Doing some pre-ttc research...
can you ladies tell me how much your doula cost? Was it at all covered by insurance? What exactly do they do for you? Are they really needed? Do they stay around after the birth? Please recommend your philly area doula. I'm interested in Bryn Mawr birth center to have my babies.
It's unlikely your insurance will cover the cost of a doula. There is a wide range depending on how experienced your doula is.
We loved our doula, she's a former OB nurse and had worked at the hospital we delivered at (we met her at our childbirth class) so she knew most of the doctors. She was absolutely fantastic and my vbac would not have been successful w/o her.
I have had clients that get reimbursed through their flex spending accounts if they have one at work. They have been reimbursed either all of it or a portion of it.
also, there are actually codes that can be put in through health insurance companies that will make it more likely that they might pay for it. But some of that is the hope that if people put the codes in and ask for reimbursement that they will start doing it in the future more regularly. I don't have the codes right now, but someone else might.
Insurance doesn't pay. Mine was the ultimate support person- helped both DH and I through a very long labor. And yes, I believe they are needed- I wouldn't birth without Jodi again!!
Here is what I got out of my doulas.
1. A long prenatal meeting (some do 2) where we spent a long time with DH discussing our hopes and plans for the birth and agreeing on how we would work together.
2. Tons of phone support - when I had an issue come up I could talk it over with someone well-informed who suggested questions to ask and resources to help me make the right decisions in dealing with the care providers (scare-mongering OBs in birth #1 - they say the baby might be transverse! they say the baby might be too small! etc.)
3. Company at home during early labor; I always wait as long as I can to go to the birth center or hospital - I labor in my own space and go about my life. But I still liked having someone there with me for support (see below) and if something unusual came up, to be an "expert" on what was happening.
4. Assistance with decisions during labor - what to do when water leaked before cx started? (nothing, just wait) how to react when cx did start but very lightly and late at night? (have a glass of wine, go to sleep!) when to call the midwives? (in the morning when cx are more serious) when to leave for the hospital? etc.
5. Physical support - massage, suggesting different positions, helping with physical relaxation - for the tough parts of labor
6. Emotional support - my doula sister used amazing "non-coaching" while I pushed - no counting, no cheerleading, no yelling - just whispering about how fantastically awesome and strong and amazing I was. I'll never forget how much it helped me keep pushing.
7. Husband support. Could your DH do all the above? Well, maybe some. But he hasn't been at 10-50 other births so he's no expert. Also, he's probably pretty freaked out. And, if he is busy massaging your back, he can't simultaneously time your contractions. Will he also remember to remind you to pee and keep drinking water and maybe try walking around now? And if he does, he'll probably forget to eat or drink anything himself. So the doula will take care of him too - and be an extra pair of hands.
Why do doulas cost "so much"? Well you are paying for at least one prenatal and one postnatal visit - sometimes more - up to 4 hours plus. And you get their availability for phone/email advice. And you are "reserving" their time. Many doulas take only 2-3 clients a month to ensure they will be present for your birth. They don't go on vacation if your due date is near, and they cancel all plans if you go into labor. Being "on call" this way for weeks is the big downside of the doula life. And, births can be overnight, on weekends, 18 hours long, etc. If you do the math, paying $500-900 for all that is reasonable and with only 2-3 clients a month the take-home pay isn't much.
Some have had luck getting some insurance compensation for doulas and its worth asking - but don't count on it. Still, I advise doing it anyway.
They have a retail boutique with great baby gifts and also tons of nursing bras and baby wraps/carrieres. They have an LC on staff and the owner of BirthMark organizes a doula (birth and postpartum) co-op and she can help match you up with a doula. they also have a ton of classes, support groups and workshops....
Check out www.dona.org for information on the benefits of a doula and questions to ask a doula during the interview before you hire her.
I used Lori Daley http://www.delcodoula.com/ and went through the birth center, although wound up at the hospital bc my DD was 15 days "over." She was amazing and we're hoping to have her at our next birth at home around August. I swear I would have had a c section if it wasn't for her. For me the birth center was OK, but it kind of depends on the midwife you get for delivery if you wind up at the hospital. (Not that I am trying to talk you out of your decision!) Her fee was $700 then I think (delivered Nov 2011) but I think it might be $1000 now. My insurance did not cover it, but covered everything with the birth center, so we could afford the fee. qw