Saturday, April 9, 2011

Doula in NYC

First of all, what is a doula?

""The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily."

"If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it" Dr.John Kennell 1998

Now, how much does a doula cost, and specially in New York City where by default almost everything else is much more expensive than other places?

That is a million dollar question it and itself. I knew it would cost me at least around $700 range. I just didn't know exactly how much.
Once I started to send email to all these recommended doulas I was both shocked and surprised to see that the average price was much higher than my range. And in my price range  they have only the ones who are not that experienced in this field or just started out. Initially, I wanted someone with significant experience. To me, having someone who knows all the drills was VERY important, otherwise I felt there was no reason to have one.  Then I read about the highly recommended doulas, and I sent few of them emails. It turned out most of them were either booked or would be on vacation around the time my baby is due. And then there were 3 or 4 of them, who were highly regarded in this field and apparently they were "worth every penny". And how much penny we are talking about here?? I was SHOCKED. These particular highly sought after doulas apparently charge anywhere from 2000-2300 USD. Now, granted they are the crème de la crème of doulas. But STILL. One of them sent me a list of things she usually does for a client. I read it, it was nice, but most of the things that was included her service I really didn't care for.

And then for a bit I was down and was almost sure I would end up without a doula. But I kept researching. Thankfully, I found out about a great doula co-op, and I contacted one of the doulas. They have doulas with all different levels of experiences. So, they've it breakdown in Tier based. Tier 1 has the least experienced, Tier 2 has little bit more experienced and so on. And of course as the Tier goes up, so does the price. Then I decided to interview someone who was recommended to me "highly" from Tier 2. I met her, she was extremely nice, however, she would be out of town 2 weeks prior to the due date. And not to mention her price range was more than what I was willing to pay. So, it boiled down to the fact that if I hire "her" and pay that price, I might end up getting a back up in case I go into labor while she is away. That's a deal breaker for sure. Then she told me about Tier 1 doulas. And before she came to meet me, I actually was thinking about contacting one of the Tier 1 doulas myself. But it's a good thing she told me about them. Basically, these Tier 1 doulas have at least attended 10 births, and some of them will have more births under their belts by the time my due date rolls around. And few of them have other extra credentials, which meant they technically fall in Tier 2 (she, herself falls into Tier 3, but paperwork wise Tier 2), so if I do hire one of the Tier 1, I'm actually getting much more than that. And the best thing is their service is $250.00!!!!!!! YEAP. Can you imagine my relief? It's  HUGE!

And then I ended up contacting my doula, who also happens to live ONLY 7 blocks away from my home!!!! It's like a miracle! And not only that she is a Bradley Method Childbirth class instructor, has a cert in Neonatal resuscitation (I honestly don't what this is- but whatever it is, I gather it's very important!) and very recently, got her certificate as a Lactation Consultant!!! So, needless to say I'm so VERY happy and pleased to have her as my doula.

Another thing is a lot of them are willing to work out a different pay arrangement (as in lowering their prices) if the client explains them how they are under financial strain and they work on a case to case basis. My doula actually has offered me to take her Bradley class that she instructs for a significant low price than what she charges others. I think, that was very nice of her and I definitely appreciate it. I'm also going to take the ones offered by my hospital, where I would be giving birth and that's FREE.

So, the point of this post is, even in New York City you CAN have a doula within YOUR budget. And these days, various hospitals are actually offering low cost or free doulas to low-income women, teenage pregnant girls and so on cause they are worth it.

And here is my doula. Though she doesn't know that I've a blog now and I'm sharing her info, I'm sure she wouldn't mind that I am sharing her link:

My Doula

Here is a link of official Doulas of North America organization DONA where you can find all the information from what is a doula to how to get one to anything and everything related to this.

To finish it off, a nice art that I found from google: A woman in labor surrounded by other female helpers (doulas? may be ;) )

Woman in labor with her doulas

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