Answer: almost never.*
*If you're in the hospital and pushing, it might be too late. Otherwise, read on...
One of the great things about using a doula is that you can decide, even very late in your pregnancy or even (sometimes) when you're in labor to hire one. Many people think that if they haven't hired a doula by a certain time, it's too late. The reality is that many doulas can be hired last minute to support you in labor. In fact, some doulas and doula agencies have an "on call" program where they are available for last minute support requests. Hiring a doula last-minute will likely mean that you do not have time for 2-3 prenatal visits, as is standard in most other doula arrangements, but that will not affect the quality of support and care you receive in labor.
Today begins World Doula Week, and as an organization that promotes and loves childbirth educators, we believe in and love doulas just as much. Achieving continuous support in labor and birth is easily and skillfully fulfilled by hiring a doula. A doula's primary role is to provide continuous emotional, physical, and informational support during labor, birth, and early postpartum. A doula does not replace the role of your partner or loved ones attending your birth, but rather provides a helpful complement to your birth support team. If you haven't considered a doula for your pregnancy, I encourage you to learn more by taking a god childbirth class, which will explain and illustrate how a doula helps in labor and birth, and read up on information about doulas. We've written several articles in the past about doulas -- check it out:
International Doula Month: Finding the Moola to Hire a Doula!
What Is a Postpartum Doula?
Doula Support for Cesarean Birth
Understanding a Birth Doula's Fees
Tips for Finding a Doula
Our Favorite Doula Information Resources
Can Your Doula Double as a Bodyguard?
A Mother's Love Letter to Her Doula
Top 5 Doula Myths - Cleared Up
Hire the Best Doula for You: 6 Questions to Ask
5 Things Your Doula Won't Tell You
Taking a Childbirth Class vs. Hiring a Doula - Know the Difference!
TagsBirth Doula Doula's Role World Doula Week