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Frequently asked questions

The word doula (“doo-luh”) originates from a Greek word meaning “a woman who serves.” In 1969, anthropologist Dana Raphael, Ph.D. published an article in the scholarly journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine in which she used the word doula to refer to women supporting other women through the journey of childbirth and early motherhood. She later went on to describe a doula as a woman who “mothers the mother.”

Nearly 50 years later, we would rephrase Dr. Raphael’s idea of a doula as a person who “nurtures the family.” The specific definition of what doulas do continues to be debated within the community of birth professionals (you’ll probably get a different definition of a doula from each doula you ask!), but underlying all of those different ideas is a deep desire to support families through birth and early parenthood with compassion and understanding.

As doulas, we love to support not only mothers but their partners, families, children, and communities by providing a caring, encouraging, and knowledgeable presence during the childbearing years.

Unfortunately, the short answer is probably not.

I encourage you to call and ask if they will cover birth doula fees. (While you’re on the phone with your insurance company, it would also be a good idea to find out if they will cover childbirth education fees, postpartum doula in-home support, and/or lactation support fees.)

If it turns out your insurance company DOES reimburse for doula support, you’ll want to ask about the percentage or specifics of that coverage. 

UPDATE – Medi-cal has announced they will cover the birth and postpartum services.

Doulas work WITH dads and partners, we don’t replace them. Many women and their partners find that simply having that reassuring presence in the room allows them to relax a bit more and work together to bring their baby into the world.

As doulas, we are committed to supporting dads and partners as they participate in the birth process to the extent that they are comfortable doing so. We love to see birthing women’s loved ones providing hands-on support if they choose, and we’re full of tips and tricks to help dads and partners (and even older children) provide comfort and encouragement!

Many people who work with doulas are glad they received the additional support. Providers also recognize the important work that doulas do. Having a doula attend to your emotional needs in the delivery room enables your care team to focus entirely on helping you deliver a healthy baby. As well as having a doula in your home after the baby is born helps with emotional and physical recovery.

No, a doula can not provide medical care to you or the newborn. They can not diagnose or treat. They can only provide emotional and physical support.