What is a doula?

What is a doula?

A doula is an experienced and trained professional, who can help you gathering information about your pregnancy, birth and the postpartum time. She provides you and your partner all the emotional, physical and mental support and assistance through this journey. that you need. The doula offers help and advice on comfort measures such as breathing, relaxation, movement and positioning. In nearly every culture throughout history, women have been surrounded and cared for by other women during childbirth.

Since the eighties, doulas are more and more part of the modern birth team. The doula is there in addition to, not instead of, the partner. Doulas work independently at a home- or hospital births and are employed directly by the expectant parents. Their aim is to help communicate between the pregnant female and her partner and potentially also help out when a caretaker has trouble getting their message across. The doula is not medically responsible for any outcome and is there to hold space and help bridge gaps, if necessary.

A doula will work at both home- and hospital birth settings. She is mostly hired by the expecting parents and will almost always work as an independent caretaker (ZZP). We love the more recent description of the Greek word for doula: 'she who guides' as opposed to the ancient translation as 'female servant'.

You are pregnant!

Now that you are pregnant, it is time to start thinking about birth locations. Hospital or at home? With or without pain meds. On bed or in a birthpool or......wherever you like. You have many options in the Netherlands! During 2nd trimester it's also a good idea to look up child birth education classes or find out more about additional postpartum care. Where on earth do you find “kraamzorg” (our famous Dutch in home postpartum care)... and what about a doula, why a doula, what does she offer differently than the midwife and much more.

What does a doula do?

Most doulas offer different service packages. A basic package should usually be composed of:

  • Get together meeting (free of charge) to see if you are a match
  • 2 face to face prenatal meetings (usually in the comfort of your own home)
  • Offering help with writing your birth plan/ birth wishes
  • Unlimited email/ whatsapp and phone contact
  • Ongoing support during labour to both you (and your eventual partner)
  • Postpartum meeting going over the timeline and pictures of your birth
  • Een bevalverslag (vaak met foto’s)

Add on or 'doula plus' packages offer discounts on child birth education classes, pregnancy massage, discount on rental or free use of birth TENS or birthpool, mindfulness- or hypnobirth classes, pregnancy yoga....and much more

Many doula's offer classes. You can select 'find a birthclass' in the drop down menu and look up any doula's or other parties who are offering child birth or postpartum classes. Good to start preparing yourself for birth during 2nd trimester and for postpartum period during your 3rd trimester! And if you are looking for a doula on a lastminute basis: there are many doula's who are available on a short minute's notice.

General doula fees

In general throughout the Netherlands doula's ask around EU950 and about EU1750,- incl BTW for a basic package. Some doula's work excl BTW and offer slightly lower prices. A birth doula will not only come to your home for the prenatal meetings, attend your birth, host a postpartum meeting but also be on call for about 1 month surrounding your due date. Some insurance companies offer a refund of part of the invoiced doula costs. Many doula's offer payment plans or have gift certificates available so your whole family can pitch in to get you the best support you feel you need!

Hiring a doula is a great investment in yourself. Extensive studies in both past and present times have found that continuous labour support by a trained doula improve obstetric outcomes and reduce interventions.

  • Shorter labours (25%)
  • Less caesarean sections (50%)
  • Less need for analgesia or anesthesia (60%)
  • Less need for induction or contraction enhancing medication (50%)
  • Less vacuum extractions or use of forceps
  • Better APGAR scores of the newlyborn
  • Higher satisfaction rate about the birth experience
  • Faster postpartum recovery

Source: 'the doula effect' by dr. Marshall and Phyllis Klaus and John Kennell. More research and data are ti be found at the website of the NBvD, the Dutch association for doula's: www.nbvd.nl

Child birth is a life event. Just as getting married or moving house, you are going to be impacted tremendously. And so are your surroundings. If you give birth together with a partner you will both feel positively supported by a doula and benefit from her knowledge and loving presence. Good to know is that most doula's work with back up doula's should she cannot attend your birth for whatever reason! After all, she is only human too.....

NBvD logo nieuw

NBvD is the Dutch association for doula's (Nederlandse Beroepsverenging voor Doula's)

The NBvD is a pro active and well informed Doula Association who looks after the interest of the Dutch doula community. Their goal is to anchor the quality of their members both during prenatal, postnatal and birth services .

Every doula who is a member of the NBvD vows to comply to few rules & regulations and can be held accountable when crossing a line by both clients or caretakers.

Furthermore the NBvD wants her members to upkeep their knowledge and follow preferably accredited doula trainings. The NBvD has acknowledged a few doula trainings to be 'in line' with how they want doula trainings to be.

Most NBvD doula members need to attend a certain amount of births per year to upkeep their membership, next to needing to show proof of ongoing education.

You do not have to be a member of the NBvD to offer doula services in the Netherlands. But you can select 'NbvD doula' in the scroll down menu if you like to know who is affiliated with the NBvD.

More information (in Dutch) about the NBvD, their code of conduct, costs of membership and much more is to be found at: www.nbvd.nl