved in becoming a doula?

Doula training is a weekend intensive that covers topics like but not limited to:

Birth support

Including: Anatomy and physiology of pregnancy, fetal development, labor, postpartum, and breastfeeding.
With additional study in the areas of:
~Emotions of pregnancy
~Pain management techniques
~Medical procedures used in labor
~Emotional support and physical comfort measures
~Support for difficult labors, Cesarean birth, and vaginal birth after Cesarean
~Newborn care and breastfeeding


The Role of the Doula in Supporting Breastfeeding

~Bottle Feeding: Safety and Techniques
~Nurturing Families with More than One Infant
~New Mother Care
~New Baby Care
~Postpartum Mood Disorders and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
~Comfort and Care for New Babies
~Community Resources

There are many opportunities for learning that we have taking advantage of over the years.  Certification is a process of evaluations and review.  Because DONA International is the most recognized organization for certification we have decided as a group to continue our education through them.

This is a group of doulas who took the DONA postpartum doula training in March 2005.  Susan M. was a wonderful teacher.  Our group had five of our members attend.  We had a wonderful time getting to know other doulas in our community and made many new friendships.
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Do I need a doula?

A doula offers physical, emotional, and informational support to the birthing family. She is a constant presence, and can help relieve some of the strain on the parents. From helping get the laboring women comfortable through contractions to getting a drink for the partner, a doula is a welcome extra set of hands in the labor room. Women that are having their first baby, women who have had a difficult past birth, and women who are experiencing complications with a current pregnancy all need the support and comfort that having a doula can provide. Everyone who wants a doula, needs a doula!
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When should I start looking for a doula?
Birth Support: As soon as you can.  When you start looking early you are able to have more time with your primary doula and meet your back-up.  Your doula will be able to suggest books to read and resources in your community.  

If you are late in your pregnancy, that is okay too.  We have always said it is never to late to ask for support.  

Postpartum Support: It is nice to have everything all set up before the baby arrives.  You can arrange to have one of our doulas come for just a few hours per week or schedule 24/7 care.  If you find that you need more or less support we can accommodate your needs.
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Where can I find a doula?

Our group has trained and certified birth and postpartum doulas in Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington.  The bios on the doulas in our group can be found on either the Birth Team page or the Postpartum Team page.

If you are looking for a doula outside this area there are many search sites on the internet. Start with DONA International.  DONA International is the most recognized certification organization in the world.  You can also talk to your childbirth education teacher.  They most likely have a few doulas they have worked with and can recommend.
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What should I know when hiring a doula?

The most important thing when hiring a doula is her personality.  Do you feel safe with her?  Has she been working as a doula for very long?  Does she help you feel empowered to make your own choices or does she have her own agenda?  

In birth you want to know that you will be supported.  A doula gives knowledge with out giving advice.

In postpartum a doula is there to support your role in parenting.  A new baby has just come into your life, what kind of mother do you want to be?  A postpartum doula it there to support you in learning about your baby and helps keep the house running.
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What if I plan to get an epidural, or decide to get one in labor?

A doula is non-judgmental and honors that a woman knows how to give birth, and will make the best decisions for her and her baby. If unexpected challenges come up, the doula is there to help and support the family and their wishes.  

The doulas in our group have supported women in many types of births.  Each women has their own story to tell and has been strengthened by becoming a mother.
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Why doesn't my insurance pay for doula services?

While there are some insurance providers that will cover the cost of a doula, most do not.  This is something that clients and care providers can work on together by submitting bills.  If you would like more information please ask contact Erica Matteson at erica@renchildbirth.com
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Who is primary and who is back-up?

Working with our team of birth doulas gives you the option of double doula services or back up services.  We have found that working with two doulas gives clients reassurance of knowing who will support them when the time comes.  While some mothers choose this option many do not.  Having one doula that you feel a strong connection to and knowing that she has back up if needed is a more traditional way of doula support.  

~Double doula: two doulas will attend all the prenatals and attend the birth if they are both available
~Back up: one doula will attend prenatal visits, back up will be called for birth if primary doula is unable to support client.
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How long will I need a postpartum doula?

This varies depending on the family. Some situations that might influence the amount needed are: cesarean, difficult birth, young siblings, breastfeeding problems, premature baby, postpartum depression, large families, and challenges in the family such as illness. A good way to plan is this: think of the maximum support that you might need. You will probably need that amount for at least the first 2 weeks. After that, you can keep it at that level or start to wean down, depending on your needs. It is not uncommon for a family to retain a doula for several months. As doulas, we try to be as flexible as possible, and will work with you to come up with a plan that works for your family.
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How are payments made through Renaissance Doulas?

When a client chooses to work with our team a deposit is collected through our online payment option.  For the birth team the deposit is $70.00.  For the postpartum team the deposit equals 20% of your postpartum plan.    

All other payments will be collected by the doula(s) that you are working with.  

Schedules include weekdays, overnight, and weekends.

Our group is well networked within the doula community.  If you are in need and can not afford a doula, contact our office and we will do our best to connect you with a low cost option.

Disclaimer: This site is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for personal medical advice, attention, diagnosis or treatment. If you are concerned about your health or your baby's health, please consult your family's health care provider immediately.

Disclaimer: The doulas who work through Renaissance Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals, LLC are independent contractors.  Renaissance Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals, LLC does not assume any liability through the actions of your independent contractor.  

Doulas are non-medical professionals who support women and families in Labor and Postpartum.   They are trained in the normal course of pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care.  They are not qualified to give medical advice, please use the information on this website as a general guide.

Always check with your Care Provider to be sure that you are doing what will be best for you and your baby.

PHOTO CREDIT: All professional photos provided by Erika Eve Plummer and Debbie Baxter.  Thank you for making our site beautiful!

        Portland, OR / Vancouver, WA