Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of questions based on what I wanted to know when I hired a doula. I hope they go some way to answering any queries you may have. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss anything that isn't listed here.

I think I would like a doula, but not quite sure. Can we talk or meet up before I decide?

Absolutely. Our first meeting is free, and with no obligation or we can talk at length by phone. It's a chance for you to ask any questions you have on the role of a doula, and decide if I am the right doula for you. It's so important that you trust your doula, and I recommend trying to meet or speak to at least two doulas before you decide who may be the right match for you. Your doula also needs to be someone you feel will get on well with your partner. So I can either meet with you together at this initial meeting, or at our next meeting if you decide I am the doula for you.

My husband/partner is worried that a doula would take a part of the experience away from him. Is that likely?

Not at all, in fact a doula supports both you and your partner and allows your partner to be there as the father, rather than take on a variety of roles that a single birth partner would have to. Most fathers, however hesitant before the birth are often quite vocal on how much the presence of the doula helped them enjoy the experience. A woman in labour needs as much support and nurturing as possible, and having both your partner and a doula forms a complementary team, with each bringing unique skills to the labour and birth.

If your husband or partner would like to know more about my role as your birth doula or would like to hear about homebirth - from a dad's persective, please feel free to email barnaby.girling@shootgroup.co.uk - who is happy to share his own experience and thoughts with any dads-to-be.

How many times will we meet? And where do we meet?

Our initial chemistry meeting can be at your home, my home or anywhere convenient for you, or we could meet for a coffee local to you. If you then decide that I am the right doula for you, we will have a minimum of three more meetings, usually more, that are roughly 2 to 3 hours each, again meeting anywhere you feel comfortable with, where we will talk through all your options, how you are feeling and your hopes for the birth of your baby. At least one of these meetings will need to include your birth partner. I am then available to you for e-mail or phone support from the time you hire me, until 4 weeks after the birth of your baby.

Do we meet up after the birth of our baby?

Yes. I will visit you a few days after the birth of your baby so we can talk through how you feel things went on the day (and to have a cuddle with baby!), and give you a chance to ask any questions on caring for your new baby. I will also help you with any breastfeeding or bottle feeding advice. I will then visit you again approximately 10 to 14 days to ensure you and your partner are happy and settled with the latest member of your family!

You are a member of Doula UK. What does that mean?

Doula UK is the non-profit association of Doulas in the UK and assures you that I have completed one of the doula courses recognised by Doula UK. This means that the course follows the core curriculum designed by Doula UK’s experienced doulas. The Doula UK recognised courses are all taught by experienced doulas and are regularly inspected and monitored. It also means that I abide by a code of conduct which you can read here. And that I was assessed by an experienced Doula Mentor before I gained my 'Recognised Birth Doula' status. For more information please visit Doula UK.

Do you issue a contract?

Yes. As a member of Doula UK, we are advised to offer you a contract and I can show you a sample of what it looks like at our first meeting.

Are you insured?

Yes. I am fully insured for malpractice and public liability.

How long will you stay with us?

I will stay with you from early labour in your home, and will then remain with you for the duration of your labour, however long or short whether at hospital, a birthing centre or home. And for a few hours after your baby arrives to ensure you are all settled before I leave.

Do you bring anything with you? 

I usually bring a few items that I feel benefit the course of labour, and we can discuss this at any of our meetings. I also carry a Helios Homeopathy Childbirth Kit with me, which you can use if you wish to.

I'd like to have a homebirth, but If we are transferred to hospital, will you come with us?

Of course. I can either travel in my car and meet you at hospital, or I can travel with you in the ambulance if you prefer, while your husband follows us to ensure you have a mode of transport with you. If I do travel with you in the ambulance, I may need to expense the cost of getting back to my car, but will only do so with prior agreement and consent from you. (Just for your info: it is standard practise to transport a lady in established labour to hospital in an ambulance, and this does not automatically mean or indicate an emergency. Most hospital transfers are due to slow progress or a request for pain relief options that are only available in a hospital setting).

When do you join us in labour?

As soon as you feel you may be in labour, we will talk and decide if you would like me to join you immediately, or in a few hours. We will remain in touch and talk through your options, and talk through if you may be in pre-labour. Pre-labour is when your body gets ready for labour and can take place days or weeks before true labour begins.

When should I start looking for a doula?

I think between your 5th and 7th month of pregnancy is a good time to look for prospective doulas. Any later than this and it may be that most doulas will be booked up already. And ideally you'd want some time to get to know each other. If you are certain you would like a doula, it is always better to book as early as possible to ensure you get the doula of your choice. Doulas can be booked up to 6 months in advance.

Who makes the decisions if we are in hospital?

Regardless of where you have your baby, and regardless of whether you hire a doula or not, you will always be the decision maker. It is not the role of the doula to offer medical advice. If in a hospital setting, I can help explain the effects of any proposed procedures or methods of pain relief, to inform and allow you to make the right decision for you and your baby.

My husband/partner will be there as well. Won't it be too many people for a hospital birth?

No. Most hospitals understand how helpful a doula or second labour support person is to a woman in labour, and usually support your decision to have one. If you have any doubts, we can always check with your hospital of choice to be absolutely sure.

On the day, what will you do and what will the midwife do?

The doula's role is to provide you and your partner with ongoing emotional, physical and informational support. A midwife performs actual medical care and delivery of your baby. A doula is there to support the mother and meet her needs and provide constant, reassuring 'mothering of the mother'. A doula will remain by your side however long your labour may be, while midwives may need to change shift whether at a hospital or home birth, but will generally try to remain with you for as long as they can if it's a home birth. Most independent midwives don't work to shifts and hence will stay with you until baby is born. Research has shown that having a doula support you during your pregnancy and birth can decrease your chance of a caesarean by 50% and reduce your length of labour by 25%. You are also 60% less likely to ask for an epidural and have a 30% reduction in the use of forceps. Read the statistics here.

I'd love to hire a doula but not sure if I can afford to. Do you offer payment options?

As a guide , recognised doula fees can range from £500 to £1000, dependent on where you may live in the UK. Most doulas require a deposit to secure your due date in their calendar and ensure they can be available for your birth. I usually require 50% as a deposit to secure your due date, and the remainder at one of our postnatal meetings. But I am happy to discuss a payment plan with you. Alternatively, you may want to ask your friends, family and colleagues to buy you Doula UK gift vouchers as a possible gift for you. 


Doula UK runs a hardship fund to cover expenses incurred by doulas who work for clients in their local community, who do not have the means to employ a doula.  This might be because the family’s only income is from State benefits. If you feel you may qualify for the hardship fund, please contact me for more information.

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If you have any questions on how I can support you as your birth doula...

Please call me on 07825 130765 or contact me using this quick contact form.