Doula- Q & A Session
It's important to decide while navigating pregnancy what kind of experience and care you want. You will be building a team of support for the pregnancy, labor, and postpartum journey...so who are you going to have on your team? Some examples could include: OBGYN, Midwife, doula, lactation specialist, etc. It can extend to other areas too like a meal train coordinator, house sitter, dog sitter, care giver for other children, and the list goes on.
Today we wanted to focus on the role of the doula. Through our alma mater, Gonzaga University, I got connected to Kate Pangos! Kate is a birth doula, lactation counselor, and nurse. I sat down with Kate to get the inside scoop on what a doula is, what they do, and how they can offer support during pregnancy and labor.
Christine: What is a doula?
Kate: A doula is someone who is there to support the birthing person and their partner throughout pregnancy, birth and in the early weeks of their new parenting journey! Some doulas choose to specialize in one area, so there are doulas that offer specific support either prenatally, during birth and/or postpartum, while some choose to offer support in all of these areas!
Christine: How are they a part of the pregnancy and birth journey?
Kate: A birth doula can assist with practical knowledge, comfort measures, and suggestions for positioning during labor and birth. They can also help facilitate effective communication between the birthing person, their partner and the medical team such as the nurse, midwife & doctor. They do not make decisions or speak for the couple but rather empower them to be able to make these decisions together and advocate for themselves! They often meet with the couple a few times prior to delivery to help establish a trusting and comfortable relationship with the couple and help answer any questions that they have about birth so both partners feel confident when labor begins!
Christine: Would a doula replace another caregiver in the pregnancy and birth journey?
Kate: Doulas do not replace any other caregiver during the pregnancy and birth journey. They are not hired in place of a midwife or nurse and do not take the place of the birthing person’s partner.
Their goal is to help facilitate great communication between all of the people involved and create a warm and comfortable environment as the couple bring their new baby into the world!
Christine: How did you decide to get into this line of work?
Kate: I was first introduced to the work of a birth doula at my clinical rotation on the labor and delivery floor during nursing school at New York University. I had never heard of a doula before that & was amazed at the continuous support they would provide to the couples. A couple of years later, I was giving birth to my daughter in Barcelona and ended up having a “failure to progress” that turned into a c-section. I did not have a doula during that birth and realized how difficult it is, when you are in labor, to be able to truly advocate for yourself. My husband was so supportive through the entire process, but relied on me a lot, and I didn’t feel like I had anyone to discuss decisions with who might prompt me to see things differently. After that birth, I realized how many other women probably experience this same thing and I knew I wanted to be able to support couples during this very exciting but also stressful event in their lives. I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to support families during these incredibly special moments!
Christine: What are the things expecting mamas should think about when selecting a doula?
When deciding on a doula to work with, the most important thing is that the expecting mom and their partner feel super comfortable with whoever they are choosing. This is such a vulnerable experience and you want to make sure that you have a close, open and honest relationship with your doula. The doula should be able to fully respect your values and decisions as well.
Christine: What are common confusions women/couples have about doulas?
Kate: Doulas are often mistaken as midwives and/or labor and delivery nurses. It is important to know that doulas do not deliver babies nor do they give medications. They are there to support the couple and help them advocate for themselves as they bring their baby into the world. There is also a misconception that if you are just planning on getting an epidural that you do not need a doula. Doulas are very helpful and increase positive birth outcomes regardless of whether or not you are planning to get an epidural or even if you are having a planned c-section!
Christine: What’s the role of a doula in the hospital vs a home birth? Or is it the same?
Kate: The role of the doula doesn’t change based on the setting, whether it be hospital, home or at a birth center!
Christine: Cost of a doula - covered by insurance?
Kate: The cost of a doula varies a lot and is dependent on many factors. The average range is anywhere from $500 (usually a new doula) all the up to $3,000 or more. Their costs can also vary based on what they offer, for example, prenatal education, 24/7 access, lactation support, nutritional support, virtual support etc. Doulas are not typically covered by insurance, however, because of recent research coming out showing improved birth outcomes when using a doula for support, some insurance companies are beginning to cover doula support. This is definitely something to bring up with your insurance company!
Christine: Anything else you want to share?
Kate: My goal as a doula is really to help the couple feel confident throughout this entire journey. I want them to feel empowered to be able to make decisions together as a couple because these are ultimately the first decisions they are making as parents to their new baby! Birth is always unpredictable, so regardless of how it turns out, I want them to feel like they had all of the information and were able to make the “right” decisions for their family at that time. I feel so honored to play a small role in their journey!
Bio: Kate Pangos is a birth doula currently working with clients virtually all over the world. She offers prenatal education, virtual birth support, personalized pilates-based workouts and postpartum & lactation support. Kate is a proud mom of two. She has a BA in Biology from Gonzaga University (2015), as well as a BS in Nursing from New York University (2017). In addition she played Division 1 soccer at Gonzaga University and has completed a pilates certification and prenatal/postpartum certification to aid her clients in working out both during pregnancy and with recovery postpartum.
This blog post is part of our Q&A series, for more Q&A blog posts, click here.