Certified Childbirth Educator/Birth Doula
Name: Ami Burns, 30
Owner of Birth Talk, a private practice in Malden specializing in childbirth education classes and labor support services.
What do you do?
As a doula I provide physical, emotional, and informational support to women during labor, birth, and the immediate postpartum period. I provide constant one-to-one support for them through the experience, including helping them with breathing techniques, suggesting positions to help labor progress, and helping the mother form and make decisions. I also provide the support to a woman's partner, who tends to feel a lot of pressure to be a super-coach.
How does a woman benefit from a doula?
Research shows that the presence of a doula tends to reduce the duration of the labor, the need for medicine and intervention, the amount of Cesarean sections. Mothers also tend to feel more positive because they've had that extra support.
What are your hours like?
I am on call 24/7. You have to be able to work well when you're sleep-deprived. You never know if a labor is going to be four hours or 40 hours.
What are mothers sometimes concerned about?
I think a lot of people assume that we are going to try and talk them out of medicine and intervention or convince them to do a natural birth. A good doula does not try to push her own agenda, but to support a mother's wishes and choices.
What training have you had?
I am certified through Doulas of North America. The program is a combination of self-study, reading, writing evaluations, workshops, and getting a required number of births. You don't necessarily need the certification if you have a lot of experience, but the clients I work with seem to be interested in it. I am also certified through the Boston Association for Childbirth Education.
How much does this service cost?
I would say the median range for a doula in the Boston area is $700 per birth. That usually includes all of the prenatal visits, 24 hours a day on-call service for the months around the due date, continuous support throughout the entire labor, birth, and immediate postpartum period, and also a postpartum follow-up visit.
What is a typical salary?
Annual salary depends solely on the number of births a doula chooses to attend. I only take on one to two clients a month because I have small children at home. I know other doulas who take on an average of five clients a month.